Texas II: Martin - Ford Friday interview

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, finds himself in eighth-place, 201 points behind first, after being involved in an accident late in last weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Martin spoke about his...

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, finds himself in eighth-place, 201 points behind first, after being involved in an accident late in last weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Martin spoke about his chase chances after practice on Friday.

MARK MARTIN - No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion

IS TOO MUCH BEING MADE OF THE BUMP IN ONE AND TWO? "To get right to the problem, the problem is we're coil-binding springs so we have no suspension when we go across that bump. It becomes a problem when you don't have any front suspension, but on the old springs it wouldn't be much of a problem or wouldn't be a problem really to speak of because we're virtually zero suspension."

WILL IT AFFECT THE RACE? "Not problems, but you have to work around that. I don't really think it'll cause anymore issues. If a guy is loose and he goes across that and the front scoots up and he doesn't know to release some steering wheel, then he'll spin out. But most of these guys are awfully sharp and awfully good and we find ways to spin out without bumps. The reason people are talking about it is we don't have any cushion for that."

DO YOU HAVE TO TIP-TOE THROUGH ONE AND TWO? "I think we work on our cars and make it better. To be honest, I would hate to see them fix it because a new piece of asphalt across there, whew. I think everybody loves this asphalt, so, personally, I'll take the bumps. I'll take the great with the not-so-great."

IS THIS A VASTLY DIFFERENT TRACK THAN '97 AND '98?  "It's
not even in the same area.  It's not the same.  It's a great race track and
I would hate to see them pave on it right now.  It's awfully good."

WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THE CHASE? "The same as always pretty much. Obviously we're too far back now, but it's been a great year. I've got a great team and we're digging as hard as we can. We go out here and race for the front like we do every week and we'll see if we can come up with one."

HOW MANY POINTS DO YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO BE WITHIN TO HAVE A CHANCE GOING INTO HOMESTEAD? "I don't know. You're reaching too deep. I'm not sure why you would even ask that question. Let's just go racing."

JUNIOR SAYS HE NEEDS TO BE WITHIN 20 AND JIMMIE SAYS WITHIN 30. "Yeah, but 90 would work. You just have to be real lucky and nobody wants to have to be real lucky. It can work from anywhere within striking distance, but it all has to be just right for you. It all has to line up just right. Just look at Kurt Busch's win when the wheel came off, meaning he couldn't have steered it. He missed the wall by six inches and he won the championship. It was six inches or less from being fifth in the points, so anything can happen. Let's just watch and see what happens."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE YEAR SO FAR? "I think the fans have made it the year of my career, that along with being able to savor a great opportunity and having a shot at the championship, making the chase one more time and the time I've been able to spend with the competitors and savor all this time and all this history."

HOW MUCH FUN HAVE YOU HAD WITH THE TRUCKS? "I've had a lot of fun in the trucks. I've had a good deal of fun in the Cup car. I've had my ups and downs and our frustrations have run as high as ever and our fun meter has been pegged at times this year, so it's all good."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE THE FORGOTTEN VICTIM OF THE ROLL BAR PADDING CAUTION? "It's just unfortunate. You have to be just in the right place at the right time to either miss or be caught up in one. If I would have been 20 feet further forward or 20 feet further back, which is pretty incredible after 475 miles, I'd have been alright, but I wasn't so I accept it. I'm very grateful for the fans and how they've supported me this year. Their cheers the last half a dozen races have meant a lot more to me than a Cup trophy would."

ARCHIE MANNING IS ONE OF THE MOST BELOVED FORMER QUARTERBACKS AND HE SEEMS TO GET MORE POPULAR WITH THE FANS EVERY YEAR. DO YOU THINK YOU COULD HAVE A BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FANS AFTER YOU STOP RUNNING FOR TITLES? "That would be incredible. I hate to see a decline. It's at an all-time high today. The cheers that I got the last half-dozen races has meant more to me than a Nextel Cup trophy would and we'll have to see what next year brings, but I think the fans appreciate the fact that no matter how many times I've got knocked down, I brush myself off and try not to complain too much and come right back at 'em. I love this sport and I'm not ready to be a spectator. I'm a big fan of this sport, but I'm not ready to be a spectator yet. I still have some good racing left in me and I want to get out there and do it. I appreciate the kind of support I've had, especially this year."

DO YOU KNOW ANYMORE ABOUT YOUR TRUCK SCHEDULE FOR NEXT YEAR? "We're waiting on the Woods to come up with a sponsor. You know, you push too hard too soon for answers when there weren't answers, so I can't give you answers. I don't expect things not to work out. They're looking to secure a sponsorship and we're looking at Daytona to be the first one. I'm in the process of starting to assemble my Busch and Truck schedule at this time and as they come up with sponsorships, we'll see if we add more or less to the number of approximately five. It's possible to do more and I don't expect to do less than that."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TERRY LABONTE'S LAST RACE? "I'll have a better perspective on that answer after Bristol because that's gonna be the first one that I sit out. I feel a lot of different emotions towards him and all that. He knows more of what he's approaching than I do because he's been on a limited schedule. I just want everybody to happy and I want Terry Labonte to be happy. I hope that he's able to do that because all of us here one day won't be able to do the thing that we most love and that's hard to come to grips with."

DID TERRY CALM THE WATERS AT HENDRICK IN YOUR OPINION AND BECOME A CATALYST FOR THEM? "He very well could be because Terry is methodical, even-keeled and I'm sure he brought some stability to them. They were able to build strength and build momentum and really get on the right track and done a good job of staying near the top of their game, which is something no one can do in this business. Some can stay closer than others, but you can't always be at the top of your game because of the rate of competition in this sport."

WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF RUNNING A LIMITED SCHEDULE? "The pros, obviously, is it's just a brutal schedule. I don't have to go into that and that applies to everyone, even the team members. It sometimes prevents you from preparing as thoroughly as you'd like to, but there are a lot more negatives or hardships created by that because it's hard to fund a team that races on a part-time schedule in any way, shape or form that can compete against the big ones that are rockin' and rollin' all the time. That's the real difficulty and the downside of it, trying to figure out how to be competitive with that, but we believe if you can do it with a full-time team and split the drivers up, then that's an opportunity for the best of both worlds for me. It's an opportunity for it to be at least."

-credit: ford racing

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Terry Labonte , Kurt Busch , Mark Martin