Mark Martin will be making his final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start behind the wheel of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion in Sunday's Ford 400. Martin spoke about his emotions and the 2006 season overall in between practice for tonight's Ford 200 NASCAR...
Mark Martin will be making his final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start behind the wheel of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion in Sunday's Ford 400. Martin spoke about his emotions and the 2006 season overall in between practice for tonight's Ford 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event.
MARK MARTIN - No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion
ARE YOU EMOTIONAL ABOUT THIS WEEKEND? "No, zero."
A LOT OF PEOPLE MIGHT THINK WITH THIS BEING THE LAST WEEKEND WITH ROUSH THAT IT MIGHT BE TEARING AT YOU, BUT IT'S NOT. WHY? "I don't know why. I can't answer that. I guess I might be surprised to think about it, too. I'm here racing and doing the best that I can to have a good time. It's been a long run and the time is up. I don't know. I'm excited about next year - very excited about next year. It's sad that things have to come to an end, but I think it was said pretty well in some article I read where the other guys that were in the same Daytona 500 as I was in '88, I think there was four of them, and made up 57 different car owners since or something crazy like that. Maybe it was 14 and 57 different car numbers or something, but just because I stayed in the 6 car 19 years doesn't make it wrong for me to move on, it just makes it weird (laughing). It does make it weird, but it doesn't make it a tragedy. Our situation there has been right and has been right for me all through the years and now there's a different situation that's right for me. We all get older. For Jack Roush and I, I think that it just might be that the best years of our racing are behind us. We certainly won't be able to relive those again and we have what's here today going forward to work with and those are our challenges. That's where I am. Instead of being emotional and broken-hearted, I'm more philosophical like, 'This has been awesome.' It's been great for him. It's been great for me. As far as I'm concerned, I'll always be number 6, and I think a lot of other people will feel the same will."
DO YOU THINK JACK WILL GIVE YOU THE CAR YOU DRIVE SUNDAY OR WILL YOU HAVE TO BUY IT FROM HIM OR WILL IT GO BACK IN THE ROTATION? "I don't expect Jack to give me the car. That would be a big shock. It's a good idea though (laughing), but that would be a big shock."
YOU'RE LISTED AS THE OWNER OF THE 17 CAR. HAVE YOU AND JACK TALKED ABOUT THAT? "We initiated the process over a year ago for a buyout on that, so that's already been a year in the works on what I would say is a payment schedule. That's already been taken care of, so I don't know what they'll do with his name, but technically that's already been in the works and been in process."
LAST YEAR YOU WERE IN ALL THREE RACES HERE AT HOMESTEAD AND THIS YEAR YOU'RE IN TWO. THAT'S STILL KIND OF DAUNTING. "It is a little bit, but this is great. I love truck racing. It's a throwback - not all the way back - but it's a throwback of about 20 years. It's much like racing was 20 years ago and everybody knows I love it and I love these guys. I love working with them, so I'm gonna be having a good time with the truck race and we're gonna focus on the Cup race. We came about 24 inches from winning this thing last year and it would be sweeter than sweet to be in contention to do it this year."
IS THIS JUST GOING TO BE A FUN WEEKEND FOR YOU WITH NO PRESSURE OR STRESS? "There is no pressure and no stress and we're having a ball. I've had the time of my life this year. I've also had some of the greater frustrations of my career and I've had the time of my life. The thing I'm enjoying is the fan support. They all know that this is the last race in the 6 and it's been coming. It's no surprise. It's actually been coming for two years. It wasn't my plan to be in the 6 car this year, so two nice things about being back for them this year is the way the fans have responded and supported my effort this year. I've soaked it in more than I ever have before because I've known for sure that this is the last round in it, and so I've soaked it in more. And the other part is that AAA has given me a chance to work with the teen driving safety program, which has been the most important work I've ever done in my career. So I know that I will look back on 2006 as one of the good old days for sure. I still will be friends with all my crew and all the people in the garage and with Jack Roush and everything else. Things are just gonna be a little bit different, but they're not gonna change - like if I was walking away and never gonna drive again, I would assume that I would be somewhat more emotional. I'm not prepared to do that as well as I'm not prepared to go truck racing only. I still hold my own with these guys on a good day and I still want to go to the Daytona 500 and try to win it, and I think that we can so we'll go after it."
HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE POINTS AND WHERE YOU'D LIKE TO FINISH? "No, where I'm at the difference between tenth, ninth, eighth and seventh doesn't really rank on the importance list based on the expectations that we've grown to enjoy at the 6 car. We just go and we run our race and we make our best effort. I was very proud of our effort last weekend. We took a shot to win that thing with a car that wasn't capable of winning it and we got closer than a lot of people (laughing). I'm not gonna say that we about got it, but we got closer than a lot of people and I was very proud of Pat and all of us in our effort. We'll make the same kind of stab at it again here and see what turns out."
-credit: ford racing