Mark Martin Atlanta II qualifying press conference

MARK MARTIN --6-- Pfizer Taurus (Qualified 2nd) "We picked up a half-second (from practice) and I thought at that point, because Michael and Stacy Compton had picked up a lot as well, that everybody was gonna pick up five tenths. But after...

MARK MARTIN --6-- Pfizer Taurus (Qualified 2nd)
"We picked up a half-second (from practice) and I thought at that point, because Michael and Stacy Compton had picked up a lot as well, that everybody was gonna pick up five tenths. But after watching everybody run, I realized just what a great lap that really was. We had a good car to work with today and it's totally impossible to do that with a car that doesn't work. We've kind of been in that boat this year and hadn't been able to make our cars work for us. This one, even though it had a problem, was pretty fast and we were able to reel that in pretty well so I was pleased."

WHAT ABOUT THAT FIRST WIN? "A win is important no matter if you've had 10. Another win is always important, no matter if it was seven years like it was for Bill (Elliott) or a couple of races. That's what we all work for and that's what we all do. I think that was a good example this year is when you see Ricky Craven get his first win and a number of others like Elliott Sadler. Sometimes you forget, when you've had a run of a lot of really good fortune, just how special even being a contender really is. That's what we work for. It's important to everybody -- not just any one thing or not just because there are two races left. It's a big deal. These things are hard to win."

ARE YOU READY TO START POSTING TOP FIVE FINISHES REGULARLY? "I don't think we're ready to consistently place forward top five qualifying and finishes today, but I think we're a lot closer than we were six months ago to doing that. Have we arrived where we want to be? No, I don't think so, but we certainly have made significant progress and that's very hard to do in this sport right now. We've made significant progress, but we certainly have areas we need to strengthen and we'll continue to work on those."

WHAT ABOUT SEEING YOUNG DRIVERS LIKE CASEY ATWOOD AND DAVE BLANEY COMING UP? "I'm a race fan at heart and I've been excited. I'm not excited today because I'm already used to Casey Atwood. I got excited three or four years ago watching Casey Atwood just about win Nashville in a Busch car when nobody knew who he was in NASCAR. I'm a big fan of NASCAR and, no, I am not envious. I am leading the charge of encouraging sponsors, owners and team to give these young guys a chance. I forget what happened to me because none of us the opportunity at 18, 19, 20 years old to come and drive top flight NASCAR Winston Cup equipment. For me, I'm not sour about that. I've had a degree of success and I'm happy about that, but what I want to see is the next generation of drivers come along and get the opportunity when they're young to drive good stuff -- not be 35 years old before they get into equipment that can contend to win. I have a different viewpoint. I know that some of my peers are happy to try to keep these young guys down. For me, I'm thankful and grateful for the success I've had and I'm very excited about Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch because they're sort of on my team, so to speak. And there are some kids younger than Kyle Busch that are coming and they're coming fast, and they don't have a driver's license yet. So, you guys just hang on here for a couple of years."

WHAT ABOUT MATT COMING UP? "I don't know how I feel about that. To be real honest with you, the sport has changed an awful lot and I look at the sport differently now than when I came into it. I'm like any other parent, I want my kid to be good at whatever they do and, if he races in Winston Cup, I want him to do what Dale Earnhardt, Jr. did here today (won the pole). That's what I want for my son, but if he decides to do something else, I hope he's good at that -- no matter what it is. Racing has been my life since I was 15 years old and it's something that's very close to me and something I'll always be a fan of no matter how old I get, and if my son decides to do it I just hope he's as good at it as most and gets an opportunity to drive some really good stuff."

DID YOU WORK AT ALL ON RACE SETUP TODAY? "We spent the same amount of time today as every Friday, which is all about qualifying. Very few of the guys in the garage spend any of their Friday time on race setup because of the level of competition in Winston Cup. So, today was all about qualifying. I'm sure almost everyone in the garage spent their full focus on qualifying. Unfortunately, an hour and a half, in my opinion, is not enough time to work on race setup, but that's what NASCAR gives us to work with so we have to make the most of it."

-Ford Racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Kurt Busch , Casey Atwood , Stacy Compton , Ricky Craven , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin