MARK MARTIN --6-- Viagra Taurus (Finished 3rd) WHAT ABOUT WHEN YOU CAUGHT UP TO JEFF? "Yeah, that's the advantage of being in front. We were a little bit faster than Jeff, but we didn't have enough laps to get him. It was gonna take quite a...
MARK MARTIN --6-- Viagra Taurus (Finished 3rd)
WHAT ABOUT WHEN YOU CAUGHT UP TO JEFF?
"Yeah, that's the advantage of being in front. We were a little bit faster than Jeff, but we didn't have enough laps to get him. It was gonna take quite a while. Our car was really, really good on the long run, but we lost a lot of ground early on with new tires and that prevented us from contending to win. We were fast enough at the end of the runs to contend to win for sure, but we were losing so much ground early on. If we work on that and if we get that thing working on new tires as good as it was on old tires, then we can go get one of these things. We had a great team effort today. We had a great car. We would fall back outside the top 10 a lot of times on some restarts and drive back up to fifth or sixth place. That's a good finish for us. It's a brand new car that the guys built and it never had a lap in race trim during practice, so this team is gonna have a lot of depth as we get into the summer. Right now we're just trying to build on things, but as we get into the summer I'm gonna be pretty excited about what they're able to do."
WERE YOU CONFIDENT COMING HERE?
"I felt like especially after Friday that this was the first chance I had this year to win. I liked my car on Friday and I liked it today. I think that if we continue to work with it, maybe we can make it even better. But this was the first race that I felt all year after driving my car on Friday that I felt, 'Hey, we could have a shot at this thing,' and we almost did. Circumstances played out and we're happy to run third, but we certainly weren't slower than Matt or Jeff Gordon at they end. They had positioned themselves in better position to win that race. If we could have positioned ourselves with the lead with the same scenario, then we would have been in good shape to pull it off. There are a lot of things that determine the outcome of these races -- one of which is you have to have a pretty fast car, and then there are a lot of others. I'm proud of this team for what they've accomplished today and accomplished this year. We've had top 10 cars in every race but one this year."
DID IT FEEL GOOD LEADING AT THAT ONE POINT?
"After taking the beating I took last year, it feels good anytime we can crack the top 10. That was a long time. We did get 13 top 10s last year, but that still wasn't nearly as many as we were used to getting. We only got three top fives last year and we've got two already this year. Like I said, there's only one race this year that we weren't running in the top 11. We finished 11th at Bristol, but we got in a wreck at Darlington, otherwise we'd be sitting right up there second or third in points. We're off to a good start. We've missed all the wrecks but one. I got in a wreck at Darlington unfortunately, but we have a lot to be thankful for and I feel really blessed for the opportunity I have to drive for Pfizer and Jack Roush and Ben and all the guys that work on that 6 car. At this stage in my career, I don't think I could be luckier."
WHAT ABOUT MATT'S DAY?
"Matt's a good guy and a tremendous race car driver. He had a tough year last year as I did and they're bouncing back, and we are too. I'm really happy for them."
WHAT ABOUT THE TRACK?
"I thought the track did fantastic -- way ahead of expectations, I think, by all of us. I think some of the Busch guys had a little higher expectations than the rest of us, but the track did well and, obviously, next year will be just absolutely fantastic. My greatest hope is that they don't have to re-pave it again in four years. Gossage told me that he thought they were gonna have re-pave every four years. I hope they don't have to, but if they do and they can do this good a job, I guess we can live with it."
WHAT ABOUT THIS STAGE OF YOUR CAREER?
"When I started Winston Cup racing I was 22 years old, I'm 43 now, what do you think? There's a lot more behind me than there is in front of me and when I was 22 there was a lot more in front of me than there was behind me. That's all I meant and I hope you understand that. I don't want to read something that says I'm retiring and all this goofy stuff. It's just a common sense kind of thing. I'm very fortunate to be driving for such a great race team. I could be struggling another year but I'm not, so God has blessed me again with opportunities to go out and win these races and I'm not sure what I've done to deserve it."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR CONFIDENCE GOING INTO THE YEAR?
"I was excited. I don't mess with confidence a whole lot because that's an emotion that doesn't really get you anything. I took a beating last year. It was a very difficult year for me. There were a lot of days that I went out that I knew I was gonna race for 25th and I didn't want to do that much longer. I'm so grateful that we've been able to dig in and turn that around. I don't know what I've done to be so blessed."
WHICH IS MORE PUZZLING -- LAST YEAR OR THIS YEAR?
"I'd have to say last year. This is what we expect. Gosh, let me tell you something, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton -- in my opinion -- are the best Winston Cup drivers on the circuit and it was pretty unexplainable how we could be so far off. I've said all along when we got running good again that we wouldn't know what we did. Sure, we say we do, but we haven't worked any harder than we worked to run bad. We've been working the same and, evidently, it's just been paying off a lot more than the areas we were working on last year. We have a very determined group. I think the determination was boosted some in 2001 by all -- from Jack all the way down."
TALK ABOUT THE CLEAN RACING.
"If Jeff Gordon wasn't such a great race car driver, he might have gotten the boot at the end. He didn't deserve the boot and I don't deserve the boot either, although I have gotten it a few times. That's not the right way to do it and that's why Jimmie Johnson is sitting here and topping the points and doing so well, it's because he has someone very close by to pattern himself off of -- a great champion."