Mark Martin, No. 01 U.S. Army Impala SS chats with media on his part-time schedule, racing in the Busch Series for Hendrick Motorsports, the Impala SS and other subjects: ON BEING BACK AT THE RACE TRACK THIS WEEKEND: "Thank you. It's good to ...
Mark Martin, No. 01 U.S. Army Impala SS chats with media on his part-time schedule, racing in the Busch Series for Hendrick Motorsports, the Impala SS and other subjects:
ON BEING BACK AT THE RACE TRACK THIS WEEKEND: "Thank you. It's good to be here. I'm certainly in a good mood today. I guess because I watched last week from the couch. I don't know. I'm glad to be back here with everybody. I feel really good. I'm all charged up and ready to go and definitely need to be with the next seven, eight weeks in front of us. It's going to be as intense as it's ever been with all the testing and all the racing and all the things that we've got going on."
IS IT UNFAIR THAT YOU MISSED TALLADEGA AND IT WAS A TAME RACE: "Well if you want the sarcasm in me, Arlene (his wife) and I talked before the race and we said they won't even have a wreck today because I'm not in it, so I was wrong. They did have some wrecks. It's been a little bit better since they've repaved which it should encourage worse, the worst in us for running over each other, the new pavement should. But it seems like the last two races have been a little bit cleaner than they were prior to repaving. Did I miss it? No. None."
WATCHING THE RACES FROM HOME, DOES ANYTHING STICK OUT THAT YOU HAVEN'T NOTICED BEFORE? "It's a totally different perspective, that's for sure. The coverage is really fabulous. I commend everyone especially when you network through the internet along with all the TV stuff, you can get an awful lot of information of what's going on. It still is different slightly than being immersed in it but the one thing that I have noticed is if you don't have all these things tugging on you all the time, you can actually know more about what's going on than when you're participating in it. When we participate in it, we don't have a chance to use all those resources. Actually I seem more informed when I'm away from it than when I am in the middle of it because when I'm in the middle of it I'm preoccupied."
ON HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT THE WRECKS LAST WEEKEND IN TALLADEGA AND NOT BEING INVOLVED: "The biggest thing was when I saw Kyle's wreck on Saturday. That's when I was really glad that I was at New Smyrna instead of Talladega. That was sure ugly. I blurted out more than one loud comment at the beginning of the race when it was four wide stacked. That was like insane at the beginning of the race on Sunday. For a long time it was just a wad of four stacked. It was just insane."
DID YOU TENSE UP WHEN YOU SAW IT WAS FOUR WIDE LAST WEEKEND? "No, I was really glad I wasn't in it. You know my view is tainted by being a competitor but I looked at that and that was not exciting to me. That was insane. When I have this in the back of mind when I look up racing in the encyclopedia, I don't see that snapshot from Talladega. I see the other kind of racing that we have always done. I just looked at that and was like this is insane and boy I'm glad I'm not out there in that and how long is this going to last. I kept thinking that it would string out and it really didn't for a long time. Finally toward the end they did a little bit but you know, it is what is. It's restrictor plate racing and all I've got to say about it is for the fans, I don't know if their hearts could stand it if there were more than four a year and from a competitor side of it, I'm sure that I could safely say I don't think they could stand more than four of those a year."
ON FANS THROWING THINGS ON THE TRACK: "I was disappointed and embarrassed with the fans throwing the stuff over the fence and then today when I saw a snapshot of it in the Scene, I thought I wonder if that would have happened at Daytona if they'd have thrown the yellow when they might of and how would I have felt about that. It's just a question. It's an interesting question."
ON TAKING THE IMPALA SS TO DARLINGTON NEXT WEEKEND: "Here we go to Car of Tomorrow next weekend. I'm faced with a real exciting weekend because I get to climb into that (No.) 5 Hendrick Busch car and I'm pretty excited about being back in a Busch car based on all the fun and history I've had and the thrill for me to get a chance to drive something that is owned by Rick Hendrick. And I've had the opportunity to stand and watch what Kyle has done in the 5 car this year which is headed up by their Cup guys, Alan (Gustafson) and those guys, so in a way I'm getting a chance to drive for another great, incredible Cup team with an owner and organization that if something were to happen and we were to win the race would be fairly historical as winning in the 21 truck could have been in California or could be if in the other five starts we do this year. That all being said, the Car of Tomorrow at Darlington is going to be interesting. Ryan (Pemberton) and the U.S. Army team have made great strides on the COT. Certainly we've had our work to do as a group at Ginn and then we were certainly disappointed with our results at Phoenix and hopefully we've made improvements for here and we'll continue to improve. As a group, we've got some work to do to get where we need to be with this COT."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT YOU DID LAST WEEKEND DURING TALLADEGA? HOW WELL ARE THINGS GOING RIGHT NOW? "Last weekend I went racing with (my son) Matt. First of all, the Fridays are the greatest because I can take Matt to lunch; he's in school but at least I can take him to lunch. I can spend some quality time with Arlene and they (Fridays) seem to be my favorite day of my weekends that I'm not racing with the U.S. Army team. Saturday I went racing with Ricky Carmichael and Matt Martin at New Smyrna - an 125-lap big Super Late Model series race. Ricky qualified fourth which was spectacular. Matt qualified 13th and finished seventh. Unfortunately Ricky's engine broke and I was broken-hearted. My heart broke as well because those 125 laps we desperately needed for Ricky's seat time and he was running so well. Broke early. On Sunday, I don't remember other than the race. I remember the race, the couch and the remote control. I got sleepy during the race so I hit pause on the TiVo and took a 20-minute nap and woke back up. From there on, every time a commercial came on I fast-forwarded and caught back up and finished watching the race. It was wonderful.
"As far as the part-time deal goes, I could go on and on about that but I'll share a couple of the emotions I feel. I'm sometimes embarrassed to talk too much about it, especially around my crew. I'm almost embarrassed I've got it so good. They're still at the race track every weekend. I have got such a good thing going right now; I keep thinking I'm going to wake up. This is certainly the happiest time of my life. I've spent a lot of my life doing a lot of things that I didn't want to do so that I could do the things that I did. Now, I just do what I want to. I don't do a lot of those other things. Those other things that I do now that might have been a task before are really a joy for me today and I think that just tells you where I'm at in my life. I still go testing. While that might not be the first thing that would pop into my mind that I want to go do today, or a certain personal appearance, I can't think of anything. I've done everything I've done this year - a lot of it I've complained about before in my past about having to do and I'm all been happy and excited to do those things this year. That's where I am right now. I knew that this was a tremendous opportunity, that Jay Frye and Bobby Ginn were giving me here. When we made the deal, did I know it was going to be this good? No. I didn't know. I really got the world by the tail right now. I'm making the most out of my life right now. You never know how much time you have left and I'm really making the most out of that time. I'm pretty sure Arlene is getting about sick of my good news and enthusiasm and exuberance. I think she's about sick of hearing 'Mr. Happy-Bubbly.' This is going to be the greatest summer of our lives and. that is it. Because it's going to be better than any one we've ever had before and we can't live 2009 yet so here we go! 2008, this is it! That's really where I'm at today."
AT NEW SMYRNA DID YOU RACE OR WERE YOU JUST A SPECTATOR? "I was just a spectator. A very happy spectator. I was working on the cars too. I'm not mechanical. I was doing tires and consulting on chassis things. I did Matt's tires and air and those kinds of things. Kept my head in the game with Ricky. I wasn't driving. The summer of 2008 is going to be the best ever for my family and I."
SO THEY DON'T LET YOU HAVE A WRENCH WHEN YOU GO TO NEW SMYRNA? "I can have one if I want but lucky for us, we weren't doing a whole lot of wrenching. The tire thing on a Late Model is a pretty important issue and I kind of took that over. I was real nervous. A lot more nervous than I was at Lake City."
AT THIS STAGE IN YOUR LIFE, WHAT'S BETTER - RACING UP FRONT OR THE TIME OFF? "That's a tie. It's really, really awesome to drive and contend because if I was driving and not contending I'd be working my way out of the driver's seat. I'd be making my plans on how to get out of the driver's seat. As of today, that's the only reason I race. I hope the day doesn't come that I race because I want to be around all of you guys and my friends in the garage area and all that. I hope that's doesn't ever become the reason that I race. The reason I race is to contend and we're doing it. It feels really exciting because every day I go to the race track and I see the faces of the guys on my team. They're excited and if I want to win a race, I want it more.I've won a pile. I want it more for them than I want it for me and I want to share that with them at Victory Lane and share the enthusiasm. That's the truth. They're really what make this so much fun for me right now."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT RICKY CARMICHAEL'S PROGRESS IN LATE-MODELS AND HOW DOES MATT FEEL ABOUT HAVING ONE OF HIS HEROS AS A TEAMMATE? "He's definitely excited about having one of his heroes right there up close and personal and Ricky is such a nice guy and likes Matt, relates to Matt a lot. Ricky's progress has been phenomenal. He's only run three races and he wrecked out of the first one and he broke his engine in the third one. And he's still racing that motorcycle. We just sit down and tried to put together a schedule and he's not going to race in the whole month of May. I'm not one for making predictions but he can and will do this without question."
DOES YOUR WIFE THINK 'WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MARK MARTIN'? YOUR LIFE IS A LOT DIFFERENT NOW. "You'd have to ask her but I'm pretty sure she's liking it. I'm liking it. It wouldn't be good for me to be easing back if we weren't meshing or weren't as compatible as we are. Our time, our relationship, our bonding has been better and stronger and everything. It's been better this year than ever before. I've spent more time with here as best friends. By the way, the 'it's time to go to Talladega' (you mentioned), it wasn't we. (It was) 'you're going, I'm not going'. That's more of what it's been the last 10 years rather than the first 10 years (when) we went together. It's pretty good. I think you can relate. I've been around people that I was.'that guy makes me sick'. It was always so happy and everything was so good. 'he's always so full of cheer'. It ain't that good. I think she's just sitting there shaking her head saying 'it ain't that good'. She asked me the other day, when I told her this was going to be the greatest summer of our lives she said 'why'. I was like, 'shut up, because' (laughs). I don't know why. I didn't make a list. I don't have a schedule laid out. It's just going to be great. My attitude is really good. I'm really happy."
IS THERE ONE VOICE DURING THE DRIVER RACE MEETINGS AND IF SO, WHO? "Are you talking about Mike Helton? That one voice is Mike Helton."
AMONGST THE DRIVERS? "You mean, would one person speak for the drivers? The first person that comes to my mind is Jeff Burton. He's the. I've got to watch what I say here but I almost said he's the smartest of all of us. Because in my heart, you know, shallowly, I'm thinking really deeply about it, Jeff is just such a solid person and so well grounded. He would be the one I would first thing of to be our voice. Rusty Wallace was one at one time. Certainly Dale Earnhardt was one in his time. If I was going to elect someone to speak for us as a group, right now, this minute, Jeff Burton would be the one I thought of."
-credit: gm racing