Martin, Johnson, Bowyer Talladega II post-qualifying press conference

Team Chevy Racing press release

Mark Martin, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Mark Martin, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, POLE WINNER FOR THE GOOD SAM CLUB 500:

TALK ABOUT YOUR POLE RUN OUT THERE TODAY: “Well, first before we do that, I want to say something to try to see if you guys would help me reach out to all of our fans out there. GoDaddy has set up a website, danwheldonmemorial.com, and fans can go there and if they have the inclination to make a donation or what have you and there is a lot more interesting information to come about the possibility of auction items, really cool stuff coming shortly in the future as well, that is something that I wanted to get behind us. I really want to make sure I give the credit, 100 % of the credit to first the organization of Hendrick Motor Sports, for their incredible work that they do on restrictor plate racing cars. Also, Lance McGrew, and the GoDaddy.com team took the same parts and pieces that their three teammates had and managed to put down a little bit quicker lap, so it is a competition and someone asked me yesterday about the pole and I said yes, Sir we are going for it. It is a competition too and we try to win every single competition there is, no matter what it is. Oh course the race is a bigger more important competition but this is still for pride and I am very proud of my race team because of the great work that they have done, pulled off the pole at Daytona as well in July, and I tore the car up. It was not like they had the same piece in tack to do it again with. I am very proud of them and they do great work.”

DRIVERS SEEM TO HAVE FIGURED OUT HOW TO STAY IN THE TWO CAR TANDEM DRAFT THROUGH THE PRACTICE SESSIONS, WHAT IS YOUR TAKE ON THAT AND THE RULE CHANGES: “The race teams are smart, there are a lot of smart people, when we figure out that something is better, it is hard to stop us from doing it. It is better for speed, personally I think it is better racing than it was before but I maybe in a minority. I like it, and I have a great partner, tremendous partner, best partner in Talladega, and he has a rocket ship and I have a rocket ship, so we need to win this race. We had a shot at it last time here took the lead on the white flag lap and I thought we were gone. So maybe we can be the surprise, maybe we don’t take it till the last twenty feet this time instead of the other way around, we will see.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE THIS TEAM IS FINDING A GROOVE, EVEN THOUGH IT IS LATE IN THE YEAR? “We have definitely, Yes, we have made great progress starting all the way back in Indy, we had a fast race car at Indy, and we have had a couple of exceptions where we missed it but for the most part we have really, been gaining on it and I am really proud of that because everybody on the team is putting their whole heart into this and they know that there is a lot of changes coming at the end of the year and they are putting their whole heart into each and every race. It is really cool to see us gain momentum here late in the season, wish we could have started that back in the spring but it feels really good. Really proud of these guys and this race team.”

HOW LATE IN THE RACE CAN YOU WAIT TO DECIDE HOW YOU CAN WIN IT, LAST LAP, FIVE TO GO? “They tell me a lot later than I think. Believe it or not my partner seems to think that I get, my partner and some other people around me seem to think that I get a little bit excited and they think that, that is a great combination cause sometimes Jeff (Gordon) maybe doesn’t get excited enough so we seem to be making a good team. I’m working with, in my opinion the smartest people in the sport, so I give them the lead, when I think I know something better I stand up and say it, but for most of the time I am all ears, I have the privilege to work with some of the smartest people the sport has ever seen, especially when you combine Jeff Gordon and Alan Gustafson, in with Lance McGrew and Chris Heroy, that work with my team as well. They say you can wait a long, long time, but it is hard for me to wait that long. I keep saying one of these times you are going to wait too long and they say hadn’t yet! I was like ok, I agree, but one of these days you are not going to be able to wait that long.”

CAN YOU UPDATE US ON YOUR PLANS FOR 2012, COULD THIS BE YOUR LAST TALLADEGA CUP RACE? “(Laughs) don’t start that last, last, it could be last, don’t even go there and please don’t even go there. I don’t know about that, and we do not need to touch on the Talladega part, I don’t have anything, although I did answer a question last week which got a lot of talk going, and I should have probably not answered the question, it was a fan at a hospitality, that asked would I be driving next year and I said yes, and I have a lot of confidence and the only full schedule that I have been considering is the truck schedule, but nationwide racing, cup racing would be more of a limited schedule, like I did in 2007 and 2008, that is where my heart is at, and with the things that are starting to move, there is starting to be a little bit of movement going on, I am confident that I will be racing and that was the answer and that caused a little bit of things to get ruffled up, I don’t have anything and it has been extremely quiet throughout the year and it is very late in the season, but there is still going to be something happening and sponsorship things that are going to happen, they are just going to happen later in the year and we have seen in the past and what I do is sponsorship driven and I think you guys know that. It is sponsorship driven, where I land and what I do. No news yet, but I was asked quite a while back, and people kind of smirked when I said it and probably thought I was being a smart aleck, and they said when do you want to have, when do you expect to have or whatever, and I said November or December, and I am still, not going to miss that by much. I am still hoping it is November or December and not January.

CAN YOU LET US IN ON WHAT THE THOUGHT PROCESS WAS WHEN YOU PAIRED ON THE PLATE TRACKS? WHY GO WITH ONE NOT THE OTHER, THE PARTNERSHIPS, DID THAT JUST HAPPEN ON THE TRACKS OR WAS THAT PRE-DETERMINED? “I think that Alan Gustafson, who was my crew chief in 2009 and 2010, probably spearheaded the project to put Jeff (Gordon) and I together because I did, the 500 with A.J. Allmendinger, and I just picked him because I like A.J., I trust A.J., I felt like A.J. would, I could trust him to be loyal, more than I could someone, so many of the other guys out there and it worked well. After everyone saw how that worked in Daytona, Alan wanted to put Jeff and I together because Alan had worked with me for the past two years and I am all for it man. That is Jeff Gordon ya know! You have a chance to work with one of the greatest NASCAR drivers of all time; you are going to jump at it.

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JIMMIE JOHNSON NO. 48 MYLOWES CHEVROLET QUALIFIED 2ND:

JIMMIE TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN TODAY: “Just a very fast race car and you look at where all four Hendrick cars are and we have a lot to be proud of and our qualifying efforts this year on the plate tracks have just been amazing. I wish we were two hendreths of a second faster, because Mark ( Martin) got us by a couple of thousandths there but we will take it and just go race hard on Sunday and see where we end up.”

TALK ABOUT PRACTICE YESTERDAY AND DID YOU FEEL ANY DIFFERENCE IN THE TWO-CAR DRAFT COMPARED TO JULY OR APRIL? “Not really from a car/driving stand point. The bigger plate I did not notice any major changes there. The track is so wide and forgiving; sensation of speed is relatively low here unlike Daytona. I did find that it took more effort to control the temperature of the car. We have a lower threshold before we pop off that valve and you have to be very aware of your gages and how long you are pushing and how much of your grill is exposed to the raw air. I think that will only intensify tomorrow, as the temperatures go up. If you are in the pack, there is less consistent air and the air is kind of thinner then and I think guys will have more trouble with heating issues there and just need to switch more often. I think we will see more switches at the end of the day.”

HOW LATE IN THE RACE CAN YOU WAIT TO PUT YOURSELF IN A POSITION WHERE A WIN IS REALISTIC? “It seems to be earlier and earlier anymore. I think at some point the track is going to fill up with everybody deciding that it is time to go trying to beat the rush is the tricky thing to do anymore. Also, there is an element to this where the guys that are racing all day long, they are just a little sharper with their skills and maintaining the radiator temperature and just all the stuff. There is a point there, it is nice to get up there a little bit earlier than normal and race and get in the feel of what is going on and how to really set up your pass for the win potentially. I think it is getting earlier, I think it is earlier at Daytona than it is here but JR (Dale Earnhardt, Jr) and I are up there in the mix a lot watching the video last night again of the spring race, yea we feel back a couple of times to a comfortable spot but we still would work our way up there and I think that is going to be the smart thing to do.”

WHEN YOU WON HERE IN APRIL, CHAD KNAUS ( CREW CHIEF) SAID YOU OWE DALE EARNHARDT JR. ONE, DOES THAT STILL COME IN TO PLAY HERE, IT IS SO WEIRD HERE, ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO HAVE TO DECIDE WHO IS GOING TO BE THE FRONT CAR? “Yea, I do remember Chad saying it and believe me the JR Nation has not forgotten that statement that Chad made and we have made as a group a huge effort at Daytona to get it to work but with his car up front, we did not have the luck that we needed to and we noticed that in the April race here, that for whatever reason the things we do in the car, I mean the cars are equal, but whatever we do we were better off with the No. 48 leading and the No. 88 pushing. We worked yesterday on both combinations and we will just have to see how things unfold in the race, and where we feel that we are the fastest. If we cannot win the race we certainly want him to and will try to. The hard thing is to try to anticipate where is the ideal situation, if it is a big pack coming to the finish, the guy being pushed has the best shot at it, if it is a break away like we have seen in years past, the guy pushing is in the cat bird seat and can win. Of course both of us want to win, and we will do all that we can but as Jr. said before and I have used this a few times, they take a picture of the finish, you just want to make sure you are in the picture. If you are in the picture, you have a shot at it, so to keep it simple that is what we keep talking about is just being in the picture at the finish.”

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CLINT BOWYER, NO 33 CHEVROLET 100TH YEARS CHEVROLET QUALIFIED 3RD:

TALK A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN: “It was good; actually that was an old No. 27 car. Happy with the progress that Shane (Wilson, Crew Chief) and the guys on the 33 team made on it. To be in the mix there and be the best RCR Car, I was excited about our lap. Not a lot of emphasis put on today, it is all about tomorrow, but if you have the sheer speed in the race car, it sure helps tomorrow.”

IN THE APRIL RACE DID YOU…. “No, I lost” YEA, BUT WHEN DID YOU KNOW THAT, DID YOU HAVE A SHOT YOU THOUGHT UP UNTIL THE LAST SECOND: “You know, it was so close, I thought I had him. Then right there at the end it was so close, it was like oh man, I think we just lost. We lost that momentum, that least little bit and you can feel that, as soon as our cars broke apart, it is such a crucial period right there where you have to maintain that contact but you can’t drag your brakes in order to keep that contact either ya know about the time you do that you are going to slow down too much and you are going to lose momentum. We have been fortunate enough to be in the hunt at the end of the last few of these tracks and it is just so much fun to be able to be like Jimmie (Johnson) said to be in that picture, it is a hell of a lot more fun being in the picture if you win, like he did but hopefully we can beat that closest finish in history and actually win this time.”

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Tags bowyer, chevrolet, johnson, martin