MOST STARTS: The 2010 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race will be Martin's 21st start in the non-points exhibition, which is the most for any driver locked into this year's field. Martin missed the first five all-stars before making his first start in...
MOST STARTS: The 2010 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race will be Martin's 21st start in the non-points exhibition, which is the most for any driver locked into this year's field. Martin missed the first five all-stars before making his first start in 1990. He has raced in every event since then, collecting two wins, seven top-five finishes and 10 top-10s. He has started from the front row twice and finished inside the top 10 in five of the last six races.
ALL-STAR REWIND: When Martin made his first career all-star start in the 1990 event, he lined up fourth and finished third, joining Dale Earnhardt Sr., Ken Schrader, Bill Elliott and Davey Allison in the top five. Of that group, Elliott is the only other driver who still races today.
TWO-TIME WINNER: Martin is a two-time all-star champion. Martin's first victory occurred in 1998 after he started fifth and led 31 laps. He also won in 2005 after starting from the outside pole position and leading 24 laps.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Gustafson has chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-527 for Saturday's race. This is the same chassis that Martin drove to Victory Lane at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway last May and at Chicagoland Speedway last July. Martin drove 5-527 to a sixth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year.
MIDDLE SCHOOL VISIT: Dion Williams, rear-tire carrier for the No. 5 team, will visit Statesville (N.C.) Middle School on Friday from 10:30-11:30 a.m. ET. Williams, a former linebacker at Wake Forest, will speak with the students about the importance of education, teamwork and getting a college degree.
DOUGH-NATION: Crew members on the Nos. 5 and 88 Hendrick Motorsports teams will go head-to-head this Sunday in the Pit Crew Cookie Eating Challenge held by Cookies for Kids' Cancer at the zMAX Dragway in Concord, N.C. The challenge will begin at 4:30 p.m. ET. and will be part of Taylor's Finish Line Festival.
MARK MARTIN, DRIVER, NO. 5 DELPHI/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET (ON THE ALL-STAR RACE.): "I love the All-Star Race. I think all of us drivers do. But I don't think anyone loves it as much as the fans. It's one of those in-your-face, just plain exciting deals that gets everyone fired up. No one worries about anything but the trophy and the paycheck. And having it at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- there's no better place for it. It's a perfect location. I don't think there are too many fans who leave the All-Star race disappointed."
MARTIN (ON POINTS NOT BEING A FACTOR.): "To me, on the winning side of things, I want to win this race just as much as I do any other race. I know that there's no points involved, but really that doesn't even enter my mind. If I don't win, I'm just as disappointed as I am when I don't win at Darlington (S.C.) or Talladega (Ala). Some guys go for the all or nothing route, but I don't. I ran third in 2007 and enjoyed that. It was right there. I was almost able to contend for the win. So I still take pride in racing for a position there and getting the most out of my effort."
MARTIN (ON HIS MINDSET ENTERING THE ALL-STAR RACE.): "The only thing that you have to change about yourself for this race is the way you approach it. This race has so many twists and turns with the different formats and pit stops and lap segments. It's crazy. So, yes, that is very different than a straight-up 500-mile race. There are different keys and moves you have to make to be in the best position at certain times in this race. And you have a lot less time to do it in. There's definitely a different approach."
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 DELPHI/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET (ON THE ALL-STAR RACE.): "I really, really like this race. It's fun. It's one of those races that you can be really aggressive in and there's no points penalty. Throw caution to the wind, so to speak. It's like a dress rehearsal for the 600 (600-mile event at Charlotte Motor Speedway). I don't like the schedule, though. Practice on Friday is pretty useless, which is frustrating because we practice during the day but race at night. As far as the race itself, it's great, exciting. If I had to choose one race a year to go to it would be on the top of my list."
GUSTAFSON (ON THE NEW REQUIREMENT OF A FOUR-TIRE PIT STOP BEFORE THE FINAL 10 LAPS.): "The four-tire pit stop is going to change some things, but it won't have a huge influence on the race overall. You're going to want to have the fastest pit stop as possible so you'll make some adjustments to the stop to have that happen. I think the biggest affect of it, really, is on the pit crew. It's a lot of pressure on them, and it makes the night even more so about them. Those guys are the ones that will be the most affected by the change."
GUSTAFSON (ON THE PIT CREW CHALLENGE.): "The pit crew challenge is fun. It's something everyone wants to win. It's not necessarily a real good correlation to the disciplines that we do on Saturday or Sunday in the race. It's a little specialized. But I think it's important to make the event fan friendly. The pit crew challenge splits up the different disciplines, with the car push and stuff like that just to generate some excitement. We all want to win, but at the same time I don't think it's a great barometer or measuring device for who has the best pit crew on pit road. Winning would be fun, but I'd much rather have better stops on race day."
GUSTAFSON (ON THE EMPHASIS PLACED ON PIT CREWS DURING THE ALL-STAR WEEK.): "I think it's nice these guys are getting some recognition. It's adding another variable of excitement to all of it. Really, qualifying for the All-Star Race is all about the pit stop. Obviously, you don't want to go out there and run a second slower than everybody else, but that pit stop is probably 60 to 70 percent of qualifying for the All-Star Race. And the pit crew challenge is what sets up drawing for pit stalls. The pit crew is a huge part of the week ahead. I'm glad the pit crews are getting some recognition for their hard work, but I think it's more about mixing up the competition than it is giving them praise."
MARK MAULDIN, NOS. 5/88 PIT CREW COACH (ON THE ADDITION OF A PIT STOP WITH 10 LAPS TO GO.): "That's a big deal. What it does is it just gives a pit stop more importance during the All-Star Race. Before, we had to pit under green in the first segment. There were three segments, and you had a 10-minute break in between to actually work on the car and get it the way you wanted for your last segment. Then it was pretty much out of our hands. I like it, that's why I continue to coach. I feel like we (the pit crew) are important. With the race on the line and the car coming down pit road, we want to make a difference. And I want people around me that feel the same way. We want it (the car) to come in, we want to pit it, we want to advance it. If we are just out there paddling around and not actually having an influence on the end of the race, then it's not too exciting for us."
MAULDIN (ON THE ALL-STAR RACE.): "The thing I enjoy about it is the pit crew only gets a couple chances during a short event like that. It really makes you focus, it really makes you be on your game because you're not at a Darlington (S.C.) that you're doing eight, nine pit stops, or somewhere that if you don't have a really super pit stop you can come in and do it again. We're going to have two or three chances, and we're going to make the best out of it. I enjoy that situation. I want our guys to feel like they're important and that they have a bearing on how things come out. We certainly do in this race."
WALT SMITH, NOS. 5/88 PIT CREW COORDINATOR (ON PREPARING FOR THE PIT CREW CHALLENGE.): "We don't overemphasize the pit crew challenge because if you get too caught up in it -- it's so different than anything we do normally -- you can get taken out of your mindset for your normal pit stops. We do practice for it. Here, we started about three weeks ago just going through choreography of the car push and where we wanted to place people and so forth. About two weeks ago we started implementing the positions. We had each position work with their partner to make sure they were best suited to go fast. The competition is all about going fast and not making mistakes -- just like a pit stop is. But you have to get comfortable with starting in a box, waiting for the buzzer to go 'three, two, one, beep.' We started that about two weeks ago. We've probably put eight to 10 hours in it. Nothing super elaborate, but we are prepared for it."