Daytona 500: Martin - Media Day visit

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES DAYTONA MEDIA DAY DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY February 5, 2009 MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS, met with members of the media at Pre-Daytona media day and discussed anticipation about full-season with...

February 5, 2009

MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST Impala SS, met with members of the media at Pre-Daytona media day and discussed anticipation about full-season with Hendrick Motorsports, the 2007 Daytona 500 finish, Joey Logano, older drivers and other topics.

COMING IN TO DAYTONA THIS YEAR, DO YOU THINK ABOUT HOW CLOSE THE FINISH WAS IN 2007? "It doesn't until you force it in there -- you just shove it right back in there. I try not to think about 2007 that much. Probably just as much as I try not to think about some other year when things even went worse than that. To answer your question, does it cross my mind coming into Daytona this year? I'm going to be driving a Hendrick Motorsports car and working with the brightest crew chief. I had no idea how incredibly bright Alan Gustafson was until I had a chance to go testing with him a few times -- absolutely undiscovered by the media. He has not been discovered yet -- he has not been discovered and do yes it does cross my mind every once and a while, but I try to keep that at bay because really that -- to me it is silly for me to think about that. What's smart is to think about how do I make the most out of this opportunity? How do we get our car good? What are the things that I can do to make the most out of it instead of getting all giddy about this might be the best car I ever had at Daytona."

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO ON THE TRACK IF THE CHAMPIONSHIP WERE ON THE LINE? "Are you saying would I turn a guy to win a championship? Is that what you're asking me? I haven't seen Jimmie (Johnson) knock anybody out of the way to win races. I don't feel like changing who I am is necessary to get the job done. I don't feel like it's necessary. I've done what I've done in the past and I will do what I do in the future based off of split second decisions so I really can't tell you. Do I understand that I only have so many more opportunities? Yes, I do, but every decision I make will be made split second and all those things might weigh into my psyche, but at the end of the day I really can't tell you.

"I can tell you that I have had a couple of wins where accidents were a part of -- like the Busch race at Bristol with Davey Allison where Davey was passing me for the win and moved up before he got clear of me and he wrecked and I won the race. That race didn't mean anything to me because that's not how I wanted to win the race. I didn't feel good about that. So many of the others I can be proud of and feel good about. It's how I feel when I lay down at the end of the day that matters the most -- its how I feel about it. I can tell you that I want to win really, really bad. I can't tell you what I'm going to do. I won't be able to answer that question until it's over with."

IS THE UNFINISHED BUSINESS OF WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP THE REASON YOU CAME BACK FOR ANOTHER FULL-TIME SEASON? "No, that was not what drove me to take this. What drove me to take this was Rick Hendrick, Hendrick Motorsports, Jeff (Gordon), Jimmie (Johnson) and Dale Barnhart Jr. as supportive teammates, Alan Gustafson, an opportunity to drive a blazing-fast race car that could win a race. That's why I did it. All this other stuff we'll see about -- we'll see about that. You have to climb some hills before you can stand at the top of the mountain. I got hills to climb this year before we talk about standing on top of the mountain. You have to understand that in 2009 we have plenty of hills to climb before we can even discuss all that. Obviously it would be incredible -- it would be incredible if we could just make the 'Chase' because then we have a chance. We have to make the 'Chase' first. We're starting a little bit behind as a race team. We haven't had an opportunity to work together before. We didn't work together last year. We're not in the Shootout, which puts us at a major -- I feel really left out because there are 28 cars -- more than ever and this is the first time in 20 years that I haven't been in that race and we won't even hit the race track in race trim until Wednesday. They all hit it tomorrow so we have a lot more important things to be worried about than trying to worry about whether or not we can win that Cup."

QUESTION INAUDIBLE "He's (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) as big of a super star as there has ever been in NASCAR from that stand point. Do I think I have my work cut out for me? I don't want to get embarrassed. I really want to be able and I want them to be able to say -- would love for them to be able to say that I brought something to the table. That's my challenge. I'm going to have to find a way to be able to bring something to the table for these guys. They're some of the greatest there's ever been."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU ARE CARRYING THE BANNER FOR "OLDER" DRIVERS? "I do feel like I'm carrying that banner right now. I think that's part of the appeal to some of the race fans is that they want to see -- some of them are aging themselves and they love the idea of being able to still hold their own against a 25-year old. Whether it be playing softball or whatever it is -- let's face it, there's a huge difference physically and we've all experienced that. There's some great advantages, but when it comes to playing a game of softball, but after not doing that for a while and you go out and you play a little game and you wake up the next day and you can't hardly move. You say, 'wow, things have really changed because back in the day I could do that and never even feel it.' Things have changed and we are the contrast to all that and hopefully I can bring a little balance. There was a lot of emphasis put on young drivers, which I was the one out here talking about it first and everybody thought there was something wrong with me and then a few years later it caught on and now I hope to bring a little balance to that. I hope it gives some fans a reason to cheer that way because the young ones can go and identify from this way and that just brings a lot of balance.

"A lot of people don't know a lot of things and even I don't know everything about everybody in the sport and their history and where they came from and what they did. In 1981 I was doing things that most 22-year olds hadn't done in NASCAR."

ARE THINGS HARDER OR EASIER NOW? "They were real different, but I don't know that they were harder back then than they are now. I was a kid then as well and some of the guys -- the hardened crew chiefs like Jake Elder said that I was too little to drive these cars. I didn't believe it then and I don't believe it now. I ran third at Martinsville with no power steering and with single piston short track brakes -- without all the good stuff that everybody had. It was actually before power steering and I was 130 pounds back then and didn't even lift weights. I wasn't on any kind of physical fitness program at that time. My point is that if the cars were ill-handling we made them work as good as we could. We made the steering work as good as we could. We had negative caster in the left-front so they would turn left by themselves easier. We did a lot of things. Now what we do because we have power steering is we've put all this positive caster in the left-front and you can't steer that car a lick without power steering. The competition is fierce today -- much more fierce than it was back then. A 500-mile race you would ride for 400 miles and race the last 100 and now you race that first lap of the 500-miler is as intense as any lap. There's differences -- it's way different, but I certainly wouldn't say that you couldn't do it then and I wouldn't say that I wouldn't have done it."

WHAT KIND OF ADVICE HAVE YOU GIVEN JOEY LOGANO? "He's (Joey Logano) gotten a lot of advice from me already and I'm very proud of him. My biggest concern for him was -- I'm certain that he will be a Cup champion so my biggest concern was for him to stay humble because when you're as good as he is it's not always easy. He appears to be hanging on to that fairly well. I was very proud of him in his recent interviews. He appeared to be humble and that's not always easy.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO JOEY AT IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY IN THE RECENT RACE? "I don't get involved in judging NASCAR's -- the move he (Joey Logano) made appeared to be called for and just based on what had happened to him five laps earlier, if that's what you're asking and you want my opinion."

QUESTION INAUDIBLE "It sure is going to be in that No. 5 car. I had the time of my life last year driving with Tony Gibson in the No. 8 car. It was so much fun and I've been so happy and I've been excited since June to be getting in this 5 car and I can't wait any longer. I may have had an excitement breakdown if I had to wait any longer. It's built more and more and more in the last couple weeks -- the last three weeks I have just been really stir crazy and ready to go.

"That's one of the great things about it is that it doesn't feel like work -- it feels like a real privilege."

IS DAYTONA TESTING AN ADVANTAGE FOR TEAMS YOU WON'T HAVE THIS YEAR? "It's always been an advantage and I've recognized it in the Shootout, but not nearly as much as when you have three days of testing and you're with an existing team. This is a new team for me to work with and they are incredible, but we do have to figure each other out and an hour and 45 minutes is not a lot of time to do that."

DOES IT BOTHER YOU THAT THE EXPECTATIONS ARE SO HIGH? "The first thing that pops in my mind is to look the other way. I've done a lot of looking the other way in my career -- a lot. I've read a lot the last month and expectations are very high and I'm talking about from you guys (media). Falling short of that because the line is so high, it would be easy for that to happen. I love this sport -- this is my whole life. This is what I think about all the time. I check Jayski at least once an hour everyday and I check that and all the links to every story. This is it -- that's why for me to go sit on the couch for the rest of my life is not really -- I thought that's what I wanted to do. I was pretty happy there for a month or two -- all of 2007 I was fine, but in 2008 I was having more fun at the races than ever before, even more fun than 2007. It came more and more clear to me. I understand that expectations are high, they're very high for Mr. Hendrick and they're very high for my three teammates and they're very high from Alan (Gustafson) and my team and so if you're asking me how I manage all that internally I'm going to tell you that I'm just going to look over here instead of look at that because I'm obsessive and compulsive and I don't need to be obsessing and compulsing over whether or not I'm going to be able to meet their expectations. If I drive as well as I drove last year and they give me the kind of race cars that I had part of the time last year, which were really incredible part of the time last year and they give me those kind of race cars -- the kind of race cars that Alan (Gustafson) and that group are capable of producing then bad luck or not I should be able to hopefully meet those expectations. I can say that for me mentally and physically I have never put so much into the preparation. I know I'm not 25 -- I know where I'm at and I know for a fact that probably no one I'm racing against in 2009 have taken the time and had the time because I had a limited schedule and I didn't even run Homestead -- we did all our promotional stuff for Kellogg's and Car Quest back in October so I have really been caught up and I have worked. Just like checking Jayski every hour -- I have put hours and hours into my physical and mental and nutritional program to prepare myself because I don't have to worry about little things when it comes to the race car. I've never been around anyone that was thinking as much and as prepared as Alan (Gustafson) has been. That's let me put a lot more time. I've learned a tremendous amount of stuff from nutrition and about nutrition. I learned some more about physical fitness and I've expanded my horizons in that area -- I'm doing more. I'm not taking anything away from what I was doing, but I've added a lot more. Yesterday for example I spend from seven till 12 AM -- it was not all working out. The weights and the cardio took an hour and a half, but after that, from 9:30 to 10:30 I did something else and then did something else. I'm doing other things than just the weights like I did for a long time."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Joey Logano , Davey Allison
Teams Hendrick Motorsports