Atlanta II: This Week in Ford Racing

This Week in Ford Racing October 25, 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, heads into this weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in seventh place in the point standings. He...

This Week in Ford Racing
October 25, 2005

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, heads into this weekend's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in seventh place in the point standings. He trails leader Tony Stewart by 170 points with only four races remaining. Martin spoke during this week's NASCAR NEXTEL teleconference about his position and what he needs to do in order to close the gap..

MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus

HOW IS YOUR TEAM COMING TOGETHER AS THE CHASE WINDS DOWN?

"I think they've been coming together. It looks to me like we've pretty much peaked when we hoped to do it. We've been knocking out top-fives and top-10s and I'm proud of these guys. I couldn't be happier with the opportunity to work with such great people that have such a strong commitment to winning."

WHY DO YOU THINK YOUR TEAM HAS BEEN SO LOYAL TO YOU?

"I'm not really sure. I guess I'm just lucky. I can't be the most fun driver in the world to work with. I'm not a comedian. I've put a lot of emphasis on effort and not a lot of emphasis on having fun, so maybe they respect my work ethic and how bad I want it and the respect that I give them. They've earned my respect to the highest degree and I try to treat them with the kind of respect they deserve."

WHAT WERE YOUR INITIAL THOUGHTS ON THE CHASE AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT NOW?

"I hated the chase - the idea of the chase. I was sick to my stomach to think that we would make changes in a historic format for the sake of entertainment. I think I was wrong. I think I've made the clear to everyone. At the banquet in 2004 I gave Brian (France) and NASCAR an apology for being wrong."

WHAT DOES IT DO WELL?

"I think it's exciting and more interesting for the fans. That translates into health for the sport that we love."

HOW DOES IT CHANGE THINGS FOR THE DRIVER? IS IT MORE EXCITING FOR THEM?

"Probably not the ones that don't make it. You'll have to check with them. I've made it both years, so I don't know. It's been good for me."

TESTING AT HOMESTEAD IS IN DOUBT FOR NEXT WEEK. WILL THAT AFFECT YOU?

"We had plans too, but if nobody can, then nobody will. That's just how it is. I didn't realize that it would be a problem next week, but we'll deal with it."

WILL THAT TRACK BE A PROBLEM IF THERE'S NO TESTING?

"We're all professionals. We all go to these different tracks every week. It'll be fine. We did test our truck down there and that was the main thing. We're gonna run the truck, the Busch car and the Cup car, so everything is fine. I'm looking forward to it. I'm expecting to test, but if we don't, we don't."

WHY DIDN'T YOU DO A BURNOUT AFTER YOUR WIN AT KANSAS?

"Burnouts are for juveniles. They're for the kids. You didn't ever see Dale Earnhardt doing burnouts. There were a few spins through the grass and that's about it. Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, Richard Petty - I'm old school and Rusty is, too. The last time I saw Terry Labonte win he just rode it right over to Victory Lane after he won as well. It's just not our style. My luck I'd wind up with the same engine parts in my car in the next race and they'd break, so it's just not what I do. I'm old school. It's pretty entertaining to watch these young kids do them, though. They put on a heck of a show."

YOU DON'T THINK PEOPLE SHOULD BE DOING IT THAT WAY?

"I didn't say that at all. I don't think an old man should do it. That's all. I just don't think the old guys should because they never did before. All that would be doing is copying the kids."

YOU WERE OPTIMISTIC THIS WEEKEND AND IT DIDN'T QUITE WORK OUT. DO YOU FEEL YOU DO BETTER IF YOU LOOK AT THINGS AS IF THEY MIGHT NOT WORK OUT WELL?

"Optimism doesn't get results. I'm not a pessimist by any stretch of the imagination whatsoever. Anybody that knows me knows I'm not a pessimist, but certainly there are guys that say they're gonna win every single time they go out on the race track and they don't, and that would disappoint me. I'm embarrassed that I expected to have a chance to win at Martinsville and didn't because I said I did, so the next time maybe I'll just keep my mouth shut. But I am not a pessimist by any means. It's ridiculous for anybody to say that, but I am a lot more realistic than some people. I know that I have a great team and great cars and a great opportunity, and we're having the year of my career, but at the same time I can't expect to have everything go my way every time I step out on the race track."

CAN YOU DISCUSS THE PROTOCOL OF TRYING TO STAY ON THE LEAD LAP AND RACE HARD OR LETTING THE LEADER PASS?

"It's up to the guys. It's up to every individual to do whatever they think is right, and over a period of time you typically develop a pattern and everyone gets to know that pattern and knows what to usually expect from people over a period of time. That's the way it goes. The way you conduct yourself on that race track is largely up to you."

SO SOMETIMES IT'S OKAY TO RACE HARD LIKE THAT AND SOMETIMES IT'S NOT? WHAT'S WRONG WITH TRYING TO STAY ON THE LEAD LAP?

"Because that's only one guy. That's being a benefit to that guy, but what is he doing to the other guy.?. There are other people that are hurt by that, so you have to weigh all that out. You just have to weigh it out."

THREE OF YOUR FOUR RUNNER-UP FINISHES ENDED UP AT ATLANTA. DO YOU HAVE ANY MEMORIES OF THOSE TIMES? DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT AT ALL?

"No, it never crosses my mind. I didn't even know what you were talking about there. No, it never even crossed my mind. That's the way the schedule was back then and now it's different. Forever the last race was Atlanta, whether we finished second or we finished third or wherever it was. That's not what I think about. I think about how we're gonna run better the next time we go than what we did 10 years ago."

WHEN YOU LEARNED YOU WERE COMING BACK NEXT YEAR, IS IT STILL DIFFERENT TO TRY AND GET YOURSELF REINVIGORATED FOR THAT AT ALL?

"It is. I mean, that's a good question for you to ask, but it's a difficult one for me to answer because the way I'm dealing with it is not dealing with it. I'm just not dealing with 2006 because 2005 has been overwhelming. I've had the laser-focus this year and my team has as well. We've worked incredibly hard. This is the hardest 10-race stretch that I've ever done in my entire lifetime with all the testing and the schedule and everything that's going on, so I'm not really gonna deal with 2006 until we get past the banquet in New York. Then I'll start trying to decide how it is that I'm gonna position things in my mind so that I'm at peace and so that I'm ready to take on 2006 with the same kind of enthusiasm that I did 2005. But I've got to get the banquet behind me."

HOW HAS YOUR SPONSOR HELPED PROMOTE MEN'S HEALTH OVER THE YEARS?

"We have done, together with Pfizer, a lot of men's health awareness. Pfizer has given over 100,000 free health screenings at the race tracks to fans, for example. In some cases these guys found out they had some kind of condition that they needed to go see a doctor about and possibly get treated for. It's been something that I would consider very important work that I've done over the past six years with them. They've been an awesome sponsor and the cause that we have worked on has been a very important cause, and I'm just proud to have had the opportunity to work on it with them."

HOW HAS YOUR PERSONAL WORKOUT ROUTINE CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?

"It hasn't changed very much. It's been going on about 18 years now. I'm 15 years older than I was 15 years ago, so I tailor my workout to benefit my age and my body type now - maybe different than I did 15 years ago - but for the most part the commitment is the same and the effort is the same. I was in there at 20 minutes after 5:00 this morning."

WHAT IS YOUR PHILOSOPHY ON LETTING A TEAMMATE LEAD A LAP FOR BONUS POINTS AT THIS POINT IN THE SEASON?

"I would have to say it's specific to each individual. You wouldn't let someone who wasn't your teammate lead a lap, unless you like him and you thought they would do the same for you. It's always been that way. Now that there are multiple teammates, you sort of have to do the same thing. You need to look at it and say, 'Yes, I will because he would,' or 'No, I wouldn't because he wouldn't.' It's pretty much straight forward."

THAT'S LEFT TO THE DRIVER?

"Yeah. I have four teammates in the chase and I have different deals with different drivers. All of the deals aren't exactly the same."

DID YOU SIT DOWN AND DISCUSS THE ISSUE?

"We've had a conversation after Kansas. I've had a conversation with each one since Kansas because we didn't have one before. Everyone needed to understand what the deal was, so that someone didn't give something up that wasn't gonna be able to get it back. Those are just rare occasions anyway. The occasion doesn't arise that often, but once in a while it does. I have a great relationship with each one of these guys and we pretty much have an understanding of what we'll do and won't do."

AND THAT'S CLEAR BEFORE THE RACE, AS FAR AS WHERE YOU STAND?

"I pretty much know where I stand with every driver out there. I would let a number of drivers lead a lap if I could, if they asked. It wouldn't matter to me who owned their cars or what. I have great relationships with a lot of them and I know where I stand with most of them. It's not only with teammates. There are 43 guys out there and we race against each other every week and we know each other. There are guys you would do it for and there are guys that you wouldn't."

HOW HARD IS IT FOR YOU NOT TO BAD-MOUTH OTHER DRIVERS?

"There was a race event this year that happened that the urge was almost uncontrollable. I thought about it long and hard and I really, really, really, really wanted to and I didn't, and I'm sure glad I didn't. But I thought about it."

IN SOME SPORTS COACHES HAVE TO KNOW WHEN TO PAT A GUY ON THE BACK AND WHEN TO GET STERN WITH THEM. DO YOU THINK YOUR GUYS ARE SO LOYAL BECAUSE YOU KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH THEM?

"I don't think that I'm that good with that. I understand your question. I'm not that good with people. I think it's more of the example I've set. I get frustrated like other people and though a lot of the fans don't see my frustration, I do get frustrated. When I get frustrated I'm like anyone else, I don't function quite the same when I'm frustrated as when I'm not. I do give those guys respect, and I appreciate them. I let them know how much their commitment means to me and all those kinds of things. I try to give them positive reinforcement and try to give them credit for what they do and how great they are. The rest of it, you'd have to ask them. I'm not sure where the rest of it comes from, but one of the greatest honors I've had is my team staying together for 2005. We had such a great season in 2004 and our camp was raided and people were trying to steal our guys, but these guys stayed because I asked them to stay and because they thought that we could contend for this championship once again. I feel they did that for me. They may have done it for themselves, but I say they did it for me and I choose to believe they did it for me and that's why I love them."

HOW MUCH HAS YOUR MENTALITY OF APPROACHING THE RACE PLAY INTO COMPARED HOW TO YOU DRIVE THE CAR?

"It may be all the same. I try to deal with everything in reality and I try to look at every competition with a realistic expectation, which the expectation is 100 percent, no limitations, no questions - 100 percent effort. Everything that you have, and I kind of expect that of everyone that works with me as well. When we go into an event, that's what I expect. I don't expect a great result, I expect the result to be what it is. My expectation, though, is the effort. I'm pretty demanding in the effort department, but the results, I just try to accept. I've been disappointed a lot in my career and I try to accept the result on whatever it is - like the day that you led the most laps and no one could touch you, but a dollar part broke and you wound up in the garage before the race is over. You can't let that tear you apart. You have to be strong enough to say, 'We'll get 'em next week.' Even sometimes when you know your car might not be that good next week, you still have to say, 'We'll get 'em next week.'"

WOULD YOU WORK FOR YOU?

"Yes, I would. I feel like I'm a good guy. I really treat these guys with respect. The only way you'll get crossed up with me is not with your limitations, but with your lack of effort. That will cause major problems, but if you have limitations, you're OK with me as long as you're digging as hard as you can dig. Those are my kind of people and I've been fortunate the last two years. I've had a whole group of people that have very little limitations and incredible drive and determination and will to work."

HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN GUYS LEAVE A TEAM AND WHAT ADVICE WILL YOU GIVE MATT KENSETH BECAUSE IT SEEMS HE'S GOING TO LOSE A LOT OF GUYS THIS YEAR?

"Matt will rebound well. Robbie has an incredible talent for picking the people who are able to rise to the occasion, rather than going out and robbing folks that are already getting the job done. That's one of Robbie's strong suits, so those guys will recover. But it is very disappointing at the same time. That is the order of business today in Nextel Cup racing. Every race team out there looks around and says, 'We need a guy. We'll just go hire whatever it takes to get him from whoever.' And that's what they do, instead of growing people, giving them an opportunity and letting them move up and learn. That's one of the great things about Roush Racing. There is not a lot of people at Roush Racing that have been robbed from other teams. They're people who wanted to do it and hadn't done it before and had a chance to work their way up. That's part of the business and it's a tough part, but I've survived all these years with people running at our people and Matt certainly will survive his winter here too and come back strong once again. That's what real champions do."

COULD SALARY CAPS END SOME OF THE THIEVERY THAT GOES ON BETWEEN THE PIT CREWS? COULD A CAP COME INTO PLAY?

"I don't really know. That's a great theory until you start trying to make it work and once you start trying to make it work it's very complicated. I don't think it would be the answer to the problem. We just have to keep on working. That's the nature of the business right now and you've just got to keep your head down and keep digging and keep looking for new talent. In a big organization like Roush Racing, we have the opportunity to grow these people through the Truck Series and up through Busch and Cup, so that's a benefit for us."

HOW WAS IT TO BE ON THE GUIDING LIGHT?

"We didn't know about it until the night before we were on, but Carl and I found out when we were up there in New York that that's what they had on the agenda for us. NASCAR and Nextel had it on the agenda for us the next day and it was fun."

DID YOU WATCH THE EPISODE?

"I haven't seen the episode. They wrote us right into the script and everybody was wonderful. It was a fun experience for me and I'm sure it was for Carl as well - to see the other side of the camera like that. It was pretty neat. It was neat to see those people and they treated us with respect and wrote us right into the script, so it was pretty cool."

THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF BUMPING OUT THERE LATELY. IS IT A CASE OF THE INTENSITY GOING UP BECAUSE OF THE CHASE?

"I'm not sure that I've seen any additional contact based on the chase. It's very intense racing that we're doing. It's very competitive and you have problems. Right now, if there's a problem on the race track everybody in the world knows about it because of the coverage, so I don't really see things that much different than they've been in the past."

SO IT'S JUST MAGNIFIED DUE TO THE INCREASED EXPOSURE?

"Yeah, and the increased competition. There are more cars running and more cars are the same speed. Cars don't fall out anymore, unless they get wrecked real bad. There used to be a lot of attrition and have half the cars running at the end of a race, but you don't have that much anymore so you're gonna have a little bit more scrapes out there."

-ford racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Darrell Waltrip , Terry Labonte , Tony Stewart , Richard Petty , Bobby Allison , Mark Martin