Kansas: Pole winner interview

MARK MARTIN , NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS, POLE WINNER HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET YOUR SEVENTH POLE OF 2009?: "That's pretty incredible. 1989 was the most poles for me in one year -- I remember it was 1989, we got six so that's a crazy...

MARK MARTIN , NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS, POLE WINNER

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET YOUR SEVENTH POLE OF 2009?:

"That's pretty incredible. 1989 was the most poles for me in one year -- I remember it was 1989, we got six so that's a crazy stat right there."

HOW DOE IT FEEL TO HAVE THE YOUNGER DRIVERS LOOK UP TO YOU SO MUCH AND ENDORSE WHAT YOU'RE DOING?:

"It's been incredible. I try not to think too far forward right now. I'm thinking about the present, but not too much forward because I don't want to think about the possibility of letting all those people down. I will race with all my heart like I have all my life. I'm incredibly blessed. Hendrick Motorsports swept the top-three spots today in qualifying and I was really excited for Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., he really needed a shot in the arm and got it. It would have been nice to see him on the pole, but it's still front row is great. I've been blessed. Let me ask you guys something. Has any of you ever stepped on a cat's tail? Have you? I have accidentally stepped on a cat's tail before and it's pretty funny how fast, they make a noise and they go really fast. That's kind of like when I stepped on the gas in that 5 car today, it was like stepping on a cat's tail. This thing has so much horsepower, I'm really impressed with everything -- with the engines, with the chassis, with the fabrication. What Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and I have going is really something special -- it's really something special. I hope for Alan that he will continue in his career to have something special with other guys in his career. I won't. The communication that we have, the faith and belief that we have in one another -- it doesn't matter if they don't fix my car. If I tell them that it's not good and I walk away, when I come back, I believe it's fixed and I'll drive it like it is fixed, which is pretty much what we did today. We believe in each other -- I don't see how you can believe any more than this team believes. We are new together this year. That's one thing that we have going for us really, to be honest with you. We have never let each other down, never. I think that's worth something to us right now and we're just going to fight for it with all our heart."

DO YOU FIND IT AS EASY TO STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE NOW WHEN YOU NEED TO?:

"I must because I'm stepping out of it every time I qualify. And I've been driving really hard this year, really pressing my luck. The equipment has been great and I've had good luck with it. I hadn't let us down yet, I hadn't messed up and had to take the blame for messing our day up because I wrecked the car driving over my head. We are going for it -- no matter where we are on the race track. If we happen to be out there running 25th on Sunday, you can believe we are racing our guts out. We're not leaving anything on the table, no matter if we're leading or we're running in the back, we'll be racing and fighting with everything we've got."

DO YOU KEEP TRACK OF WHERE JIMMIE JOHNSON IS ON THE TRACK DURING THE RACE? DO YOU THINK OF IT JUST BEING THE TWO OF YOU THIS WEEKEND?:

"No, I would think that would be ridiculous. We're 20 percent in to this Chase. We don't even know whose going to be the contenders yet. You would expect the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) to be, they have been before. No, I have not kept up with the 48 as of yet, but it's very early in the running. We were really fighting to get in the Chase and I kept up with our competitors then so obviously when I believe the race is on, I probably will. I don't think that will probably come until something like four to go. It's just very early."

HAVE YOU HAD THE SENSATION OF STEPPING ON A CAT'S TAIL IN A RACE CAR BEFORE AND IF NOT, WHAT IS IT LIKE TO SUDDENLY REALIZE THAT THIS IS WHAT IT'S SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE?:

"I have used that reference before because I have really stepped on one before, it was an accident, but it was pretty incredible how a cat will move and the noise that it makes. And I was referring really to the engine, our engine today was amazing. Down every straightaway, it felt like I had a tail wind going both directions. I know the guys are bringing their A-game from the engine shop for this Chase. I've driven really good race cars and I've had a lot of success, but I haven't had this much success this late in my career before."

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE AS STRONG AS DICK TRICKLE USED TO BE AT I-70 SPEEDWAY?:

"That was one hell of a compliment -- that's how it feels, I'm humbled. I spent a lot of time chasing him too."

DID YOU CONSIDER RUNNING OUT OF GAS AT MICHIGAN THE TEAM LETTING YOU DOWN OR IS THAT A SIGN THAT YOUR TEAM DOES NOT LET THINGS LIKE THAT LINGER?:

"That's technical and that's a technical question. I guess my response to that is, selective memory. I never, ever felt like my team let me down because we ran out of gas. I felt like that we as a team ran out of gas. You could take what I said and technically say that's not true, but certainly our history is much shorter and much more successful for the short period of time when you think we haven't worked together, we went to California in February and we did not run good. We're excited about going back because we've learned so much about our cars and that was our first time and we really have learned a lot and come a long way. When we came from 34th in owner's points to make the Chase, I don't think there was any letting nobody down. We all had to dig to do that. Technically, you could say what you want to say, but for me, they could not possibly, I told Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) right there in the lounge after that race, I said 'Alan, it's okay, I don't care if we make the Chase or not man, we've run four races. It's been Christmas every day this year for me.' That's how I felt right then and there. If we didn't make the Chase, I absolutely did not care. We had won four races. Way beyond my expectations and I really meant that. It's been Christmas for me every day this year. And he says, 'We're gonna make it.' And I was like in the back of my head saying, 'I don't think so, I don't know how we're going to do it, there's not much time left and everybody that we're racing is running good.' We really stepped it up and since then we've had top-fives after top-fives. It's really gotten stronger."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports