Phoenix: Pole winner interview

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS, POLE WINNER: TELL US ABOUT YOUR LAP "Well, it was good. I was really pleased with the race car. I intended on running quicker on the second lap. I certainly did in practice and I thought I was...

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS, POLE WINNER:

TELL US ABOUT YOUR LAP

"Well, it was good. I was really pleased with the race car. I intended on running quicker on the second lap. I certainly did in practice and I thought I was on track to be faster on the second lap and I got down in the middle of (Turn) 3 and 4 and I don't know exactly what I did because stuff is happening pretty fast out there, but whatever I did, I wasn't able to get back to the gas as soon as I wanted to. I had to wait on it. I didn't get the car aimed back down the race track enough to get the gas early enough and so it was about the same speed as the first lap. So I was disappointed in myself. I felt like an early draw was really going to hurt. I thought that it was going to cool off a lot. I was wrong about that. I don't think the track really picked up much. So I think a bunch of guys had potential to beat us and they messed their laps up. My first lap was fairly spot-on. It wasn't one like Atlanta or even Bristol. I think those were pull a rabbit out of a hat kind of thing. This was a good, solid race car and I drove a solid lap."

HOW DID THE CAR HANDLE TODAY AND HOW DO YOU LIKE COMING TO PIR?

"I love coming here. I have liked this place a lot. I believe it was '93 when we sat on the pole and won the race out here and had a lot of fun. I've had a lot of great races here. I've had great battles with Ernie Irvan here and this is a great place. The fans are so supportive of these races. It's a good place to race. So, I'm glad to be here."

TOMORROW, DO YOU HAVE SOMETHING FOR YOUR TEAMMATE, JIMMIE JOHNSON?

"Well, I don't know. When we beat Jimmie Johnson to win a race, I'm going to feel like I beat Superman. I will say this. We are very proud of the performance we've had on the race track all year. These guys gave me a top 10 car in every single race I've been in. We may have had some trouble, but we've had fast race cars. But I told (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) after Texas, that I'm very proud of our performance. But if we're going to win, we're going to have to step it up one more notch. And I have not been happy with my race car in Happy Hour this year, until today. So I wasn't expecting to sit on the pole, but I have hopes that we're going to be a little bit better in race trim than we were the last handful of races. I have underestimated, I think, coming into this thing, that last little bit of speed that is going to come from Alan and I working together for a long time. They just shot me right out there in about a sixth place car, which is about where I ran in all the races. I was running fourth in Vegas when we blew up. We were running fourth in Atlanta. But we've hovered around sixth place a lot in all the other races. It's a thrill to be able to drive stuff like that. But if we want to win, we've got to get that last little bit. I have to drive those cars and run the races and then talk to Alan about it and then go to more races and drive those cars and sample his tools and find that last little bit. And those guys have got the jump on me on that. I'm just doing good to be keeping them in sight."

ON PIT ROAD AFTER YOU QUALIFIED, YOU SAID THAT THE GUYS GOING OUT LATER WOULD PROBABLY MURDER YOU, BUT YOU ENDED UP ON THE POLE. WOULD YOU LIKE TO MAKE ANOTHER PRONOUNCEMENT ABOUT THE RACE TOMORROW NIGHT?

"I'm an idiot (laughter. It's obvious, isn't it? (laughs). I called that wrong. And I could call my race car wrong. But I was very happy with my car in race trim today. I don't know how much better, performance-wise, that will get us. But at Bristol, Atlanta, Texas, and all these places, Alan and the guys have jacked that car up on Sunday morning and put stuff under it that wasn't under it on Saturday, based on all our talks and our debriefing. That's not going to happen tomorrow. I want exactly what I had on the one run. Maybe it's just a start in the right direction. It may be not every last ounce of it, but we need just a little bit more. Until I get the chance to experience all those little nuances in Hendrick box of tools, I can't tell them this, this, this, and this. They could put 100 things out in front of me and I only get to pick five, to go in my car and I'm like, oh. I don't know. And so we did try a lot of things in Texas that we won't have to try again. You know, in Happy Hour. And then Sunday morning they put some other stuff in and it was like better, better, better, better. So we're learning together. I just can't believe I raced all my life and then right at the end of my career I get a chance to do this. This is the coolest thing to work with these people and get a chance to experience it before I have to become a fan and spectator."

WHAT'S CHANGED THE MOST SINCE YOU LAST WON HERE 15 YEARS AGO?

"I know it's obscene that I remember what springs and sway bar that we ran, but I do when we one this race in 1993, but I do. It's changed. The cars have changed. The competition has changed. A lot of things have changed. The shock absorbers have come a really, really long way. The way we spring these things and set them up and the way we lay everything. Everything has changed. The way you do your job has probably changed. The world doesn't set still. I think the competition is pretty incredible now. That's the thing. When I look at my race car, for example last year, I look at the No. 8 car and if they were having a bad day and it was Aric driving the car and he was 36th fastest in practice, and it was like oh my gosh, that's terrible. Oh, let me see. That's terrible. Robby Gordon is 37th. Well, I can't out drive him on a good day. How could I expect Aric to? You know what I'm saying? And you look around and there is nobody out there on that race track that can't do the job.

"Now, all the drivers are awesome. All the drivers are awesome. And my guys was tore up today before qualifying because I was afraid I would not meet expectations for qualifying. I was really nervous."

SO EMOTIONALLY, YOU HAVEN'T CHANGED THAT MUCH?

"I don't know. I couldn't call that one. Let my wife, you should ask Arlene. I don't know how to answer that. I've seen a lot of things and done a lot of things. There's as much or more pressure now as there was then, for sure. I feel as much or more pressure because every time I strap down in that race car, I feel like I am being judged. Or I am judging myself. Maybe I am not being judged, it's me. I am judging myself. Every time I strap in that car. You can believe when I get in that thing, there won't be a lap at 80%. You get everything I got, every time I strap in it. You get that from everybody out there today. The competition level is probably the biggest thing."

YOU HAVE A TENDACY TO GIVE THE TEAM A LOT OF PRAISE WHEN YOU DO WELL ON THE RACE TRACK, DO YOU GET ANY PERSONAL SATISFACTION OUT OF OUT PERFORMING KIDS WHO PROBABLY WATCHED YOU RACE LONG BEFORE THEY EVER GOT IN THE SPORT?

"I don't know, that is a good question. The way you worded it doesn't spark. But, what you mean there kinda does. The way you worded it didn't make me immediately say "Oh yea". But, when you have guys like Aric (Almirola) or A.J. Allmendinger, Juan Pablo Montoya, who I think he is like awesome-he tells me at the driver's meeting last week 'I just want to keep up with you'. It is like, this is one of the best race car drivers in the world, has done things I will never dream of doing. That is pretty cool. So yea, in that respect, it does feel pretty cool for people to give you props, you know. But, at the same time, nobody feels sicker when they don't perform than I do. Just like I said earlier, I'm judge myself every time I strap in that race car. Lucky for me, I am driving really great stuff. The reason I praise that team is because I have raced for 25th, I came right here with a brand new race car a few years ago and ran 29th. I didn't have a flat time, didn't hit the fence, didn't have a bad pit stop. Nothing went wrong. Ok, so I know what it means to drive good stuff. I think it is important for my race team to get the credit that they deserve. Because I can't drive the junk to the front. I just can't do it. I think that is part of building a team. I think that is why the teams I have worked with they would do anything for me and it is because I will give them credit.

"I will also give them a spanking if they don't perform. I am not short on letting them know that this isn't good enough. But, if they are giving everything that they've got and doing a great job, I want them patted on the head."

YOU GO ALMOST EIGHT YEARS WITHOUT A POLE, THEN YOU HAVE THREE IN FIVE RACES, ARE YOU KIND OF SHAKING YOUR HEAD ON THIS THING?

"Yea, especially today. I know the others were surprises but Christmas comes once a year. This is really cool, it is really cool. It really makes, it just goes to show me I am an idiot. I am a complete and total idiot because I really was very...I looked at this thing real hard before I decided I would do it. I did want to drive the No. 5 car, but, I wanted to drive it on my terms. I was just about dumb enough to have passed on this opportunity. This is just awesome. It is just great.

"We have a little bit of work to do, but we have a lot of time to get there. Maybe we can get up there and contend for some wins. A win before the years up. I feel like we are making progress together."

ARE YOU ANYWHERE CLOSER TO GETTING THE OPTION TO STAY IN THE CAR FOR A FULL YEAR NEXT YEAR?

"Absolutely have not thought about it. Exactly the same answer as Bristol. I should have watched my tongue. It is zero. Have not thought about it. I had a blast last weekend with our Fan Appreciation Days, had a good time with them. I have quality of life with my family this year. Everything is in a great place and I don't feel any pressure and it is April. I could have felt one way this morning and felt completely different right now. It is April, that is why I am not even thinking about it because it is just so early. We don't have to address that.

"I heard there is commotion out there, but it is nothing."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya