Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, was part of a Q&A session with Tony Stewart following NASCAR Winston Cup happy hour Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Martin, who qualified 34th for the season finale, trails Stewart by 89 ...
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, was part of a Q&A session with Tony Stewart following NASCAR Winston Cup happy hour Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Martin, who qualified 34th for the season finale, trails Stewart by 89 points.
MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus
HOW IS YOUR CAR?
"Well, we're not good enough, not as good as we'd like to be, but that's not much different than what you get from me every week. We may make a change or two, but they'll be minor. We turned some decent laps. We have a car that will be good on the long runs. Unfortunately, if we get long runs and not many cautions, with where I'm starting, it's not gonna play out too well. But we've got the same kind of car that we have most of the time, which is a long haul setup. The car doesn't start off as fast as the fast cars, but it finishes off faster than most. It would be a tremendous advantage to us if we were starting in the top 10, but we didn't pull that off yesterday. We made some setup choices that didn't agree with the blazing sun and we went out early in the blazing sun, so will do what we can from the 34th starting position. We tried a couple different combinations during the happy hours and all of them seemed to work the same - not good enough - but on the long run they'll be better than most."
WILL YOU BE AWARE OF WHERE TONY IS DURING THE RACE?
"With the deficit that we have, if Tony doesn't have a problem we're not gonna have a shot at it. It's a real honor that Ben Leslie and the team has revived my career and put me in a position where I have a chance going into the last race to win the championship. My realistic goal was to try to get back in the top 10 this year. Obviously, we set our sights higher than that about May when it looked like there might be a chance we could contend for the thing, but we've had a great year and it's been an honor to drive the stuff I've driven this year."
DOES THE APPEAL SITUATION AFFECT YOU AT ALL FOR TOMORROW?
"If something was to happen tomorrow and we were to wind up within 24 points of Tony and we hadn't appealed, we could never forgive ourselves when we have such a great case."
DID THE WIND PLAY ANY HAVOC WITH YOUR SETUP TODAY AND WILL IT BE A PROBLEM TOMORROW?
"That was the trouble today because I was complaining about my car not driving quite as well as the test. I hadn't put a lot of thought into that. I was very pleased in the test. I thought we really had something to work with from start to finish and now it's turned to only finish. I mean, the car is good but it takes a long time to get there. That has its set of negatives - on restarts and getting passed early in runs and different things like that. They're predicting pretty strong winds tomorrow based on the forecasts that I've looked at, so it will be the same for everybody, but you feel it in the corners. You don't feel it so much on the straightaways, but it will be a problem for everyone. It'll be the same kind of obstacle and the guys that are set up the best will shine."
WHAT HAPPENED IN PRACTICE TODAY. YOU HAD SOME MARKS ON THE SIDE.
"It didn't damage the car at all and it was a misjudgment on my part. The car in front of me was passing the 49 car and I went with him, so we rubbed a little bit. I got a little sideways. I guess if I would have spun and hit the wall, then we wouldn't be starting much further back with a good car that we tested down here that ran pretty well, so I don't think it would have had a huge consequence. I've tried to be smarter than that this year and just about stubbed my toe."
CAN YOU REFLECT ON 1990 AND THE POINTS PENALTY THERE?
"I can't remember that far back. I don't know. That's 12 years ago. One of the points I wanted to make was that in '98 we had a great year and we finished second in the points, but we went into the last race without a chance because the championship was clinched. It's been an honor to drive for this race team and to drive this stuff. We really had a shot at it all the way and I'm proud of that. Miracles do happen sometimes and it's not over yet."
FINAL COMMENTS: "I just want to thank, not only the race fans, but the competitors and so many people that have come out of the woodwork over the past six months, five months, when we really had a shot at this thing and as we got closer and closer to the end of it. It's meant a lot to me to see the people almost look like they wanted it even worse than I did. One of my greatest fears was the fear of letting those people down because I can handle it. But it meant a lot and it means that over the past 15 years that I've managed to earn a lot of respect and, after last year, that really means a lot because I didn't feel like I had as much as I do now. I want to thank all those people for their support and, for them, showing that kind of respect. And I definitely want to thank my race team. After last year, this has been sweet. I have great hopes for next year based on the things that have happened this year. The way we ran the last two weeks has been real special to me. Tony is a real hard guy to beat on the race track, but we've had cars that could contend to win the last two weeks in a row and that's not easy. So, we've battled that number down to where it made it exciting for you guys (the media) and the fans. Hopefully, we can continue going in that direction, but it's a tall order for tomorrow."