Fontana II: Martin - Ford Friday interview

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, finds himself in 10th-place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings going into Sunday's race. Martin is 90 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne, and only 21 points behind sixth-place...

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, finds himself in 10th-place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings going into Sunday's race. Martin is 90 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne, and only 21 points behind sixth-place Denny Hamlin. Martin spoke about his position prior to Friday's practice at California Speedway.

MARK MARTIN - No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion

TWO TO GO. HOW WOULD YOU SUMMARIZE THE ATTITUDE OF YOUR TEAM IN REGARDS TO YOUR CHANCES OF MAKING THE CHASE? "Our car is really good. It shouldn't be any problem if we don't have anymore trouble, but it's real close. We went from fourth to tenth last week and if we don't have any trouble this week, we should be better than tenth when it's over with."

HOW MUCH PRESSURE IS THERE NOW ON YOU AND THE OTHER GUYS TRYING TO MAKE IT? "There's a lot of pressure. There always is, but the thing is that a lot of people are just now waking up to it. The pressure has been here since the Daytona 500. If you scored more points in the Daytona 500, you wouldn't be sweating here, so I've been racing to make the chase all year since Daytona."

ANY WORRY THAT PRESSURE MIGHT LEAD TO MISTAKES BY SOME DRIVERS THE NEXT TWO WEEKS? "Mistakes are made, sometimes when the pressure is on it's more likely and sometimes it's not depending on the people. There's a lot of racing and a lot of things can happen and a lot of mistakes could be made, but a lot of them can be overcome. It's all gonna come down to who scores the most points."

HOW WOULD YOU LOOK AT THIS YEAR IF YOU DON'T QUALIFY FOR THE CHASE? "We've missed opportunties to score a lot of points that we haven't scored. If we make the chase, that won't matter, and if we do, that will."

YOU ONCE SAID MAKING THE CHASE WAS THE HARDEST THING YOU'VE EVER DONE. IS THIS YEAR EVEN HARDER THAN BEFORE? "The thing that makes this year harder is we've been so good. We could have been really good, but we had a lot of things that set us back and held us back. If we had done everything that we could possibly do and we didn't make the chase, then so be it. But we have been right on the verge of the best year of my career, we just haven't quite closed that out. We still have time to do it. We're in good shape on the chase. There's a lot of pressure. It would be nice if we had 190 points instead of 90 points, but we're in good shape. We're gonna run really good here and we're gonna run good at Richmond. There's no reason why we should run into problems, except for things that we can't control."

IS THAT WHY JACK DOESN'T WANT TO LET YOU GO? HE FEELS GUILTY HE HASN'T GIVEN YOU A TITLE. "I think another thing is that by letting me go, Jack has to admit that we're not 25 anymore. You know what I mean? I think Jack wants to hang on to what we have because we had it for so long and that holding onto it means that we're not getting old. That might be part of it too. I don't know. Jack's a great guy. He's a friend for life and it means a lot for him to be in here fighting to keep me in rather than pushing me out."

HE SAID THAT HE THOUGHT YOU WERE IN THE BEST SHAPE OF YOUR LIFE AND HE'S NOT WILLING TO GIVE UP ON A FUTURE WITH YOU? "We'll just have to wait and see. We don't have to get all dramatic here. We've got a chase to make and then we've got a championship to run for, so let's not get too caught up in what comes down the road past that. The things that are in front of us are what really are important."

IT WOULD MEAN EVERYTHING TO JACK FOR YOU TO HAVE ANOTHER SHOT AT THIS TITLE. "It would mean a lot to all of us. Everybody has really worked hard for it and there have been times this year when I've had the time of my life behind the wheel of this 6 car. It's been awesome."

HOW AWARE WILL YOU BE OF THE OTHER GUYS IN THE CHASE DURING THE RACE? "No more than usual. I've been racing for points since I was 15 years old. This is nothing new. I learned a long time ago that you start scoring points the first race and not the last race."

IS TOO MUCH MADE OF TRYING TO MAKE THE CHASE? "Check me if I don't make it. Right now it would be easy for me to say that there's too much made of it, but it's everything. It's everything to me, but I guess if something happens and we don't make it, then that's that. I'm pretty sure that I'll wake up Sunday morning after Richmond and still be alive, but I don't want to chance it. I don't want to face that. I'd rather wake up Sunday morning and realize that we've got a shot at a championship rather than something else, so it's a big deal - it is to anyone that is so competitive and I don't think anybody has been very successful in this business that doesn't have that kind of drive and fire to compete. So I think it is that big of a deal."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kasey Kahne , Denny Hamlin , Mark Martin