Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, is fourth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings with three races remaining before the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Martin spoke about returning to Bristol Motor Speedway and further...
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, is fourth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings with three races remaining before the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Martin spoke about returning to Bristol Motor Speedway and further addressed his outlook for 2007.
MARK MARTIN -- No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion
HAVE YOU MADE ANYMORE HEADWAY AS FAR AS DECIDING WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO DO IN 2007? "No. I'm just focused on what we're doing right here. I had a lot of fun Wednesday night and I'm just gonna kind of wait and see what materializes here and see what looks exciting. That truck is an awful lot of fun."
IF YOU STAYED IN CUP IS THERE ANY CHANCE YOU WOULD DRIVE FOR SOMEBODY OTHER THAN ROUSH? "There are certain scenarios that might bring that around. I'm interested in a limited schedule and, obviously, I would love to do that with Jack, but that would kind of mess up the 6 car. I wish they didn't have a limitation on teams, but I'm not worried about it. I've got a chase to try to make. I've got it the best in the world. I have nothing to worry about for 2007 -- nothing."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE TRUCK RACE. "Thanks to Jack and all the guys on the Scotts team. They just had that Ford wired in. It's such a pleasure to drive for those guys. You only hit it that good once every so often. Those guys are tough. You see Todd Bodine every race and he's tough to beat, and there are so many other great drivers and great teams there. Believe me, I don't take it for granted. It's a privilege to drive for those guys."
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO SATURDAY NIGHT TO TRY TO SOLIDIFY YOUR POSITION IN THE STANDINGS? "I'll do everything I can, but I do everytime I come here and I've been in wrecks a lot as of late, so we'll really focus on doing our best in qualifying and doing our best to stay on top of things in the race, but there are only so much you can do. You're really powerless here to a bigger extent than anywhere else."
IT LOOKS LIKE 50 FULL-TIME CUP TEAMS NEXT YEAR. WILL THAT BE GOOD FOR THE SPORT? "I guess it depends on who you ask. I think it will be really good for the fans. I think it is good for the sport. I think it's the most exciting time in NASCAR. It's thrilling to have Juan Montoya coming and Villeneuve, considering that's a big move for where NASCAR has come and where it's going. From a competitor's standpoint, it will have to take your breath away. It's gonna be bigger and better and tougher than ever before."
HAS RACING THE TRUCKS PUT ANY EXTRA STRAIN OR PRESSURE ON YOU? "I'm stretched pretty thin this year, but I seem to be holding up pretty well. I'm doing a lot of neat stuff with AAA, helping them promote teen driver safety and things for them and all of our other sponsors as well. I'm driving a lot of stuff -- 67 races -- so it's a lot, but it's all going good. You caught me on a day when I've got a smile on my face, so I guess that's a good thing. I feel like I'm on top of the world. I've got a truck team sitting there waiting for me that's a dream come true and a lot of other interesting possibilities here. I'm driving for a great team with a great sponsor and have a shot at the chase. I don't know what else a guy could ask for."
WITH KENSETH RUNNING SO WELL IN RECENT RACES IS THERE ANYTHING OF HIS SETUPS THAT YOU CAN TRANSLATE TO YOUR CAR? "It's not driving styles. We know what they're running for setups. We can't find the intimate details of what is making those work. It's hard to get those intimate details out of them."
WOULD A WIN HERE MEAN AS MUCH OR MORE TO YOU THAN ANY OTHER PLACE? "At this stage of the game a win anywhere would be a big deal. I've said a lot that you don't get to choose where you win, you're just lucky if you get the win, so I'll take it wherever it comes. They're running good. They will run good here. We know what they have here. We ran basically what they had last time and we ran sixth, but they are really good right now at some race tracks that we can't run their setup. It would be nice, but they're trying to win a championship too, so we'll just have to see how things work out."
IS THIS AS RACE AS UNPREDICTABLE AS A PLATE RACE? "It's as unpredictable as Talladega. It's right up at the top of the list for not having control of your own destiny. Certainly you need to run well here and you need to pit smart and all those things, but you can do everything right or you can do everything wrong and it doesn't matter. If it's your day to have a bad day, there's not much you're gonna be able to do about it."
HOW MUCH DOES EXPERIENCE PLAY A PART HERE FOR A GUY LIKE DENNY HAMLIN? "Luck is way more important than experience, so if he's got good luck on his side, he's in great shape. It doesn't matter how much experience you have here, if you've got bad luck, you're not gonna do any good."
HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A RACE HERE WHERE IT ENDED AND PEOPLE WEREN'T ANGRY? "Yeah, but I can't say that I look at everybody. I've walked away from here not knowing about any controversy."
DO YOU THINK NASCAR IS A LITTLE MORE LENIENT HERE THAN MOST PLACES? "That's a good question. From my standpoint, I think they're equally consistent here as anywhere else, but that's not the most fair viewpoint. My viewpoint is blurred by all the other things that go on, but my response to that question is I think it's consistent."
MAYBE YOU FEEL THAT WAY BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T BEEN THE VIOLATOR IN RECENT YEARS. "That's true." EVERY DRIVER WHO RACES WITH YOU COMMENTS ABOUT HOW CLEAN YOU RACE. CAN YOU DO THAT HERE OR DO THEY HAVE TO SEE A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT MARK MARTIN HERE? "You can do it here, but they can't abuse you. It they abuse me, then it's different. But it can be done here and it can be done everywhere. It just depends on if someone thinks they're gonna abuse or not. If they're gonna abuse, then things might get a little tougher."
ARE OTHERS MORE PRONE TO ABUSE YOUR STYLE AND FAIRNESS FOR CLEAN RACING HERE THAN AT OTHER PLACES? DO YOU FIND YOURSELF GETTING BEAT ON AND ABUSED MORE? "No, they're more likely to not abuse me and abuse someone else because of my history."
SO YOU GET A BREAK HERE IN A WAY? "I get a break almost everywhere based on my history. That's how I view it, but, certainly, you can't give many breaks here. If I earn a break here, I typically always get it and where someone might not that doesn't have the same history that I have. That's how I feel about it. I race everyone. If someone earns a break with me on the race track, they get it -- here or anywhere else. For the most part, I feel like I'm treated fairly out there and if it was to go the other way, then we can race people the way they race us and do to some degree."
WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE AT THIS TRACK? "It wasn't a big deal coming here. We raced Winchester and Salem, Indiana. I had heard about Bristol, but I knew it was a lot like Winchester and Salem, so it wasn't that big of a deal to me. It wasn't anything real different. Like the first time I went to Daytona, I had never seen anything like that but here, it wasn't a shock because I had done a lot of racing at Winchester and Salem."
YOU SEEM MORE RELAXED THESE DAYS? "I feel pretty tense. It's been really hard to sleep the last week or two. It's still pretty intense. I wish it wasn't, but I still care just like this is my first time. I still care just as much."
IS IT BECAUSE OF WHERE YOU ARE IN THE CHASE AS OPPOSED TO IT BEING THE LAST TIME? "I'm not thinking or considering about my future in racing. I'm thinking and considering now and from now until December. That's all I'm really focused on."