Kurt Busch and Mark Martin both participated in a media Q&A session prior to practice on Friday morning at Homestead Miami Speedway, along with the other three drivers competing for the Nextel Cup. Busch holds an 18-point lead while Martin is in...
Kurt Busch and Mark Martin both participated in a media Q&A session prior to practice on Friday morning at Homestead Miami Speedway, along with the other three drivers competing for the Nextel Cup. Busch holds an 18-point lead while Martin is in fifth-place, 82 points behind.
MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus
"There's no pressure on us at all. We came here to win. We came down last week and did testing and really ran good. Our team has done a fabulous job. It's an honor and a privilege to be included in this group. We've had our disappointments throughout this chase and everybody is faced with the possibility of that and we may be too, but, no matter what, it's been an awesome year. 2004 has been incredible, especially considering what 2003 was like."
YOU SEEM SO HAPPY TO BE HERE.
"Comparatively speaking, I would say you're right. 2003 was a miserable year for me and I was very, very concerned that that was the note that I was gonna end my Cup career on. I have a lot of encouragement and enthusiasm coming from the Viagra team. Pat Tryson and all the Viagra guys - a commitment that these guys are gonna stay with me for 2005 and I really believe there's a chance that we can do an even better job in 2005, so I have a lot to be excited about."
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Taurus
DOES THIS TRACK WORK TO YOUR STRENGTH?
"This race track has gone over a facelift in the past 10 years that it's existed. With the new format of the banking, providing for the gradual bank and allowing the cars to race side-by-side and put on a great show is much different than when I had a chance to win here back in 2002. So it's a whole new face and a whole new outlook on what to do to win this championship and we've been in a great position all throughout this championship - to be able to go out and try to lead laps and finish solidly and then to watch somebody put together a hot streak is surreal. It's unparalleled with what we've seen in Nextel Cup racing before, and to compete against that - it's a slim advantage - it's a look of zero, zero. We go into the final race to try to beat Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale, Jr. and Mark Martin for this championship."
YOUR SCENARIO IS THE SIMPLIST.
"Maybe the card catalog or that phone book large as far as scenarios. If we would have had a great run at Atlanta, maybe that would have been a bit smaller, but it's just a matter of doing the job of what your team is capable of and we're capable of winning races. If we can do that on Sunday, yes, the format will be very simple for our Sharpie Ford. But to be able to compete against these guys and to have the season that we've had, we feel as if we've accomplished so much already. We're prepared to win on Sunday, but we're prepared to lose as well. But it would be a much sweeter situation to bring that hardware home on Monday morning."
GREEN, WHITE, CHECKER FINISH. WHAT WOULD THAT LOOK LIKE?
"There usually is a wrecker in that scenario (laughter).
IS THAT ANY DIFFERENT THAN A LONG GREEN FLAG RUN TO THE CHECKERED FLAG?
"There's a different mindset when you get to have a full fuel run and tire run to the end, knowing your position on the race track when that run began. But a green, white, checkered, that just throws all the cards up in the air. Hopefully, the right cards turn out right-side up with the 97 up on top."
CARS OR CARDS?
"I'll also add to that, too. Under that scenario, you don't have the lapped cars up there and that makes it a lot better. The really tough thing about these restarts is when there is a lot of pressure to get something done and you have all those lapped cars up the inside, too. That's really when it gets pretty hairy out there, so you don't have to do with the lapped cars up front in that scenario."
WHAT WAS YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE 1992 CHAMPIONSHIP THAT ALAN KULWICKI WON?
"I remember being so impressed with Alan's calculation of how he was willing to give up the win if he could just stay out and lead those last few precious laps that gave him the five bonus points. That took a lot of willpower. It was pretty incredible and he did what he had to do to lock up those five bonus points for leading the most laps before he made his final pit stop, instead of worrying so much about winning that race."
WHAT IF THERE'S AN EARLY RACE CAUTION? DO YOU PIT WITH LEAD LAP CARS OR STAY OUT TO LEAD A LAP? WHAT HAPPENS IF THREE OR FOUR STAY OUT TO LEAD A LAP?
"That's what would happen if I tried to stay out and lead a lap (laughing), so I'm not gonna do it because I'd be the last one in line waiting for it. So we'll all take turns and I guess the next caution the next guy would get it."
ARE THE DEMANDS ON THE TEAM ANY DIFFERENT NOW THAN BEFORE?
"For us, the first 26 were enough to break anybody's back. We had mechanical failures in six of the first 12 races. There's just no way I saw that we were gonna be able to make the chase. We had to race against tremendous teams like the way Kasey Kahne and his guys were running and Jeremy Mayfield and Jamie McMurray and Dale Jarrett. I mean, all these guys are tremendous and it was a huge race to get in and we were battling from behind. One of the biggest things is that these guys knew they were in all along and we didn't. We had to fight and scratch our way in. We used all our tests but two, and the race tracks that we got to test at, I think, are gonna make a big difference. I think that we're really gonna be strong here based on what we saw in the test and certainly we were strong at Atlanta. I wish we would have been comfortably in and be a little bit more prepared to do battle here in the chase, but if we would have saved anything, we might not have made it in and we desperately didn't want to be on the outside looking in. I wouldn't trade what we've done this year for anything, but we could have been a little bit more prepared if we would have known we were gonna be able to make it in. We just had to throw everything we had at it to get in."
DO YOU EXPECT ANY HELP FROM NASCAR ON SUNDAY?
"One thing I already see that's developed for this weekend is we have about 58 cars on the ground ready to qualify and when you have that, you're gonna have the 43 best cars in the field. That gives a different perspective on what you see as a driver. Going back to last week, as drivers we always complain about small little things to try to help NASCAR see things from the driver's point of view - whether the sun was staring us in the eyes, whether there are some slower cars out on the track - we're just giving them the driver's perspective on what we see. This weekend, I've been around for four years, and usually the last driver's meeting is one of the most powerful ones of the entire year with Helton standing up and stating that we've got a different group of guys in a circumstance that allows them to win the championship. I've always been on the outside looking in. This time around I've got that opportunity to do so and I hope that everybody yields to the leaders that are up front and keeps that in mind all throughout the race."
HOW BAD DO YOU WANT THAT CUP?
"I've seen some of those NASCAR commercials - how bad have you got it. It's to the point now where five guys have an opportunity to add something to their resume that we've all dreamed about as kids. Gordon's got the championships out of this group, but there's an opportunity for Jimmie, for Junior, for Mark. As many years as Mark has been running, I'm the one rooting for him to do it. I'm sure as a teammate, he's rooting for me to do it in this position. It's something where a lot of things have to fall into place and things have to help you throughout the race that you don't know of, and, of course, you have to do the best job that you possibly can in the race car and not stretch beyond the reasonable control of your car and your team to chance something. That's one thing that you don't want to have to live with as a burden is something that was a mistake - a forced error. You don't want to have that on Sunday, so this is a wonderful opportunity for our team to come to a level that we've never seen before, and whether the outcome is positive or negative, we have definitely made a stance for the 97 team to be competitive and one that can compete for a championship."
HOW BAD DO YOU WANT THAT CUP?
"This is my next-to-last chance and I think everybody in this sport knows how hard I'm willing to work for this and how hard I have worked for this. At the same time, I'm not desperate. I've won a lot of championships, just not one of these cups. I've had a great career. I'm not done yet. I'm not done with 2004 until this thing is over with and I will be fierce in 2005. I will have a great team and I believe that I might have another chance at it if things will go our way. I'm really interested. I will be watching and I'll be interested to see in 15 or 20 years if these guys are sitting up here. It's truly an honor for me to race with these guys and to be a contender. Certainly, I would like to beat 'em, but I will be watching. I'm a big fan. You guys don't know, but I know the rate of difficulty to continue to do this for that amount of time and I will be watching (laughter)."