MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed making his 1000th start, racing at Bristol, Jimmie Johnson as a driver and much more. YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT MAKING YOUR 100TH ...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed making his 1000th start, racing at Bristol, Jimmie Johnson as a driver and much more.
YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT MAKING YOUR 100TH NATIONAL SERIES START AS YOU REFLECT ON 999 STARTS, TOMORROW NIGHT WILL BE 1000 CONGRATULATIONS. "Thank you. I didn't know it was coming until last weekend. It was just not something that was really on the radar screen. In some ways it's an accomplishment but really to me it's what you did in those 1000 starts that really matters. It's not just the sheer number it's what happened in those starts that makes it special."
LAST WEEK WAS A PRETTY DEVASTATING END RESULT FOR YOU IN THE STANDINGS, CAN YOU JUST TALK ABOUT LAST WEEK AND WHAT ALAN (GUSTAFSON) HAS BEEN DEALING WITH THIS WEEK AND WHAT YOU'VE HAD TO DO TO GET HIM OFF THE EDGE? "I worked at it Sunday night right away and Monday morning. He's a very, very competitive guy and he's so smart. It's such a special opportunity in my lifetime to work with him. He was doing much better on Tuesday. Just to lay it out, I've accomplished everything I had hoped to accomplish this year already and much more. The least difficult of all the things I hope to accomplish I thought would be making the Chase. Alan and I are both confident in our performance from here forward. I can't speak for him but I'm not so confident in our luck but I'm certainly confident in our performance and that really all we can do. In some ways the tension had increased because we should be comfortable in instead of where we are and I think that he and I both are working as hard as we can to keep that minimized. After all I did say I've accomplished everything that I hoped to and much more already this year. It just would be devastating for my team to not be included in that elite group but they have won more races than anyone else so far this year. I'm proud of that."
IN A SITUATION WHERE YOU HAVE SO MANY GUYS SO CLOSE IS IT IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO FOCUS MORE ON WHAT YOU ARE DOING OR DO YOU PAY MORE ATTENTION TO WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE DOING? "Before Chicago we were out. We were not in the Chase going into Chicago. Like I told you guys I decided after Chicago that's where my mind was going to stay, outside looking in. So that's how we're racing. We'll take it as it comes. We're very confident in our performance and we'll just see what happens. It's certainly a dog fight and there's a lot of racing left. Actually three races is a lot when you're talking about something like this."
WHEN YOU WERE ON YOUR PART TIME SCHEDULE WASN'T THIS ONE OF THE TRACKS YOU AVOIDED AND WHY? DOES THAT ADD SOME ANXIETY OF HAVING TO BE IN THE CHASE MIX WITH THIS RACE TRACK ON THIS SCHEDULE? "This race track was not on the schedule mainly because some had to come off or it wouldn't have been a limited schedule. I had been caught up in a lot of other people's wrecks here. That was prior to the redoing of the race track. Since then, it's great. We had a great run here, came here and sat on the pole and had a great run just like we did at Martinsville. It wasn't on the list either. No issues there.
IS KYLE BUSCH AND EASY TARGET FOR GUYS TO TAKE A SHOT AT? "I think that the competitors don't as much, but they may. I don't know. In my circles I certainly have great respect for Kyle. I'd be careful about that. I'd be careful about taking a shot at Kyle Busch because I have so much respect for him and his abilities and everything else. Obviously he's pretty self out there in ways to get criticized by the media and the fans and competitors a lot. What is he, 25? He's 24 (laughs). He's got a lot of time to evolve as a person as well as a driver. He's an incredible driver and I respect him. Obviously he's pretty self out there and made himself a target in many ways. Don't forget how good he is and that's one of the reasons why people take a shot."
ON POINTS RACING. "I'm not going to answer that incredibly directly but I am going to say this. I think there's lots of racing and I understand that the Chase is a big deal but last year when I raced it was every time I went to the race track it was about the race and the love for the sport. For many people in this sport the race is a big deal too. Points are points and points are what they are. Flat tires change points and of course they change outcomes of races too. All I'm saying is don't forget we still are racing every week and points are points. They are what they are. We're still racing. Let's talk about the excitement and the thrill of the events as well."
IT SEEMS LIKE LARGELY BECAUSE OF YOU OWNERS NOW ARE LOOKING FOR EXPERIENCED DRIVERS RATHER THAN LOOKING FOR THE NEXT 18-YEAR-OLD TO COME ALONG, IS THAT A LONG-TERM TREND AND WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO CHANGE IT BACK THE OTHER WAY? "It's a shorter long-time trend certainly until the economy changes. The economy has a lot to do with it not just what I've been able to accomplish or (Ron) Hornaday for example. It does have some to do with the economy, sure bets right now instead of taking the long-shot everyone is having to be a little bit more calculated with what they do. These young guys are going to get their shots but they're going to be the sure bet guys like the Joey Logano's and so on. They're the ones that are going to get the opportunity. Experience means a lot especially in the sport today with everything that's going on and testing policies and everything."
JIMMIE (JOHNSON) WAS IN HERE JUST A SECOND AGO AND WAS TALKING ABOUT YOU AND HOW HE ADMIRED YOU BEFORE HE GOT INTO NASCAR AND NOW ADMIRES YOU EVEN MORE AFTER BEING A TEAMMATE, CAN YOU PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE WHAT JIMMIE'S DONE OVER THE LAST THREE OR FOUR YEARS? "Wow. You know I thought Cale Yarborough was the man, so incredibly determined and everything else. Usually when you're in the middle of it you don't see as well as when you get out and away from it but even in the middle of it you can see what an incredible, shining, bright, hot star Jimmie Johnson is -- incredible talent."
DESCRIBE FOR US HOW QUICKLY DISASTER CAN HAPPEN IN THIS RACE AND WHAT THE FRUSTRATION IS LIKE WHEN THAT HAPPENS. "This race is a little bit like Talladega as far as something happening in front of you and you can see it clearly and you know what's going to happen but you can't change directions that fast or you can't change the outcome. So you see it coming and it can be very frustrating especially when you have no participation in the accident that happens. You see it and you see it coming and you still aren't able to avoid it and if it happens repeatedly then it really gets frustrating. Of course the heat is really building up right now for everyone especially from sixth to 16th or whatever. So I would expect someone to experience that frustration tomorrow night."
SINCE THE TRACK WAS REDONE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO AND YOU CAN DO TWO-WIDE RACING HERE, HOW HAS THAT CHANGED THE LEVEL OF AGGRESSION OUT ON THE TRACK? "It's allowed you to race instead of having to knock somebody and it's brought honor and respect back into the game where it was difficult to live by those principles at the later part of the last few years before it was redone. Now you can do your racing in a more honorable and respectful way. Also, with the way the corners are laid out, you don't want to really have a lot of contact because you can lose control yourself. The laws of physics get you worse now than they did before. So if you're underneath somebody and you bump them with your right front you might spin out. Whereas before you weren't nearly as likely. With self-preservation in mind it also tempers a little bit of the beating and banging."
-credit: gm racing