Mark Martin, No. 01 U.S. Army Impala SS, met with members of the media and discussed moving to DEI's No. 8 car (shared with Aric Almirola), Regan Smith's role, fans accepting him in the No. 8, whether or not he had second thoughts about taking the...
Mark Martin, No. 01 U.S. Army Impala SS, met with members of the media and discussed moving to DEI's No. 8 car (shared with Aric Almirola), Regan Smith's role, fans accepting him in the No. 8, whether or not he had second thoughts about taking the number, how difficult it would be for Dale Junior to make the Chase, on how the season has gone for the No. 01 team, plans for next year, on who his crew chief will be, on how it feels to be locked into the Chase, on how he can help Martin Truex, Jr., on how Kurt Busch has been helped by his crew chief, on not running a full schedule, on drivers coming to NASCAR from other series, on being a spokesman for the Army and keeping in shape for racing.
Select quotes from driver interview:
YOU'LL BE IN THE NO. 8 WITH THE ARMY SPONSORING IT - HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? "I am (excited) Driving for the U.S. Army is a real special opportunity and I think it's one of the most meaningful sponsors in the garage so it's an honor to drive the soldiers' car and I'm happy about it. As well as driving the No. 8 and representing Dale Earnhardt, Inc. I spent a lot of years on the race track racing with Dale Sr. and a lot of battles and I know that following that legacy is big shoes to fill. But I think he'd be really pleased with where this company is headed. I know I'm excited about it; I know that we have a good bit of work to do in front of us to get. we're still in the very beginning stages of merging the No. 01 with the other three DEI cars. I think he'd be very pleased with where we're headed."
IT LOOKS LIKE THE FANS WILL PROBABLY ACCEPT YOU DRIVING THE NO. 8. YOUR THOUGHTS: "I know that there will be a backlash from a certain number of his fans but you have to understand that that number has a lot of meaning to Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and I raced against Dale Sr. in the No. 8 Busch car owned by DEI in 1984. So it's very important to this company and it's part of keeping Dale Earnhardt's legacy alive and I'm sorry for the ones that don't like it but for the ones that do, I appreciate them. I appreciate all the fan support, I talked to Richard Childress and it was very important to me to have the blessing from RCR as well as the rest of the Earnhardt family because it was a very touchy subject. But it's important to the company and I'm proud to be a part of it."
ANY SECOND THOUGHTS? "I didn't have second thoughts; I had to consider it all the first time around. I talked to Mike Helton about it; talked to Richard Childress about it. Really Richard was the one that really made me feel good about it. He had some really awesome things to say about it and unfortunately, in this business, the numbers pretty much stay with the owners. That's all they have. Whereas Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gets to take his name and superstardom anywhere he wants to go. I drove the No. 6 car for 19 years and I understand how this thing works and the owners need. they build equity in the numbers and it's really an industry standard for the number to stay with the car owners."
IS CREW CHIEF RYAN PEMBERTON STILL GOING TO BE WITH YOU? "It's going to be the No. 01. Ryan's car. That was a stipulation that went down before the merger. I really wanted to drive Ryan's car. I believe Ryan Pemberton is the best in this garage and I think this team is one of the best in the garage. For what they had done for me in February for the Daytona 500 and every race since then, the way it feels to go to the race track and climb in their car and to see the excitement and enthusiasm on their faces is something really special to me."
-credit: gm racing