MARK MARTIN, DRIVER OF THE NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, met with media members at Richmond International Raceway and talked about his favorite All-Star moment, changes at Darlington, burnouts and much more. ON THE RICHMOND RACE NOT BEING SOLD OUT.
MARK MARTIN, DRIVER OF THE NO. 8 U.S. ARMY IMPALA SS, met with media members at Richmond International Raceway and talked about his favorite All-Star moment, changes at Darlington, burnouts and much more.
ON THE RICHMOND RACE NOT BEING SOLD OUT. "That's the first I've heard of that. It's a real tough time economically, but that's the first I've heard of it so I haven't thought about it very much. Definitely I know that it's tough economic times, we feel it at our dealerships. I see it when I roll up to any kind of fuel pump, gas or jet fuel or whatever you name it, it's putting a hurt on a lot of people."
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE ALL-STAR RACE A COUPLE OF WEEKS AWAY, DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE FORMAT IS THIS YEAR? "No. (laughs), not really. Excitement I'm sure. I think I saw something about that but I don't pay much attention to what it is. We'll figure out what the format is when that's at hand."
ON HIS FAVORITE ALL-STAR MOMENT. "I think both times we won were really great. The way we won the first one was such a huge surprise. We were coming off of turn four running second, coming for the white flag and Jeff Gordon pulled over to the inside and he was out of gas. It was a big surprise. Then winning in 2005 was pretty awesome. Things went pretty awesome that night for me. Every move I made just happened to be right. It felt really good because every move I made just really worked out to be like it was planned that way. It's not always planned that way. Sometimes the moves you make are right or wrong based on what other people do. You can't control those so it worked pretty slick that night, 2005."
YOU LIVE IN FLORIDA, HOW DO YOU SPEND YOUR TWO WEEKS IN CHARLOTTE? DO YOU STAY IN CHARLOTTE? "I'll go back. It's only an hour and a half to my house. For me it's just like someone else jumping in their car and driving up to Greensboro."
ARE YOU ENCOURAGED BY ALL THEIR SPENDING AT DARLINGTON NOW? A FEW YEARS BACK EVERYONE WAS TALKING ABOUT CLOSING THE TRACK. "I'm encouraged. I don't know, not a lot of things surprise me. You know that's real encouraging. I'd like to see them get their race back."
ON HIS THOUGHTS WHEN HE HEARD A FEW YEARS BACK ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF LOSING A RACE AT DARLINGTON. "It was real sad. I'm a Johnny come lately, to be real honest with you. I don't even know what it meant to race there in '59 or whatever the first year was. I know I have a lot deeper roots than a lot of people in the garage, but I still don't have the kind of depth that that place had. To me it was sad and definitely I'm sure it was even more sad to the people who have even deeper roots than I do in NASCAR. That didn't seem like a race track that needed to lose a date. I think there are some, but I don't think Darlington is one of them."
ON DRIVERS ATTENDING DRIVING SCHOOLS TO HELP GET INTO THE SPORT. "There are a lot more opportunities to do that today then there were 30 years ago, but there were driving schools 30 years ago that a lot of us went to. Whether it was road racing, Bondurant, or the driving school that I went to when I was getting ready to start late model racing. There are a lot more to choose from today, but the whole world is quite a bit different than it was 30 years ago." DO YOU THINK IT CAN BE BENEFICIAL TO SOME PEOPLE? "The easiest way to become a NASCAR driver is to be better than everybody else. That you don't have to learn. That you have, I think you're born with that. That's the easiest way, just to have more ability and more talent than everyone else. For the rest of us, you got to work hard at it."
WHAT ABOUT MARKETABILITY? HOW MUCH HAS THAT RATIO SHIFTED BETWEEN DRIVING TALENT AND BEING ABLE TO SELL THAT PARTICULAR PERSON? "I really don't think it shifted, I just think it's more important. It's selective. You still have to be incredible as a driver. Then when you line up five incredible drivers side-by-side, you know the first one's that are chosen, are chosen based on their marketability, but it still hasn't diminished the need for the incredible talent."
HOW EASY IS IT TO GET FRUSTRATED AT ONE OF YOUR TEAMMATES AT TALLADEGA? HAVE YOU CUSSED A TEAMMATE BEFORE? "Yes, and they've cussed me. It's easy to actually have that anywhere, at Talladega it's even easier. Your expectations from your teammates are sometimes unrealistic and yet sometimes you fall short of what you might do for a teammate based on the things that are going on around you. Not that you plan it out and say I'm gonna do something bad to my teammate. It's just there's a lot going on out there. If you're as dull as I am, sometimes you don't get the chance to think everything through. It happens pretty quickly. You have to make decisions and sometimes in retrospect you might of could've done something differently but you have to make those kind of decisions. It's been going on for a long time. I've had teammates since about 1990 when Jack (Roush) started the second team and you do your best to get along but sometimes you're expectations are pretty high of your teammates and sometimes they just can't meet those expectations."
WHAT'S THE MADDEST A TEAMMATE HAS EVER BEEN AT YOU? "Matt (Kenseth) probably made it clear that he was mad at me. I may have had other instances that were worse than that, but it wasn't as clear to me as Matt was with me at Chicago or Kansas quite a while back."
DID IT COME AS A SURPRISE THAT HE WAS THAT MAD OR A TEAMMATE COULD GET THAT UPSET WITH YOU? "Well obviously you never think you did something that was that bad. I didn't think what I did was that bad, but that's how everyone is. We're all just a bunch of grown-up little kids, and you know how little kids, they think they never did anything wrong. We're just a bunch of grown-up little kids."
ON WHAT HE EXPECTS DARLINGTON TO BE LIKE NEXT WEEK. "I think it will be a great race, but it won't be quite the same old Darlington. It will have shades of the old Darlington. But with new pavement, we had new pavement I don't remember what year it was, mid 90's, 95, so it's different. It's better with the worn out pavement in a lot of ways. It's easier to pass I think and a lot of fun but it was ready for a new dress and it got it."
BEING ON THE TRACK IN A STREET CAR, I THOUGHT IT WAS RIDCULOUS GOING DOWN INTO WHAT IS NOW TURN THREE. YOU GUYS ADD ANTOHER 50 MILES PER HOUR IN SPEED, THAT'S GOT TO BE INSANE. "It is, but you add the grip to go with the speed, that's where the speed comes from. It's all relative. It's no more insane to go 15 miles an hour faster than it was to go 15 miles an hour slower on that pavement that wore the tires out as you were rolling across pit road. They were wore out before you got out of the garage, that was pretty insane too."
DID THE TRACK NARROW UP? YOU MAY HAVE MORE GRIP BUT DOESN'T IT GET EVEN MORE NARROW WHEN YOU HAVE HIGH SPEEDS? "It may get a little bit more narrow with higher speeds, but it's pretty narrow at lower speeds when you don't have any control of your car. It's Darlington, new pavement, old pavement. Fast, when the speeds are slow it's still fast. It's really fast. It'll be interesting. I didn't do the tire test, so I don't know. I knew what it was like in '95. Like I say, I think every driver pretty much likes old pavement verses new pavement."
DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF AT DARLINGTON MAKING A MOVE AND IT WORKS AND YOU GET BY AND THINK I DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH ROOM TO DO THAT, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? DID YOU EVER SURPRISE YOURSELF SQUEEZING THROUGH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE THERE? "Yeah, and then I usually key up the mic and tell my spotter to tell what's his name, thank you. That's why I made it, because he let me make it."
WHEN DID BURNOUT'S BECOME POPULAR? "They came apparent to me through (Alex) Zanardi. Zanardi is where I saw it start, that doesn't mean that's where it started. Zanardi did them big time. If he was winning every week and he was doing them like crazy and that's where it seemed to have started from."
WHEN DID IT COME HERE INTO CUP? "Fairly soon after that. Pretty soon after that. I think they're real juvenile. It would embarrass me to do one because I would think that was either being a copycat or it was something to be expected. From these kids if they didn't do it, it would probably embarrass them so that's what you do today but I don't think I saw Jeff Burton do a burnout at Bristol. Thank goodness."
DOES IT TEAR UP THE EQUIPMENT? "It's disrespectful to the equipment but it makes good T.V. That's what they show on television every time. If I did a burnout, I would wreck. So I'm not gonna do it."
DID YOU EVER PICTURE ANY CIRCUMSTANCE AT ALL THAT YOU WOULD DO IT? "No. I slid a little bit in the grass at Charlotte in 2002 when we won the Coke 600 over the Coke logo that was in the grass. I don't see me doing a burnout ever of any kind or a snow angel."
SO YOU WERE BEING PRETTY WILD AND CRAZY GOING THROUGH THE GRASS? "That was it, yeah. That was a stretch for me. I'll just collect the hardware. I'd rather take the checkered flag and hurry on in to Victory Lane and get there so I can start enjoying it."
-credit: gm racing