MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed pit road mishaps, his eating habits, fitness and more. WHY ARE THERE SO MANY PIT ROAD MISHAPS THIS YEAR, NOT ONLY MISSING ...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed pit road mishaps, his eating habits, fitness and more.
WHY ARE THERE SO MANY PIT ROAD MISHAPS THIS YEAR, NOT ONLY MISSING PIT STALLS, BUT ALSO DROPPING LUG NUTS AND THINGS LIKE THAT? "The missing pit stalls is because everybody is riding the speed limit dead-on. So if you are watching you speed, you can't be watching for your pit. And if you are watching for your pit, you can't be watching your speed, or for guys pulling out or coming in or whatever. Believe it or not, that is a really, really difficult little piece of your driving, that pit road thing. The nuts coming off I think are due to longer threads this year mandated by NASCAR. The teams are still getting their arms around how that is affecting the nuts being knocked off."
IS MISSING THE PIT STALLS MORE PREVALENT THIS YEAR THAN SAY LAST YEAR? "It is growing all the time because when they first came with a speed limit, everybody was not trying to get every single ounce out of that speed. The more, when one guy starts doing it, then everybody has to start doing it. Just like exercising, when one driver starts it, if you want to be on equal footing, you have to. Same thing on pit road. So, it has become more and more important to push your speed to the limit every year since the speed limit started."
DO YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE LOST ANY MOMENTUM WITH THE ALL STAR IN BETWEEN THIS RACE AND DARLINGTON? "You know momentum is cool but it can be broke by a dollar part or one little mistake. You like riding the wave but it's no big deal."
DO YOU EAT ANYTHING OR DO ANYTHING DIFFERENT TO KEEP YOUR ENERGY HIGH? "Yeah, I live every day like tomorrow is the biggest race of my life 365 days a year. If I could eat anything to help that race then I would be doing that every day. So really I don't believe you can eat a bowl of pasta and be any better prepared for a race then if you didn't. Fitness is a lifestyle. You have to live it. You can't drink a gallon of water, eat a bowl of pasta and go to bed early the night before the race and be prepared tomorrow. You have to get rest every night."
DO YOU EVER EAT ANYTHING DURING THE RACES? "Red flags. Yeah, I can barely make it to the end of the races. I'm a two and one half hour guy. I eat every two hours. So the first thing I do after the race is eat. At Darlington and Phoenix I ate from Victory Lane to the press room because I had to eat."
DO YOU HAVE SNACKS WITH YOU? "Red flags yes. The adrenaline carries me. I don't feel any energy crash. I just am hungry when I get out of the race car and realize when the adrenaline wears off that I'm very hungry. I don't have any problem with energy in the race car. All the rest of the time I do but in the race car is no problem."
DID YOU LIKE THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS WITH THE LEADERS UP FRONT IN THE ALL-STAR RACE AND WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE THAT IN REGULAR RACES? "I'd have to think about that. The beauty of that would be to get the lapped cars from messing up the lead-lap cars race. The drawback to that is if you're running second and you're at a race track where the bottom is the premium the guy in third is better off than the guy in second. There are disadvantages that way. I'd have to think about it some more. I have never been a fan of the lapped cars on the inside since 1981. It is something to think about."
MAYBE GIVE THE LEADER A CHOICE WHETHER TO START ON THE OUTSIDE OR THE INSIDE. "Yeah but you would need to do it all the way back. What about the guy that's running fifth. I race every spot not just first. You know what I'm saying. You can't just focus on first because you might be running ninth. You might need to restart on the outside. I'm not saying, I'm just saying I'm not prepared to answer it because I haven't thought about it enough. I told you the two things. I'm really not a fan of putting the lapped cars up there in the middle of the lead-lap cars. You're restarting 30th when you're running 15th and 15th isn't bad today. A lot of good guys are running 15th in these races and to restart 30th that's difficult."
HAS THERE EVER BEEN A TIME WHEN THE ADVANTAGE OF BEING THE LEADER AERODYNAMICALLY MATTERED THIS MUCH? "No. That has grown through time and it is more important now than ever. Everybody is the same speed probably. It's probably that. You can point at a lot of different things. The cars are more aero dependent. In 1990 you didn't have aero push. I don't know why. We didn't have it in '90 but I started feeling aero tight at Martinsville in the late '90s and people thought I was crazy. But I wasn't. You can feel it now and I could feel it then it was just a lot less then."
CAN I ASK WHAT YOU ATE WHEN YOU GOT OUT OF THE CAR? "I eat turkey on wheat with mustard. Turkey, wheat, mustard, that's my staple. I usually have fish and vegetables, something like that for lunch before the race. I get a lot of carbs. I eat a lot of carbs every day but I burn a lot. But I've never found that carb loading did anything but blow you up. I just think that fitness is a lifestyle. If you want to be ready you need to start getting ready a year before and you need to live it every day. That's my belief but I'm obsessive and compulsive."
YOU WEREN'T ALWAYS SO HEALTH CONSCIOUS, WHAT DROVE YOU TO BELIEVE THE WAY YOU DO NOW? "Well I made a pretty serious change in 1988 when I got my second chance with Jack Roush. I wanted to succeed. I'm obsessive and compulsive and it's a lot better to be that way about health and fitness than it is Twinkies and couch."
DO YOU FEEL BETTER NOW WHEN YOU START A RACE? "I feel better when I start it and I feel better when I finish it. And I feel better in my own race. It's not all about racing. It's my commitment to life, better quality of life."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE EVOLUTION OF THE DRIVER IN TERMS OF THE HEIGHT, WEIGHT AND SIZE OVER THE LAST 25 YEARS? "The old school crew chiefs one of them said in 1981 that I was too little to drive these cars. It was old school. A lot of things have changes. I wasn't but things came along like power steering although I ran third at Martinsville without power steering in 1981. A lot of things have changes. It still comes down to how much do you have to spend. I spend everything I have every race. So if I can get more fit I believe I will spend more. I believe that in my heart. If I get less fit then I have less to give. I believe that. So if I look tired after the race I should, I better. If I was driving as hard as I could I need to be tired. I believe you spend what you can. I don't know anything about the stats saying the drivers are lighter, shorter or whatever. Could be a coincidence, could not I don't know. I think you can be any size you want to be and do this deal but going into the future you're going to have to be fit. If you're 240 pounds you better be a rock. You better have the stamina. You probably need to be working on cardio and endurance, not strength training. If you way 125 you probably need to be focusing strongly on strength training. You work with what you have. I believe that."
YOU'RE 5'6", 130 POUNDS? "I'm probably 125. 5'6" is right. Yeah 130 is a conservative number. I fall under that unless I've got shoes and cell phone and stuff like that on."
THERE AREN'T AS MANY DRIVERS OVER SIX FOOT, HAVE YOU NOTICED? "I think that's a coincidence. I don't think height precludes being successful. I really don't."
YOUR TEAMMATE JEFF GORDON HAS A BACK ISSUE, YOU'VE HAD BACK ISSUES HAVE YOU TALKED TO JEFF ABOUT IT AND GIVEN HIM ANY ADVICE? "Well I talked to him about it. I haven't really given him any major advice. He's ahead of me on his problems. I have talked to him about it. His issue is a little different than mine."
YOURS WAS PRETTY BAD WASN'T IT? "Yeah, mine was pretty bad. I had surgery. I suffered a year and a half before then I finally got the surgery. I suffered less for the next five years but it's really the best it's ever been right now because of my physical conditioning."
-credit: gm racing