Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, is coming off his first points win of the season after taking the checkered flag in last week's Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway. Martin, who tested here at Lowe's Motor Speedway last week, ...
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, is coming off his first points win of the season after taking the checkered flag in last week's Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway. Martin, who tested here at Lowe's Motor Speedway last week, spoke about track conditions and his hopes for the race after Friday's first practice.
MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus
YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE TRACK SURFACE NOW? "They've made a huge effort to try to make it better and it's a lot better than it was. It was in very poor shape when we came here to test. So far, so good. I really wish that we could go back before we ever touched it, but it is in good condition and, hopefully, we'll see. Hopefully, the drivers will be able to race without running over one another."
WHAT DID THE RUBBER DO AS FAR AS THE FEEL? "It's a whole lot faster. The track was incredibly loose when we were here the first day. We only tested one day. Biffle and Stewart were here the second day and I don't think the track was a whole lot better, but the Busch cars came later and they liked it. They said the track was good and they didn't know what we were talking about, so we didn't wreck a race car. We were fast in the test. The car seems fast now. The track seems in great condition. We'll see what happens."
IS IT HARD TO GET GRIP? "Right now it's not. Right now it's not hard to get a hold of. Right now it rolls the eyes back in your head it's so fast. I guess that's a good thing. That means there's a lot of grip there - way more than there was when the Cup cars tested."
COULD THE SHEAR SPEED MAKE FOR A CRAZY RACE LIKE MAY? "It could. I don't know. I can't predict what the race is gonna be like. I predicted the May race was gonna be like it was, but I can't predict this one just yet. It's too early to draw a hard line about it, but the shame is that it was great before it was touched. Now it is what it is, and now they're talking about repaving it and it won't be great repaved for a few years. The sad thing is that I don't think there's a driver in the garage that would say they wished it was repaved versus the way it was. It's a great place to race."
WHY DO YOU THINK HUMPY MESSED WITH A PLACE THAT EVERYBODY LIKED WHAT IT WAS? "He's looking for side-by-side racing, and there was some side-by-side racing but there was no Talladega racing. It was a great place to race. It was just fine. It was rough and everything else. Michael Waltrip and few of them - Kasey Kahne - did run high here, but, for the most part, people ran on the bottom. That's about all you're gonna see here under most conditions. They may change that if they change the banking, but anything with a heritage like this race track, I would have not messed with it. I would have saved my money."
PLACES LIKE HERE AND ATLANTA WHERE SPEEDS ARE SO FAST, IS A MILE AND A HALF TRACK JUST TOO SMALL? "Atlanta is wonderful to race at, but it's been 10 years since it was paved. And if they won't pave it for another 10 years, it'll continue to be great to race at. Now it is not wicked fast as it was. They don't obviously have to be incredibly fast. You're talking to an old-timer here. I say if the race is too boring, stay home. That's not what Humpy would say. I don't own this race track. I'm not the one trying to fill the seats. I understand everybody has a view on this thing."
IS THIS STILL A GOOD TRACK FOR YOU? "It is. We won the All-Star race here on it and it's better now than it was in the All-Star race. They've made improvements to it."
SO COULD THIS BE FOR YOU WHERE MAYBE YOU MAKE UP FOR TALLADEGA. MAYBE YOU RUN WELL AND SOMEBODY ELSE GETS CAUGHT UP IN SOME BAD LUCK. "To answer your question, if I miss the wreck and they don't, then yes. But we don't even know if this is gonna be a crashfest or not yet. It's hard to say. I give the race track a good possibility of being fine for us to race on by Saturday night. Obviously, tomorrow night's race we'll know. We'll know after watching tomorrow night's race what we're gonna deal with Saturday night."
WHAT WAS THE REACTION LIKE SUNDAY NIGHT WHEN YOU GOT HOME AND SAW MATT AND ARLENE? "It was pretty cool. They were here for the All-Star race and that was incredibly exciting. It wasn't as exciting obviously. Matt is pretty cool. He was like, 'Hey, you want to see what I'm working on up here? By the way, good race.' It wasn't like he was jumping up and down or balloons and everything. It was, 'Oh, by the way, good race.' Arlene is really happy because she knows how much effort goes in by how many people - not just me, but tons of people who are making sacrifices to get a little taste of that once in a while."