Richmond II: Martin on making the chase

MARK MARTIN - No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion (Finished 5th) "This team, thank goodness, they put it all together tonight. They were awesome on pit road. They made one adjustment with two runs to go and we were actually really steamy and could run with...

MARK MARTIN - No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion (Finished 5th)

"This team, thank goodness, they put it all together tonight. They were awesome on pit road. They made one adjustment with two runs to go and we were actually really steamy and could run with them. Heck, we just got up on the wheel and got it done there. It means a lot to me. I was sure since May that we were gonna fall out of the chase when it got so close, but this is a good one for us tonight. We had to run good and in the middle of the race we weren't running good enough to get it done."

HOW MUCH PRESSURE IS OFF AND HOW MUCH MOMENTUM DO YOU HAVE?

"I'm not worried about the championship. We might get lucky or something, but just to be in the chase with all these great, young drivers is a big deal to me. I was really dreading missing the chase because I was gonna feel like I lost and from here on out these last 10 races I'm gonna have fun. I promise."

WHAT'S THE OVERRIDING EMOTION YOU HAVE RIGHT NOW?

"Relief, and I'm very, very grateful."

WHAT DOES IT SAY EN THE DEFENDING CHAMPION DOESN'T MAKE THE CHASE?

"I knew that somebody that deserved to be in it wasn't gonna make it and that's unbelievable. Last year's champion, two-time champion, Tony Stewart - the greatest race car driver of this era, in my opinion - missed the chase."

YOUR THOUGHTS.

"I'm relieved. I just want to thank all the fans out there for all the 19 years, but especially for this year and the overwhelming support. I can't describe what it means to me. It was a great night for our AAA Fusion team. Pat Tryson and all the guys on pit road, they redeemed themselves for sure and I got up on the wheel. Halfway through the race I really thought we were done for and we made one last little adjustment that I never dreamed would have made any difference with two runs to go and it just set the car on fire. I hate it so bad for such a great champion and probably the greatest driver of this era, Tony Stewart, didn't make the chase, but somebody wasn't gonna make it that deserved to be in it and we're glad to be in."

WAS THERE A POINT YOU EVER FELT COMFORTABLE THAT YOU WERE GOING TO BE OK?

"Yeah, it got to be looking really good with about 30 to go, but a caution changes everything. These cautions are just horrible nightmares with double file restarts and people gouging and it can all go up in smoke on one of these crazy restarts. My car had not been good on long runs earlier in the night and that last run it kept getting better and better and better. I was like, 'Man, this is perfect. If it'll go green all the way it's gonna be like falling off a log.' We were fixing to get Junior in another lap or two. Our car was really good at the end of the race. I just want to thank Jack and our team and our sponsors - Pennzoil and Kraft and all the folks that have supported us. I promise I'm gonna have fun the last 10 races."

WHAT HAVE THE LAST FEW WEEKS BEEN LIKE FOR YOU?

"It's been awful. I've been everything but sick and maybe even sick for about six weeks now. I've wanted it that bad. We've had some tough times and there's been a lot of pressure and we stepped up to the plate tonight and got it done. We might really put on a charge and make this thing exciting and we might not, but we're in it and I'm proud of that. Sixteen of the lat 19 years in that 6 car we've been in the top 10 and I'm proud of that record."

-credit: ford racing

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart