Bristol: Pole winner interview

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S / CARQUEST IMPALA SS -- POLE WINNER: OUTSTANDING TO GET BACK TO BACK POLES, LAST WEEK IN ATLANTA AND TODAY AT BRISTOL "It really feels good. The car felt so good today and the team is just learning. It's such a ...

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S / CARQUEST IMPALA SS -- POLE WINNER:

OUTSTANDING TO GET BACK TO BACK POLES, LAST WEEK IN ATLANTA AND TODAY AT BRISTOL

"It really feels good. The car felt so good today and the team is just learning. It's such a pleasure to drive that car. They're hitting the race track with great, great set-ups based on learning about what I like in the race car and everything. And it's no secret that we have not had the best of luck this year. And it's really nice to come back this week and display speed once again. We've got speed and the other part is going to turn around sooner or later, the luck part. But it's nice. We've got a great race team."

WHEN EVERYTHING IS GOING WELL, YOU WANT TO RACE ALL THE TIME. WITH A TOUGH START TO THE SEASON, DID THE WEEK OFF MAKE IT WORSE? DOES WINNING THIS POLE HELP?

"It does lift it a lot. The break that I had was two-sided. As soon as we have one good finish, we're going to start feeling better. But we've been a little bit nauseous. So if we would have raced last weekend, that was always that chance to turn the luck around. We don't have to turn other things around. Our stuff is rolling. This is a great race team. Eventually it'll come around. But the other side was that physically, I think for me, physically and mentally it was very, very good. I went to the shop on Tuesday after Atlanta and I went and saw those guys. And between that Tuesday and today seemed like a month. But it was a good month. I spent the time with Arlene and the family and didn't do anything or go anywhere. And for me, somehow or another, it eventually cleansed my disappointment and I came up here today with optimism. We're going to keep pounding until we get some great, great results. This is fun."

TALK ABOUT HOW GOOD YOUR CAR CAN BE ON RACE DAY AND COULD IT FAVOR YOU BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO DRIVE CLEANER THAN YOU USED TO BEFORE IT WAS RESURFACED?

"It's way too early to make any kind of predictions. I look forward to tomorrow and running in race trim and comparing our times and our car to the competition. What I do like about the configuration of the race track is that there are much fewer wrecks than in the old configuration. But it's still a great challenging and very frustrating for the drivers. It's still really hard to pass. The technique for passing is different than the old track. But it's a challenge. So, these things are really hard to win. I look forward to it being our turn. We've got to continue to put the work in and the effort in and wait until things turn in our favor."

ON A RECENT HEADLINE THAT YOU WANTED TO COME BACK NEXT YEAR AND HAVE A FULL SEASON WHERE YOU START OFF BETTER THAN YOU DID THIS YEAR?

"That's way to premature. Sometimes when you dig for a scoop, really, really hard, you come up with something that just isn't ready yet."

IS THE HEADLINE INACCURATE?

"I'm not going to say that. It just isn't ready yet and that wasn't ready yet. There were a lot of words that went into that and I thought I painted a pretty clear picture."

WERE YOU MISQUOTED?

"I'm not saying that either. I'm just saying that most of the time when I deal with you guys, if I say one or two words that are out there a little bit, but I paint a very clear picture, you write the very clear picture. And I don't feel like that particular headline that you're talking about paints a completely clear picture. I'm not saying I didn't say it. I didn't mean that to be what it is. But I will tell you what I did say. I did say that I love what I'm doing and I'm not ready to quit. I did say that. I could be anywhere in the world today on a beach. Anywhere. This is where I want to be. I'm very happy to be here. I'm really happy to be driving the No. 5 car. I have not talked to one human being about 2010, not one person, about 2010 or any plans about that. Because I've had a horrible run of luck, that has not changed how I feel about what I'm doing. It doesn't make me want to quit and it doesn't make me want to drive worse. I'm the same as I was before I had the run of bad luck. You guys were the ones that said I wanted to win a championship. I told y'all that I wanted to drive a race car that could win a race. And I'm doing that. I'm very proud to say that I believe this race team, if all the stars line up, and I've sat on two poles and I'm really, really grateful for all those things. And I'm not in any shape ready to talk about 2010 and haven't discussed it with any person in my family or in my business circles. The word had not been uttered. I hope that's fairly clear."

WHEN YOU'RE AT A TRACK AND HAVE BAD LUCK, ARE YOU SUPERSTITIOUS?

"Well, this particular hat I'm wearing is the same hat that I wore at the other races. I had another one at Atlanta on Sunday, I think. That was the one I was wearing today and this is my favorite hat and I wanted this hat back. And when I put it on, (PR Rep) Kendra mentioned to me that maybe that's the bad luck. It really made me want to not wear it. But it's my favorite hat. And so, how I feel about lucky charms is I don't know about good lucky charms. But bad lucky charms, I don't want a four-leaf clover, I can tell that. I know you've heard this story. In 1989 or '90 or whenever it was, somebody at North Wilkesboro gave me four-leaf clover before the race and I got totaled before the green flag came out. It was one of those brake-check starts, and I got hit in the back so bad that we were ruined. We rode around but we were destroyed and the flag wasn't out yet. So I haven't ever been too big on lucky charms and I believe it will all come out in the wash.

"Unfortunately we've had three right out of the gate. But like I said, we would feel a lot worse if we were running 25th when all that stuff had happened. We're rolling and I'm very proud of that. I don't want to judge my season or what I'm doing based on the black and white result. I going to judge it on whether I'm making a contribution to Hendrick Motorsports and to my teammates and sponsors and my race team.

"And by the way, I kind of dig it that the fans have hollered a few times when I've had a good qualifying lap or led a lap or something. I think that's all pretty cool. Now results don't look very good. But if you look deeper, it has been a success even though it stinks, you know."

YOU DON'T STRIKE ME AS A BEACH GUY

"That's why I'm here (laughter). This beats any beach in the world."

IT HAD BEEN SEVEN YEARS SINCE YOU'D WON A POLE AND NOW YOU'VE WON TWO IN A ROW. IT WAS 20 YEARS SINCE YOU WON BACK-TO-BACK. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT?

"Well, it's the No. 5 car. It really is starting to really showcase our engineer, Alan Gustafson and the people that back him up. He has some great backing on this stuff. We're figuring out, and every race is not going to be our best race, but we have definitely made progress. Alan and I were not very pleased with the way we ran in California, which we should have been because we were a 10th place car, but that's the worse we've been all year. Daytona was different, so that was our first real outing of the year. We have learned so much through each individual event, that I man, I feel good. We unloaded here, rolling. And we unloaded at Atlanta well, but this was even better. We still did our share of chasing some stuff around at Atlanta. That's a long-winded questions but it starts with Alan and his support."

ON THE SATURDAY NIGHT LEGENDS RACE, FOR YOU TO BE THE FASTEST GUY AT YOUR AGE TWO RACES IN A ROW, IS THAT ESPECIALLY GRATIFYING?

"It is especially gratifying and I have probably a keener interest in that race tomorrow night than a lot of guys. I'm sure everyone is interested. But I'm more interested. I raced with Rusty Wallace when we were teenagers. And I've known him and raced with him ever since, since 1977. I met him in 1976. So that's pretty cool. And also, I can really identify with the sentimental favorite that I get from a lot of fans and media because I understand that completely because to me, Junior Johnson is kind of that guy for me, here. And he's my sentimental favorite. Stick him up against Rusty at this stage of the game. It might be a little bit like stacking me up against Jimmie Johnson at this stage in the game, but you never know. He might surprise you. I'm working real hard to try to surprise some folks myself."

REGARDING BRISTOL, DID YOU HAVE A TIRE ISSUE OR SOMETHING HAPPEN ON THE CAR AND THEN THE TIRE WENT AWAY?

"No, I cut a tire. Now whether that tire was going down on the backstretch and then went flat going into Turn 1 is still debatable. But as I look back on it, we hadn't done an enormous amount of restarts with me back in the traffic. Like the one restart, I was in the front and drove away. The clean air was really important. I was a few cars back because I was like fourth, and there were lapped cars too.

"There were a couple of lapped cars that passed me. So I was driving the car really hard in dirty air and our car got better on the longer run and I think I was over-analyzing and over-judging the race car at the time and I think we just cut a tire all at once going into Turn 1. It's possible it could have been a slower leak down and that could have been part of the trouble I was having. But I really think it was just what I said, restarting a few cars back in dirty air and not doing that very many times during the race and not expecting it. I expected the car to be as fast as it was when I restarted on the front."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Jimmie Johnson , Junior Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports