FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES BUD SHOOTOUT February 7, 1999 Daytona International Speedway MARK MARTIN POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE Mark Martin's victory marked the second straight season a Ford has reached...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES BUD SHOOTOUT February 7, 1999 Daytona International Speedway
MARK MARTIN POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
Mark Martin's victory marked the second straight season a Ford has reached victory lane in the Bud Shootout and the third time in the last four years. Rusty Wallace captured the event in 1998 while Dale Jarrett did the honors in 1996. Martin's victory is the first time he has made it to victory lane at Daytona International Speedway in a NASCAR Winston Cup car. He has been part of four winning teams in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, but this marks the first time in 53 races as a Winston Cup driver (including 12 Bud Shootouts, 14 Gatorade Twin 125s, 14 Daytona 500s and 13 Pepsi 400s) in which Martin has taken the checkered flag at DIS.
IS THIS THE START OF A NEW ERA AT DAYTONA? "I don't know, but I sure feel good for Jack Roush. He's built a lot of his reputation on being the King of Horsepower and we haven't been able to give him a very good showing at Daytona. Of course, we've won twice at Talladega, but they sure have made a lot of gains from a year ago in that area and they sure have built me a lot nicer Taurus than they gave me to work with last year in this race. This race to me, Daytona and Talladega, is 95 percent car and, therefore, I'm so proud to stand up and say, 'Look at what my team has done.'"
YOU LIVE IN DAYTONA BEACH, WAS IT DOUBLY HARD TO DRIVE BY ALL THE TIME AND WANTING TO WIN HERE? "I would really like to win at this place, but I feel that same way everytime I go by any race track that we currently race on. I haven't lost any sleep over the fact that I haven't won at Daytona before and now I certainly won't. I hope that we win a Daytona 500 this year, but I believe if you do the work and you give your very best effort, then you need to accept the results, whatever they are, because there's not much else you can do. So I keep the focus on the effort instead of how the result turns out. I try not to get too overwhelmed if things go well and try not to get too eaten up if things don't go as they should."
AFTER YOU TOOK THE LEAD WHEN DID YOU KNOW THE CAR WAS STRONG ENOUGH TO STAY OUT FRONT? "Sometime after the exit of turn four for the checkered flag I was pretty sure we could do it. Prior to that, you never quite know. They were doing some racing behind me that helped matters an awful lot. The pit stop was crucial, although we made some fairly lucky moves throughout the pack to wind up where we were when we stopped for our pit stop, we came out obviously in the lead, which was crucial to the win. That's not something we would have done otherwise. We just had a fast enough car while we were in the front."
DOES THIS DO ANYTHING FOR YOU IN PREPARATION FOR THE 500? "I just wish that was the last lap of the Daytona 500 and then it would all be over with and all be done. It'd be in the can, so to speak. All that says is, I'll say again, look at what this team has done. Where we were a year ago with all our Roush teams and the move that we've made to move ahead. Jimmy Fennig is the only crew chief in the business for me and Jack Roush is the only owner in the business for me. How could I be so lucky to have gotten together with these guys? I'll never know because it's not like some folks would like to say, 'I was just so smart.' It was just fate. I've just been fortunate and blessed in my career to make decisions along the way that when I made them, I didn't know for sure why or what have you, but they've turned out to be the right ones. Jack Roush is a great owner and Jimmy Fennig is the best crew chief in the business for me. I have quite an opportunity."
HOW ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PIT STOP TODAY? "Well, that's a product of parity in restrictor plate racing. If you have a reasonably good car and you're in front, you're in good shape. If you have a great car and you're not in front, you better hope things really go your way to get there. The 500 will give you more time to work things over and to get there and handling will become more of a factor, but track position is crucial."
WHAT POSITION WERE YOU IN WHEN YOU WENT INTO THE PITS? "He said I was fifth, but I still think I was running third. I'm getting a little bit out there on my brain, I'm not really sure. I don't remember five cars, I remember two cars being in front of me when I pitted. I say third and maybe two of them passed me while I was trying to get on the end of pit road. Skinner passed me on the inside coming onto pit road, but I thought I was running third. You can't go off of my memory. There are certain things that I have what you would call total recall about and there are other things I'm not very good. I can tell you for sure I was leading on the last lap in that race, but I can't tell you for sure when I pitted."
IF YOU NEVER WIN THE DAYTONA 500 WILL YOU FEEL A VOID IN YOUR CAREER? "No. I'm sorry to disappoint you folks, but I have had a better career than any kid from Arkansas ever dreamed. I've had things happen to me that I can't believe and I just won't lose any sleep if it doesn't happen because I'll know that I tried as hard as I could every year and that I had race teams that tried as hard as they could every year. I can't control the final result, but I can control the effort that goes into it, and I've been blessed with people that work as hard as I do and want it as bad as I do. If it doesn't work out, well gee whiz, I have won a bunch of races anyway and I'm real thankful for that. It is the biggest race of the year. It is the grand prize, but nobody ever told me I was ever gonna win one much less the kind of success that I've had."
WITH A 500 MILE RACE SUNDAY, WILL THE BE MORE PASSING AND BETTER RACING? "There will be more cars, therefore there will be more passing and more excitement and more action. Yes."
DID JEFF GORDON HAVE THE BEST CAR AND COULD HE HAVE BEATEN YOU? "I don't deal with what ifs that much, I'm that realist fella. The reality is that we didn't win the championship last year, even though we tried, and he didn't win the Bud Shootout this year, even though he did try. That's the reality of it. Obviously, they're real strong. I think he was leading when we came in, but he also started ahead of us. I was real pleased with the way we came through the pack, but I'm not saying we have the strongest car here by any means. I still realize that we are way ahead of where we were last year, but we certainly don't have everything in the bag here. We still have some more work to do and maybe when we come next year for the 500, we will have gotten the rest of what we need. But we made a major improvement this year."