MARK MARTIN -- No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion "My car was really, really good in qualifying. We spent some time in race trim at the beginning of practice. We had a good baseline from last fall's race. We had a great race with Carl Edwards and we're...
MARK MARTIN -- No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion
"My car was really, really good in qualifying. We spent some time in race trim at the beginning of practice. We had a good baseline from last fall's race. We had a great race with Carl Edwards and we're gonna try to improve on that just a little bit. We came up with some good ideas to try tomorrow to maybe improve on that just a little. Then we switched to qualifying trim and made a few runs and the last run was really good. It was 12th fastest or on the board -- or 11th -- so we made one or two minor adjustments and just really got a lap. It was sweet. I'm having a good weekend."
DENNY HAMLIN HAD SOME WORDS AFTER MARTINSVILLE. HAS DRIVING STYLES CHANGED A LOT?
"I think Denny was frustrated after the race and said some things that drew more attention than he might have wanted. We certainly did have a couple of minor scrapes on the race track, but your point is there. The sport is changing and there is no changing it. The Cup racing of the future is gonna be slam bang quite a bit more than what we saw in the past. There's a lot of pressure. There's a lot of competition and once several drivers start racing like that, then it makes everyone have to raise or lower to that level, whichever way you would want to call it."
DOES A LOT OF ATLANTA TRANSLATE TO TEXAS?
"That's a good question. I never really related Atlanta to here, but I think the teams that excel at California, Vegas and Atlanta will tend to excel here, so, in a sense, yes. But, really, we don't relate our Atlanta setup to here. Basically what we did is we had a great run last fall here, a great race with Carl Edwards, and we brought that very setup and spent a little time looking for areas that we might improve that from and we have some ideas for tomorrow to just noodle around in it a little bit. Basically, if we have the same right-rear spring as Atlanta, which we don't, but if we did it would be not because we ran and ran good at Atlanta, but because we ran well here last fall."
SO IT DOESN'T TRANSLATE?
"In a way it does. The teams that excel there will probably excel here, but with a more than slightly different setup. The race track is quite different and I feel like the shock package will be different and I feel like your springs will certainly be different than Atlanta to some degree."
YOU HAVE MORE TRUCK RACES AND YOUR MUSEUM IS OPENING. YOU'RE A BUSY GUY.
"I have reached the point where that's too much, but the additional truck races was an important tool for me. The seven races were all I wanted to do. Ford and our sponsors all got really excited with the success that we had. They came back and wanted me to do a lot more -- more than seven more -- and I used that as a tool to get my deal in place for '07 and '08. I said, 'There won't be more unless, and then if you do commit to '07 and '08, then I'll do seven and look at the possibility of others.' We do have seven Busch races on the schedule -- two Pennzoil and five Ameriquest -- and that clouds the issue slightly. I put my foot down on a tripleheader weekend, which I'm doing here, but IROC is not quite as intense as doing Truck, Cup and Busch all in one weekend. I tried that in Atlanta in November. I won't do that again and I won't do many more of these triples like this. It's way too much, but the other thing you said, I'm so excited about our grand opening next week. The most fun event I had in 2005 was our Ford Fan Day last year in Batesville because I had all day for two days to hang out with my fans. It wasn't just signing autographs. I signed autographs a lot, but there's times when I've got to take a break and I got to go through the crowd, hang out with them and take a look at their photo albums from the races -- pictures I had never seen before. There's a lot of really important stuff that goes on there, and it's gonna be a blast. We really have a lot of interactive racing things to do for our fans and I'm incredibly proud of the place. I'm really looking forward to next weekend."
DID THE FORD EXECUTIVES SAY YOU WERE THEIR HOPE FOR THE TRUCK CHAMPIONSHIP? THE ONE GLADIATOR AGAINST TOYOTA?
"Not directly, although Roush Racing is gonna try to win the owner's championship with the 6 truck. David Ragan is gonna drive it when I don't drive it and David Ragan is gonna do a fabulous job so he's gonna go after the owner's championship. But Ford certainly did get excited at the prospect of having some competition for the Toyotas. The Truck Series is different. There's more fierce manufacturer competition in the Truck Series, in my opinion, than in Cup. That kind of makes it cool that the manufacturers take a lot of interest."
DO YOU SEE MATT MAYBE TAKING OVER FOR YOU IN THE TRUCK SOME DAY?
"Jack Roush once told me in some kind of words that if Matt wanted to race that he could race with Roush Racing. I don't know what Matt's gonna do. He's 14 and I would really be disappointed right now if he had his whole life mapped out in front of him. It's hard to say. Maybe by the time I'm ready to slip out of that seat, which I hope to be in for quite some time, maybe he would be ready for that, but he's 14 and we've got a lot of things. His education is primary. Racing is certainly not even secondary. It's probably third on the list right now, so we'll have to wait and see."
DID YOU LEAVE TWO TENTHS OUT THERE, WHICH WAS THE DIFFERENCE FROM KASEY?
"No, I'd kill myself. Maybe to get J.J. Maybe five-one hundredths was doable without killing myself, but two-tenths? No, out of the question. You could give me another chance at it and I wouldn't even try to go that fast. We're real proud of our run. Qualifying is not our real strong suit so that really bodes well for our AAA team. I know I've told most of you, but I didn't expect 2006 to be the time of my life, but I am having the time of my life and I know that just a few years down the road I'm gonna look back and say, 'Man, those were the good old days.'"
THOUGHTS ON WINNING RACES.
"I think it's possible, based on how we're running, that we could win a number of races, but I guard myself. What I really keep my focus on is the effort and not worry about what the results might be, but just keep my eye on the ball. I am having the time of my life. I certainly want to exit 2006 with the competitors looking at me and saying, 'God, that guy was still at the top of his game.' I'm having too much fun."
WHERE ARE YOU FINDING THIS ENTHUSIASM?
"If you noticed, I couldn't give you answers at Daytona. I was really concerned. I hadn't found it. I had a real empty place inside. I just really wasn't ready, but we got through Daytona and I was pleased. We certainly could have done better, but we certainly could have done worse. Then we went right on to California and we picked up where we left off last year and it's really been good. I think the competitive fire is there and the confidence is there that I have a car. The thing that scared me the most about my career was in 2003 I didn't have the car to drive and I really looked bad and I felt bad. I know that I probably have better cars right now than I had last year and that gives me great confidence in going forward. I know that I can qualify 30th here because I've done it, and I also know that I can qualify in the top five like I did today not trying any harder. I think most of the fire you're seeing in me is really a reflection of the cars that I'm driving and the team that I'm working with, which is really at the top of their game."