Mark Martin Talladega and Daytona Preview

MARK MARTIN HAS WON A CAREER-HIGH SEVEN RACES THIS SEASON AND IS COMING OFF A VICTORY IN LAST WEEKEND'S UAW-GM QUALITY 500 AT CHARLOTTE. MARTIN IS SECOND IN THE NASCAR WINSTON CUP POINT STANDINGS TO JEFF GORDON AS THE SERIES PREPARES FOR ...

MARK MARTIN HAS WON A CAREER-HIGH SEVEN RACES THIS SEASON AND IS COMING OFF A VICTORY IN LAST WEEKEND'S UAW-GM QUALITY 500 AT CHARLOTTE. MARTIN IS SECOND IN THE NASCAR WINSTON CUP POINT STANDINGS TO JEFF GORDON AS THE SERIES PREPARES FOR BACK-TO-BACK RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACES. MARTIN, ALONG WITH CAR OWNER JACK ROUSH, GAVE HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT TALLADEGA AND DAYTONA.

MARK MARTIN -6- Valvoline Taurus -- HAS YOUR TEAM MADE ANY PROGRESS WITH ITS RESTRICTOR-PLATE PROGRAM? "It has been an unbelievable effort made by everybody involved and we did test before the July race at Daytona. We made significant progress at that time with our car, but since then we're not sure that we've made any progress because we haven't done anything since that test. Therefore, we don't know how much the competition has progressed. We should be in better shape than we were based on what we saw in our test in June, but we're certainly not where we want to be."

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS MOMENTUM OR DO YOU SEE IT SLOWING THESE NEXT TWO WEEKS? "Well, we can finish anywhere. We've won Talladega twice and we could certainly do it again. We could go to Daytona the following week and handle right and run up front. We just have to keep our heads down and work at it, but it's restrictor-plate racing and it's what we've gotta do. The realist I am, I say a two dollar part will break any momentum that there's ever been. We've got some momentum going. Heck, we ran third at Martinsville. That's something for me. That's how good we're running right now. Our stuff is awesome. For those guys to take me and finish third at Martinsville is pretty spectacular."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING BACK TO A RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACK? "It's another busy week for us. We've got a test on Wednesday, a personal appearance on Tuesday and then head to Talladega on Thursday, so it's gonna be another full week for everybody involved. For the race team to get their stuff down to the race track and taken care of, and to get the restrictor-plate stuff all ready to go. It's just another race on the schedule and it's what's coming up. I said before, I look at the two restrictor-plate races back-to-back as some medicine that you need to take and you may as well take it all at once because when you're finished you're through. That's the way I look at those two weeks together. We've gotta run 'em and if you spread 'em out...this way we'll just do it and after two weeks it'll be over with.

"By the way, there is no alternative to restrictor-plate racing. Don't take that as such a slam on restrictor plates. If there was a better alternative for us we would have found it, but it's a necessary evil. It makes racing quite different than racing today. It's just not the same. Jack's been racing longer than I have, but we've all been racing a long time and we kind of like to do what we do instead of something that's about half backwards."

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner -6- Valvoline Taurus -- YOUR RESTRICTOR-PLATE PROGRAM HAS STRUGGLED OF LATE. HAVE YOU MADE ANY CHANGES? "We've certainly made an effort. We've made changes. We've got our third set of cars organized and I don't know if we've got a good car yet or not. I know we've gotta go put two inches on the width of these Taurus spoilers on the sides and a quarter of an inch to the top. With the SB2 head and the performance this Monte Carlo has given for the last several years, we don't have much of a chance at Daytona and Talladega. I'm afraid this is gonna throw ice water on our championship hopes from a performance point of view. On the other hand, you get into the trains and long drafts at Daytona and Talladega anything can happen and there's very little a driver can do to optimize the prospects of his outcome. So, in that sense, it's kind of a jump ball which may not be a bad thing for us, but I don't think that we'll have the prospect of being as competitive there as we have been over the last 10 races although we've made a Herculean effort."

HAVE YOU TESTED? "We have tested at Daytona with some of the cars. We've tested our engines on our chassis dyno and we've tested our drive-train for trying to optimize those things, but there's nothing conclusive that we can say that we've got a significant gain. I think when we put the spoiler back the way it has to be, we're gonna be in trouble."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT RESTRICTOR-PLATE RACES? "Restrictor-plate racing is not my favorite thing, but, like Mark, I'm gonna go help do it to the best of my ability. I have the prospects in the middle of this coming week to get my B-51 Mustang back, which had a little landing accident at Oshkosh (Wisc.) a few weeks ago and we oughta be able to plan the paint and final restoration of that, so I'm gonna try not to think a lot about Daytona and Talladega.

"Mark will not be able to have as much effect on the outcome of the race for the next two races that he's had since we were at Daytona. Giving up that will be a disappointment because he will have to race wheel-to-wheel with folks that have either better equipment or equipment that is as good and, because of the dynamic of the drafting situation, will not be able to separate himself from those folks. That will be a frustration. We need to go to Daytona and we need to go to Talladega and we need to run these cars so they're safe for the drivers and safe for the fans and restrictor plates are the best solution."

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mark Martin