MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, met with members of media at Dover International Speedway and discussed the changes at the No. 88 team, the town hall meeting earlier in the week, the improvements to pit road and more. WHAT WAS...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, met with members of media at Dover International Speedway and discussed the changes at the No. 88 team, the town hall meeting earlier in the week, the improvements to pit road and more.
WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO THE CHANGES AT THE NO. 88 TEAM? "Well I think they're going to be fine. (Dale Earnhardt) Junior is in really great hands. Brian Whitesell and Lance McGrew are both really incredible people and Rex Stump is going to be over there with them as well. I look for things to turn around quickly."
HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU? "Well hopefully Junior starts getting the results that those guys deserve. I think that will be good for our whole shop. We may be able to feed of one another more once we get a little bit closer together. I really thought that Junior had things going his way in the All-Star race. I thought his car was as good as mine. They missed the balance a little bit and then over adjusted just a little bit. I don't know what happened in the (Coca-Cola) 600. It was just a really tough day. I know they are all looking forward to putting it behind them."
WHAT ARE LANCE MCGREW'S STRENGHTHS? "I worked with Lance one time and we won at Vegas. I really like Lance and had considered him a candidate for my crew chief possibly at another position other than Hendrick when I was looking at 2009. I really like working with him. He's a very capable crew chief and he's a very strong, take charge kind of guy. I like that."
WHEN YOU SAY TAKE CHARGE DO YOU MEAN WITH THE SET-UPS OR OTHER CREW GUYS? "I meant his personality. He's seems to take charge of situations pretty strongly and I think that's a really good thing. That will be good for Junior and I enjoyed that as well working with him. He's an incredibly knowledgeable guy. Don't forget he ran seventh with Brad (Keselowski) down in Darlington a few weeks ago."
KYLE BUSCH MADE THE COMMENT IT'S NEVER DALE JR. IT'S ALWAYS THE CREW CHIEF, CAN YOU RESPOND TO THAT? "If you're off on any of that the performance won't be what it needs to be. Dale Jr.'s situation has been building and building since late summer last year. You get to a certain point where in order for things to get better you have to make a change and it sort of puts everybody on edge. Everybody does more. I think Junior will do more because of this change and he'll be more tolerant of situations because it's a growing pain rather than something that has been festering and getting sore. I think that will be good for the whole team."
YOU MUST UNDERSTAND THE PRESSURE THAT DALE JR. AND TONY JR. WERE UNDER WHEN THEY CAME OVER TO THAT TEAM. "No one understands the pressure that they've been under including myself. I don't think I can even comprehend it. Dale Jr. is far and away got the strongest shoulders of any man in NASCAR. There's some good things that come from being the sport's most popular and most recognized driver but there's a lot of weight on his shoulders as well."
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE TOWN HALL MEETING THAT HAPPENED EARLIER THIS WEEK, WHAT DID YOU TAKE AWAY FROM THAT? "You know there was a lot of talk and a lot of discussion. It wasn't a whole lot different than some of the others that I've been involved in, in the past years. It doesn't seem like there's been very many of them recently. We were just hearing out thoughts and ideas and feelings. I think it was a good thing. I felt like Brian France started the meeting by putting a little bit of calm on the anxiety and then directing focus to certain areas where we could try to give our sponsors and our fans a better show. A better value for our sponsors and a better show and better value for our fans as well."
WAS THERE ONE THING IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU WENT IN THERE HOPING TO GET SOME CLARIFICATION ON OR WAS THERE SOMETHING THAT WAS DISCUSSED THAT YOU CAME OUT SAYING I'M GLAD I KNOW MORE ABOUT THAT NOW? "Not really. Obviously we discussed the drug policy a little bit which was fine until the (Jeremy) Mayfield thing came up and that kind of sent a ripple effect of anxiety through the driver's garage area. I feel more like I felt after our meeting in February at Daytona which is if you're not abusing drugs, you're okay."
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT DOVER? "It's a really great race track. It is the best concrete race track that we race on. It is fairly smooth for concrete and it drives very well. It gives a second groove built into it which is unusual for concrete. I love coming here. It's one of my favorite race tracks."
HAVE YOU SEEN THE NEW SAFER BARRIERS ON PIT ROAD? "I haven't seen them yet. I'll see them when I go out for practice. Obviously it's great. It's a great, great improvement. I've seen pictures and I just hope nobody hits the end of pit wall down there. Which it was always there it's just a little further around. I think it's great. It was an improvement that really needed to be made here."
HOW HARD WILL IT BE FOR DALE JR. AND HIS NEW CREW CHIEF TO COMMUNICATE? "I don't think it's hard. You know where Junior and Tony Jr. were, their communication was suffering because of frustration and now it's all new and Junior will have a new attitude because he won't feel that same kind of frustration. I think it will be good right from the start. Obviously they will get better as they race along and they learn what really works for Junior. That's what happened with Alan (Gustafson) and my team. We've gotten better with each race but we came out of the gate pretty good too. Junior is one hell of a race car driver and as soon as he straps into something that feels right then he's going to go to the front."
AS SOMEBODY WHO HAS BEEN THROUGH CREW CHIEF CHANGES, IS IT AN ITIMIDATING THING FOR THE NEW GUY COMING IN GIVEN THAT EVERYBODY IS LOOKING AT HIM TO TURN IT AROUND, WHAT IS THAT ATMOSPHERE LIKE? "Are you referring to Lance? When you're coupled with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. you've got a lot of pressure on you. A lot more I mean than most anyone in NASCAR. Lance is a strong fellow. He's got good strong shoulders. He's been involved at Hendrick Motorsports for a long time. He understands the processes and the program. He's got Brian (Whitesell) who is going to be sitting right next to him that is the architect for the No. 88 and the No. 5. I mean make no mistake this is a super team. Having Dale Jr. drive that race car completes the super team. He is one heck of a race car driver and as soon as he straps into something that feels right to him, he's going to the front."
SOMEBODY WHO JUST LEFT DEI LAST YEAR, WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE MARTIN TRUEX, JR.? "You know they have been really good in some races this year. They've got to keep their head down and keep working."
AS FAR AS HIS SITUATION AS BEING A FREE AGENT THOUGH? "Oh, I've been lucky. I don't know. I wish him luck. Better than being smart. You know I'm not smart, I've been lucky in everything I've done. Staying with Roush all those years was the right thing and got me a lot of success and a lot of wins. Going to Ginn was a great thing. Then I had a great stay at DEI and then I just accidentally stumbled into the No. 5 car which was the coolest thing in my career, so sometimes luck is better than wisdom."
-credit: gm racing