Phoenix: Martin - Thursday media visit

MARK MARTIN, DRIVER OF THE NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, met with media members at Phoenix International Raceway and talked about additional track testing, drug testing, racing at Talladega, his favorite Phoenix memory and more. ON WHAT CHANGES HE...

MARK MARTIN, DRIVER OF THE NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, met with media members at Phoenix International Raceway and talked about additional track testing, drug testing, racing at Talladega, his favorite Phoenix memory and more.

ON WHAT CHANGES HE WOULD RECOMMEND TO THE NEW CAR: "Without a question raise the splitter up. But I wouldn't mess around with an inch. They should have started at seven inches on that splitter, not four. The rest of the car is okay, there's nothing really wrong with the rest of it and we are so far along now with this four-inch splitter, I don't know. I don't know if I would even do anything. Maybe you could take it up an inch and give it some front suspension. That's the only real problem with this car, it doesn't have enough front suspension."

ON IF FRONT DOWN FORCE IS THE MAIN ISSUE WITH THE NEW CAR: "Its front grip and you can get a lot of mechanical grip by giving it some suspension. The down force is still a question; I still don't completely understand what all this aero push is. In 1990, 1989 we didn't have any down force and there was no such thing as aero push. And now when we take down force away, now we have aero push with down force, we take down force away and it seems worse. I'm a little bit baffled about that. We could use more mechanical grip in the front end and that would be easy to get. A four inch splitter was really way radical of a call for NASCAR to make and we could've had seven inches like the truck and gotten used to the car and then maybe each year cut it down an inch, to six then to five or something like that. Really the rest of the car, it's backwards, but it isn't that bad. It's heavy, it's higher, it's this and that but you can pretty much get used to all those things but giving up 50 percent of your front suspension is hard to get used to."

ON IF ADDITONAL TESTING WOULD BE A SIGNIFICANT BENEFIT:  "No, we
don't need to test.  It's just burning everybody up, catching
them on fire.  I don't think that's it."

ON HIS REACTION TO REPORTS THAT AARON FIKE HAD ADMITTED TO BEING ON HEROIN DURING RACES: "I'm astounded. Just, wow. I saw that and I guess that just shows you can be naïve, I was naïve. I didn't think that was ever really a problem or ever would be an issue. I was surprised by that."

WHY DIDN'T YOU THINK THAT WOULD BE AN ISSUE? "Cause I'm a race car driver and I would have no desire of racing a car or driving a race car with any sort of impairment at all. Matter of fact, I need something to enhance myself. I'm not good enough as it is, so I can use some help instead of something to put me backwards."

ON HOW HE WOULD REACT TO KNOWING HE WAS RACING WITH SOMEONE WHO WAS IMPAIRED FROM DRUGS, ALCOHOL OR SOMETHING ELSE: "I'm not gonna over react to that. Let me be honest with you, I've raced with a lot of guys that weren't impaired that drove like they were. That's not all of it. I don't know, I've raced a long, long time and I've had a lot of guys on the race track scare me that I'm pretty sure weren't under any kind of influence."

ON IF HE THINKS THERE IS A NEED FOR INCREASED DRUG TESTING: "That's a tough call, that's a tough question. Maybe, because I was naïve. I would have said no, the system works fine. I think that's a very isolated incident, but it goes to show you it could happen. Whether you put somebody out there on the race track who doesn't have the experience level and doesn't have the maturity to do it or you put someone out there that has all of that and is under the influence you know it's all not good and you need to prevent both sides of it. You need to screen these people closely, especially the newcomers, the young drivers and all and you also need to be screening them for drugs. That is a big deal. We have a very, very strong sense here in NASCAR of the competitors, what they're like and what they do and how they live their lives on most occasions. I think that one kind of caught us off guard."

ON RACING AT TALLADEGA WITH THE NEW PAVEMENT: "The last few races they've had there have not been like the last few at Daytona. Prior to that, Talladega was more inclined to give you that kind of finish and Daytona was less inclined to. I don't have an answer for that, for sure. Don't really love new pavement anywhere for what it does to the tire situation and the grip situation and all. I really just think it's a matter of coincidence that we haven't had the kind of wild showdowns at the end of Talladega. I was involved in NASCAR in 1981 and 1982 when there would be two, three cars on the lead lap at the finish. I remember four cars on the lead lap at Talladega and nobody complained it was boring and then maybe three or four races later there might have been 15 on the lead lap at the end of the race. So, it's random. You can't predict racing. Sometimes they go down to this much at the finish line and sometimes they go down to nowhere in sight. If you'll just wait, if you see a race that you don't think was exciting enough, if you'll just wait long enough you'll have one there. Be patient."

WHO IS THE GREATEST DRIVER IN ANY SERIES? WHO DO YOU CONSIDER THE GREATEST DRIVER EVER? "Oh, wow. I won't give you one name but a few names come to mind. Top of my head - Larry Phillips, Dale Earnhardt, Al Unser, Jr., Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, A.J. Almindinger (laughter), don't laugh.

HOW ABOUT MARK MARTIN? "No, I'm not in that league. I might make the good category but not the great. I'm serious, there's a lot of really great race -- Juan Montoya, a lot of names that people are surprised about. Al Unser, Jr. was one of the best I ever raced against. Anytime, anywhere, anything - Tony Stewart. A.J. Foyt was a little bit before my time when I was a little kid and a fan, but for what I understood he could drive anything, anywhere, anytime, that's Tony Stewart in my eyes. There's a lot of great race car drivers, I'm not talking about great results, I'm talking about great race car drivers. What gets the results are fickle, what team you're with all kinds of things like that so I don't really go off the trophies. I go off the abilities and what they can do behind the wheel of any given race car."

ON TIRES LAST WEEK AT TEXAS AND PREVIOUSLY AT ATLANTA: "I think the grip level that we had at Texas was marginal, it was right marginal. It was acceptable, but it was right there. If you go over that line, it's not acceptable like Atlanta, totally unacceptable. It's not all race car. Part of it is the tire that we marry to the race car and I think over time the team's getting better with the cars and Goodyear's getting better with what we need for a tire that will be durable enough but also give us a grip level, I think it will get better. One note I would like to make here, point I would like to make, I didn't see one tire failure all weekend at Texas. And by the way, the tires were acceptable. The grip level was acceptable for that car. With that all said, I would say that's a pretty good weekend.

"Unacceptable at Atlanta, acceptable at Texas. We didn't have a tire failure at Texas. I'm not so sure you can say that about Atlanta. I felt like there were tire failures at Atlanta and the grip was unacceptable. There were two pluses at Texas, you were inside the margin of acceptable grip and what I would call zero failures."

ON IF HE THINKS GOODYEAR'S LEARNING CURVE WITH THE NEW CAR HAS BEEN A LITTLE SLOW: "They're trying to make themselves happy, NASCAR happy and the teams happy. That's a pretty tall order and this car has presented a challenge to try to meet all that criteria. I think they did a good job in Texas with that."

HOW ARE THE TIRES FOR THIS WEEKEND?  "I think they'll be
fine.  We had a test here.  I think they will be great."
ON IF HE THINKS TIRES ARE A FACTOR IN THE SLOWER SPEEDS:  "I
don't know.  Everybody is going as fast as they can go."

ON HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT NASCAR HAVING A TRAVELING SAFETY TEAM: "I think that's a hot potato. I don't think NASCAR likes to hear that. That's been discussed ever since I've been a part of this thing."

DO YOU THINK THE CARE IS CONSISTENT FROM TRACK TO TRACK, CONSISTENT ENOUGH? "When it comes to somebody's life, is it ever good enough?"

HOW CAN THEY GET BETTER? "Well they spend more money."

SIMPLE AS JUST LAYING THE GREEN BACKS DOWN?  "It costs more money
to make it better.  It's a pretty simple formula.  I mean that
formula is fairly simple.  Costs more money to have better . . ."

WHO SHOULD SPEND THE MONEY? "I don't know."

NOT THE TRACKS, NOT NASCAR? "I don't know."

DO YOU THINK NASCAR DOESN'T WANT TO DEAL WITH IT ON THEIR OWN? "I don't know. They didn't used to. They didn't use to want to talk about it, so I don't know where they are today. I don't talk to them a lot about a lot of things because they don't really, what I mean doesn't really matter and if they had done what I thought they should have done then the whole thing would be all messed up so I keep my mouth shut because I usually don't know what's best."

ON HIS BEST MEMORY OF RACING AT PHOENIX: "We won here in '93, that's pretty awesome. I don't know if that was the year that I raced with Ernie (Irvan) so hard, but winning here and racing with my buddy Ernie."

ON HOW THE TRACK HAS CHANGED THROUGHOUT THE YEARS: "It's just been a little different. It's a lot the same. Different stages of pavement from new to old, in between. It's like that, its old pavement and they repaved it somewhere along the way and now the pavement is old again. It's just gone through those age cycles."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Al Unser