MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST AUTO PARTS/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed racing the Coca-Cola 600, Kyle Busch and other topics. TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK GOING IN TO THE COCA-COLA 600:...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST AUTO PARTS/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed racing the Coca-Cola 600, Kyle Busch and other topics.
TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK GOING IN TO THE COCA-COLA 600: "I really liked how the car performed Saturday night. I was really pleased and encouraged and would've liked to have that car to fun in the 600 but that wasn't the plan anyhow. These guys, Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the guys feel like they had their best setback for the 600. Have a beautiful paint job on the CARQUEST Chevy this weekend and like to see that thing go to the front."
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE PRESTIGE OF THE COKE 600? "Gosh, I don't know. I've said this before and I will say it again. You don't get to chose which races you win. If you are lucky, you just get to win some. So, I believe we have won it, but to me, I have always stayed focused on winning another one rather than what the one that we did in the past really meant. At some point, in my career, I'm sure I'll look back and remember that I won a couple of Southern 500s and the 600. Hopefully maybe a Brickyard and a Daytona 500 too. Right now at this time, I stay pretty much focused on how we are going to get the next one."
CONSIDERING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FREE PASS, THE WAVE-AROUND AND THE MULTIPLE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERED RULES OVER THE PAST YEAR OR SO, DO YOU STILL SEE THE 600 AS AN ENDURANCE RACE? "It is an endurance race, but it is quite different than it was in the '80s. In the 80s, you paced your equipment and you paced yourself, you paced everything. You don't pace yourself or your equipment anymore based on the evolution of the equipment, the teams and everything else. It is still and endurance race, actually, much easier to conquer with today's stuff, much more durable stuff. Back in the day, it was a challenge to make it run that long."
WHEN THE CHECKERED FLAG FALLS ON THE COCA-COLA 600, NASCAR'S REGULAR SEASON WILL BE HALF OVER, CAN YOU GRADE YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM ON YOUR FIRST HALF OF THE REGULAR SEASON? "I don't know if I really want to do that. The effort is an A+. That is only grade I'll give you and the only one I care to grade."
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ADJUSTMENTS IN THIS LONG RACE GOING FROM DAY TO NIGHT: "This race track is very very sensitive to temperature, to sunlight and everything else. You have to learn, one of the nice things about having the All Star race the week before at night, it gives you the opportunity to practice during the day and race at night and get a taste of what you are going to be dealing with. We do our practicing during the day, the race goes in to the night and you learn from experience really. Each time you run one of these races, you build that knowledge and it is a moving target because with the ever-changing cars, rules, setups, asphalt, tires and all the other things, competition, and everything else, all these things react and change a little bit differently into the night. You never can say 'it did this five years ago' because it is actually reacts some different now than it did say five years or ten years ago. It's a real team effort to make it competitive at the start and be a contender at the end."
WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH TO QUALIFYING HERE TONIGHT? "It is the same as qualifying anywhere else. It is very prestigious. It is usually one day further out than most of our qualifying. I don't notice it as much now, back in the day when we qualified on Wednesday I believe, it was extremely prestigious to sit on the pole here. It still is, but I'm more used to it. Pole day was really a big deal back years ago when it was on Wednesday night or Wednesday evening or whatever it was. I may be all confused, but I think it was back then."
OTHER DRIVERS TALK ABOUT LEARNING TO RACE OTHER PEOPLE BY WATCHING THE WAY YOU RACE OTHER DRIVERS, THAT BEING THE CASE, DOES IT SURPRISE YOU WHEN YOU SEE SOMETHING LIKE WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN DENNY AND KYLE? "That was a racing incident. That doesn't surprise me. I think that two guys racing really, really hard for the big prize, winner take all, I didn't see anything really to be honest with you. I think if I had been in either car, I would have done the same thing that either of them did to be honest with you. I think that was just all out racing...All Star racing."
KYLE (BUSCH) SAID HE HAS LEARNED A LOT FROM YOU, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ANY CONVERSATIONS YOU HAVE HAD WITH HIM AND DOES HE RESPECT PEOPLE ON THE TRACK A LITTLE BIT MORE THAN PEOPLE SEEM TO GIVE HIM CREDIT FOR? "I don't know who is giving him short credit. Certainly not me. I don't have an ounce of problem and never have on the race track with Kyle. He is very aggressive, but he keeps it within his area. He is aggressive, but he keeps his stuff in his area. He's never breached my space on the race track. I haven't had a lot of conversation with Kyle, but he is incredibly respectful although he may have done some things and had some actions that may have turned some people off. He has also done some things and had some actions that are incredibly admirable. One of the things that comes to mind is what he did for Sam Ard, who he couldn't know and that is just a good example and many many more. There is a lot more to these guys than what meets the eye. I think Kyle has learned some things from experience and from watching and racing with me as Tony (Stewart) has said he has and some of the other guys. It's not something I preach. I live by a code and that code works for me. It has actually worked well for some others as well. I was taught that code partially by people I raced with too. We went to Wisconsin and raced Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday afternoon with the same car. No backup cars and they only paid about $400 to win each night. You didn't need to bend a ball joint or a tie rod or a wheel or fix a wreck. You know? You didn't need to. There was enough maintenance to be done as it was. The guys I raced with, we had a code that we raced with and it worked well and we tore very little up and we put on great shows and great racing. It is a little different now, obviously, but I still try to live by the same code. I try to race people extremely hard, but with respect and the way I want to be raced."
GOODYEAR CAME HERE WITH AN EXTREMELY HARD TIRE, WOULD YOU LIKE A SOFTER TIRE THAT GAVE UP A LITTLE MORE? "I would but in defense of Goodyear, I don't think they really have a solution for that. I think a softer tire would blister and fail. We are not having tire failures. Kudos to Goodyear for that. Part of the problem we have is the composition of the asphalt. I am no chemist, but I can tell you it is different and it has different requirements for the tire. Goodyear, at this time, is doing the best that it can to make durable tires for it and you have what you have. If the asphalt was the same chemistry as the asphalt was laid 15 years ago, we would be back to soft tires and the tire would be wearing and giving up. But that would be because of the pavement and the way the pavement reacted to age. This pavement doesn't react to age the same way. Las Vegas, here, Darlington. I've been racing Darlington since 1981 was the first time I went there, was always the same and now this last batch is a different animal and will continue, it is not going to go back to the old Darlington any time soon."
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT ROUSH-FENWAY CONTINUES TO STRUGGLE? "They look like to me that they are running much better. I wouldn't consider struggling at this point in time by the performance they are getting on the race track. Their cars are pretty strong and it is just a matter of time when you run like they run to get a win. Then once they get one, if they can continue to perform on that level they'll get a few more. If they can up it another step, then they can get a bunch of them. Last year I was surprised, this year I am not surprised. They've stepped it up and are in the game."
-source: gm racing