MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed the format for the All-Star race, the drug testing policy, having fun racing and much more. WOULD YOU DO ANYTING YOURSELF IF...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed the format for the All-Star race, the drug testing policy, having fun racing and much more.
WOULD YOU DO ANYTING YOURSELF IF YOU WERE THE GUY MAKING THE CALLS TO CHANGE THE FORMAT OF THIS RACE TO MAKE IT MORE SORT OF A STANDARD FORMAT THAT MAYBE STAYS THE SAME YEAR TO YEAR OR A FORMAT THAT MIGHT MAKE THE RACE A LITTLE MORE EXCITING? "Well let me answer the last question first. If they put me in charge I would mess everything up. Years ago I would have made it more like a regular race because I didn't like the fact that this race basically to put it bluntly is set up to make it where the fastest car doesn't win. So it's exciting for the fans. Well at this stage of the game I'm kind of like understanding that so I think the format is pretty awesome. It think it's great. So I think the format is pretty awesome. I think it's great. It's great for the fans. You don't have to have the fastest car to win this race because things kind of go up in the air especially late in the race here. I applaud the format. The ten-lap shootout is much more exciting than 20. I always hated the inversion with a passion. I'm not so sure that's a bad idea either from a fan standpoint. This is a real privilege for all of us to be able to participate in and we have to make sure it is something specials for the fans. And I think they're doing their best at that."
OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE A TON OF MOMENTUM ON YOUR SIDE COMING INTO THIS WEEKEND, HOW MUCH IF AT ALL DO YOU THINK THAT CAN HELP YOU IN THIS RACE WITH THIS RACE BEING DIFFERENT? "Momentum is great until a dollar part breaks it then it doesn't carry you. You love momentum. It's great and everything but I don't subscribe to that curing any issues that you have (laughing). No matter how much momentum you have if you happen to miss the set up and have a slow car it doesn't fix that for you so you have to do the job week in and week out momentum or not."
YOU SAID BECAUSE OF THE SITUATION WITH JEREMY (MAYFIELD) EVERYBODY IS A LITTLE BIT NERVOUS, EVERYONE IS LEARY OF OTC'S, WOULD IT HELP YOU IF YOU JUST KNEW WHAT IT WAS THAT JEREMY TESTED POSITIVE FOR AND IF IT CAME OUT THAT IT WAS AN ILLEGAL SUBSTANCE, NARCOTIC, CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE WHAT WOULD YOUR REACTION BE? "Well I think from my standpoint and other drivers if that is what is was I think we would be not as on edge. On the other end I would be disappointed for Jeremy and our sport but yeah I do feel that it we would all feel a little bit better if we knew because when you pick up the paper and you see NASCAR zero tolerance what does that mean. If you're taking something as prescribed what does zero tolerance mean. So it's just a little bit scary. It's a little uneasy. It's our careers man. I'm sure that we're all over reacting a little bit but certainly nobody wants to be caught up in that. People have allergies, people have whatever. They have injuries and stuff and I'm sure that's all fine. Dr. Black says that's all fine but it's still pretty scary. I made my call to Dr. Black this week. I'm sure there are a number of others as well."
WHAT DID YOU ASK HIM ABOUT? "I asked him about anti-inflammatory. You know anti-inflammatories. They weren't even testing for that is what he said. Well he didn't say that specifically, he said I don't think they're even testing for that. That's anti-inflammatory. I don't know what he even said. Something like we're not looking for that. That's like Advil or something like that or a prescription anti-inflammatory for an injury that I have and that probably a third of the guys in the garage have some sort of injury that is relieved by some degree from anti-inflammatories of some kind."
DO THEY NEED A LIST OF SUBSTANCES THIS IS WHAT YOU CAN'T TAKE? "Let me just say this. I'm way not smart enough to be having any more conversations about this. I'm way not smart enough. I don't know. I'm not very comfortable talking about it. NASCAR is way smarter than I am, formats, racing. If they had put me in charge 15 years ago we wouldn't have the sport that we have today although I thought I knew what I was talking about. They're way smarter than I am. I don't know and I haven't had any discussions with them about why there's not a list or whatever. Everyone just wants to make sure they're right and they don't accidentally trip up. I thought this thing was supposed to keep marijuana, cocaine, heroin and things like that out of the deal. That was my assumption of what the drug policy was all about."
IT SEEMS LIKE WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS A LOT OF THE UNEASYNESS AND THE NERVOUSNESS COMES FROM NOT KNOWING WHAT EXACTLY COULD GET YOU IN TROUBLE, WOULD YOU LIKE TO KNOW WHAT EXACTLY COULD GET YOU IN TROUBLE? "Of course but NASCAR must have a very good reason why there's not. I don't know. But yeah, absolutely. I think most of us would like to know what was on or not on that list. I'm sure they have a good reason why there is no list. I'm not educated enough to be the spokesperson on all this stuff. I don't know."
MICHIGAN WAS ALWAYS A PLACE THAT YOU'VE HAD PRETTY GOOD SUCCESS AT, WHAT IS IT ABOUT MICHIGAN THAT YOU LIKE? "Handling is almost everything everywhere we go except for Talladega and then Daytona and then after that it's almost everything everywhere in today's deal, but the corners are so big at Michigan if you're really good on handling it shows up even more there than it would somewhere else. It pays dividends if you get your car handling better than the next guy. It pays more there than most."
I SPOKE TO JUSTIN ALLGAIER AND HE REALLY ADMIRES YOU AND SAYS HE WOULD LIKE TO BECOME THE KIND OF DRIVER THAT YOU ARE, COULD YOU JUST TALK A LITTLE ABOUT HIM? "I don't know him. I've seen him on TV and seen his interview. He certainly did a great job performance wise and speaks very well and seems very respectful which is nice to see out of young guys. I didn't know him but I knew his dad when I was a kid racing and it's really cool to see because I knew his dad well. He was at the short-track races all through the mid-west back when I was getting started. So it's cool to see him having the success he's having."
IT JUST SEEMS LIKE YOU'RE HAVING A LOT OF FUN ON THE TRACK ESPECIALLY WITH YOUR RECENT SUCCESS, CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR MENTAL FRAME RIGHT NOW? ARE YOU ENJOYING AS MUCH AS YOU LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE? "Yeah, it's not a show. You pretty much see what you get with me. I feel like I've learned a lot in the last two or three years and really, really, really come to appreciate this sport and how much I love it and the privilege that it is to participate on the level that I get to participate and to have the opportunity to be competitive at this stage in my career is really special. I'm living it up. I'm really enjoying it."
DO YOU KIND OF FEEL FOR DALE JR. WITH ALL HE'S FACED AS BEING THE FACE OF NASCAR AND NOT HAVING THE PERFORMANCE BE THERE AND FINISHING RATHER POORLY THESE DAYS? "Let's take the performance out of the equation just for a second and let me tell you personally how I feel about Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I feel that he's the strongest man, got the broadest, strongest shoulders of any man in NASCAR racing and I would not trade places with him. Absolutely not. That being said, when we talk about the performance side of it every great race car driver goes through what Dale Jr. is going through. Sometimes it's just not as big of news and sometimes it is big news. Jeff Gordon went through slight of that last year himself. His dad went through it. I went through it. I've been through it more than once where we didn't get the kind of performance or results that we were all capable of. My team and I were capable of. That's what they go this year. This year they are a better team and have actually run better than the results they've gotten and they have some work to do on how they run as well. It will come around. Where they're at right now is they just need to not let the pressure get them so tight that they can't perform at their best level. So my advice to Junior was hey this is All-Star weekend come here and take a deep breath and take a deep breath for your team and go out here and have some fun and let this thing come to you. It's going to come around. It's going to come around for those guys."
IN OTHER SPORTS IS BECOMES PRETTY APPARENT WHEN IT'S TIME FOR GUYS TO RETIRE, WHAT TELLS A DRIVER WHEN IT'S TIME TO RETIRE? "I'm not sure, probably its different things for different people. For some that love the sport and not be a contender every week maybe it's when they can't get a ride. For others that can't stand to be anywhere but a contender then after they're convinced they can't be anymore than after they're convinced they can't be anymore then that's when. For some they want to step out at the top of their game and it all depends. I think it's a little bit different for each individual."
IS IT AS MUCH ABOUT DESIRE AS SKILLS DETERIORATING? "It's all a combination. I think that some drivers are given up on by teams, owners and sponsors before its time. I think that happens and causes the performance to not be there and eventually leads to the necessity to step out. I think that happens quite often."
HOW DID YOUR WORKOUT GO YESTERDAY AT PEAK FITNESS? "I wish you wouldn't advertise that. It won't be as much fun the next time that I go if everybody in the world knows that I'm there. It went good. It was lots and lots of fun because I got to take Matt for the first time. He started about three weeks ago a very ambitious weight lifting program so it was really fun because they got to take him in. When we went in the place was almost empty. There weren't very many people and I got to take him through my routine so I really enjoyed it. It was pretty cool."
WHEN YOU WERE GOING THROUGH THAT SLOW START AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SEASON, HOW DID YOU KEEP YOUR POISE AND WHAT WAS YOUR MINDSET TO GET YOU THROUGH THAT? "When we broke down in California we were about a tenth-place car which wasn't very comforting but it was a lot better than running 25th. It was our first down force race together and we learned a lot from that race and I've been much stronger ever since. We were running fourth at Vegas when we blew up and ran top-five the whole race and we were running fourth in Atlanta when we cut the tire. So from Vegas on we've been very comforted by the performance on the race track not to say that California was not a good one but we certainly have gotten better since then. It was a little below our expectations in California but we've learned a lot and we've gotten much better as we've been able to work together. The performance is what kept us going and kept our chins up and I think the bond between Alan (Gustafson) and I and the whole team and I has grown through the season. After Phoenix it felt very strong. Prior to the start of the Darlington race and is even stronger now. I think that's incredible. That's very important and that won't be broken by any bad luck or disappointment."
-credit: gm racing