Charlotte Motor Speedway
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed racing in the Coca-Cola 600, his future plans, Trevor Bayne and other topics.
TALK ABOUT RACING HERE AT CHARLOTTE IN THE COCA-COLA 600: “Coming in here today to the media center, the air felt kind of like it did in 1982 when I ran my first one. I remember, it was really hot and it felt really hot today out there in the sun so it kind of reminded me of Charlotte in May. I’m kind of glad that we run the 600 miles ending in the dark based on how tough this thing can be in the middle of the afternoon with that blazing sun. It does make it a little easier on us.”
DOES THE LENGTH OF THIS RACE AND THE NIGHT-TIME ATMOSPHERE MAKE IT MORE LIKELY FOR ONE TEAM TO HIT ON SOMETHING MORE THAN OTHERS? “I don’t think the length has a significant impact on that. But, the day into night can have. But usually what that does, most of the time, it takes a car that can run up front initially can’t quite get it done late at night. Or vice versa. Which has been mostly the case for me. I’m usually miserable for half of the race and then the race track starts coming to us and we get better. But, the race track itself lends itself to a hot streak seemingly a little bit more than a lot of tracks and that’s because it’s so demanding handling wise. It is quite the character. I mean, this race track used to be one of the moodiest race tracks that we ran. One of the most moody race tracks of all with temperature. It is a little bit different animal now with this new asphalt mix, a little less than it used to be. It used to be really crazy.”
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE AT SAY THE 300 MILE MARK AS THE TRACK STARTS TO TRANSITION? WOULD SAY 20TH BE AN OK PLACE TO BE? “I would be much happier with 10th with a 100 laps to go and have the race car coming to its own. 20th would work, but 20th is hard now days no matter what you’ve got. I mean, it is just tough because everybody is so close to the same speed. If I was running 10th and my car was coming into its own, I would have a whole 100 laps to get it done, I’d feel really good about that. Anything forward of that is going to be comfortable but your car may only come into its own half-way. You can only do the best that you can and once that this race starts, it’s not 600 miles. It’s 399 laps to go. You just work backwards and you figure your strategy off of what is in front of you. You have your plain ole’ strategies like – don’t wreck’ don’t tear the car up – you have certain normal strategies. But you really have to pick your strategies as thing materialize in front of you. You have to plan and then the caution comes when you didn’t plan it then you have to re-shift around. It is a great race and even though it is 600 miles, to me it just seems like a normal NASCAR race to me.”
TEAM’S FORTUNES SORT OF EBB AND FLOW OVER TIME, HOW MUCH OF THAT IS BECAUSE OF WHAT OTHER TIMES AND GET AHEAD AND OTHER TEAMS LOSE AND FALL BEHIND? HOW FINE IS THAT LINE AND CAN YOU TELL WHAT SIDE YOU ARE ON? “Just to through you a number, to just to take a shot at a number, it’s 80% the first part you said. The competition, you don’t control them. Maybe 20% in your area because if you’ve got a competitive advantage and you’re going along and you don’t try to get better and the competition doesn’t get better, then you still are on top. When they finally hit on something, then you are not at a competitive advantage and you might look at yourself and say ‘well we got behind’. Well, you weren’t behind until all of a sudden somebody stumbled on to something. When you have an advantage, you can’t mess that up. You can dabble with new things. You always do, you look at different things to try to make it better but if that doesn’t seem better, you don’t mess with it. You get forced into that when the competition one-ups you. You are forced to go in to areas and continue to fight those areas and not give up as quickly on those new areas once you get behind. It is just competition. It has always been that way.”
QUESTION INAUDIBLE-NO MICROPHONE: “Absolutely. Absolutely. Springs, shocks sway bars. There’s enough little tweaking on aero that can be done. Whatever we don’t think there is anything is left in, somebody will find a significant advantage in that area some day. It might be 18 months from now, but when you think that area is played out and you don’t look at it anymore, 18 months down the road, 12 months down the road, two years down the road, somebody finds a whole new trick box. It is like, everything is a little different than it was two years ago and that allows that area to become fertile for bearing fruit again. It is the best I can explain it. It is weird.”
TREVOR BAYNE WAS IN HERE AND YOU WOULD NEVER KNOW THAT DUDE HAS BEEN THROUGH WHAT HE HAS BEEN THROUGH THIS YEAR, DO YOU KNOW HIM WELL ENOUGH TO SPEAK WITH HIM AND YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM? “Yes and no. I sent some messages to him when he was initially out of the race car. I know him. We’re not like best friends, but when I was at DEI in ’08, he was at DEI working everyday in the shop and racing on the weekends and I assume doing his school work at night on the internet. Very very very impressive young man. I know him like that. I don’t know him like a going out to dinner hanging out kind of guy. We’d be the odd couple any way. We might listen to the same music.”
It is not really time to focus on it.
QUESTION INAUDIBLE-NO MICROPHONE: “I’d have to say that a Daytona 500 trophy would probably tend to put a little boost in your step, but he always had a great attitude. He is very interested in absorbing. When he was around me, he was like a sponge. He was listening.”
YOU PREVIOUSLY TALKED ABOUT THAT NOTHING IS REALLY SET FOR NEXT YEAR, THAT TYPE OF THING, AT WHAT POINT DO YOU HAVE TO START TO FOCUS ON IT OR DO YOU JUST LET IT PLAY OUT ALL SEASON LONG THE WAY IT PLAYS OUT? “It is not really time to focus on it yet. I like I said in a quote not too long ago and it is pretty true. I don’t need a job so therefore I don’t have to focus on it. I’ll let one come to me. It is getting to time when little rumblings start happening behind closed doors but I am not in a big hurry because I am really in a good place in my career and in my life. I truly believe that something really really, I don’t know how to describe it, fulfilling, fun, exciting, the right deal is going to come along for me. They are out there starting to swirl, starting to come together with some ideas but the biggest thing is that the sport is trending toward a little later in the year for some of these things coming together. This is still May so it is pretty early right now yet. Earlier than like it was in ’08 when this was coming together to go to the No. 5 car. I thought that was really early. I got the deal done early in the season. I think that deals get done later in the season now and they did in ’08. Nothing to report. Nothing going on. Not pursuing anything. Just kind of letting the pieces of the puzzle start to fall into place.”
SO ARE YOU SAYING AT LEAST A FEW THINGS HAVE BEEN PUT ON THE TABLE FOR YOU TO AT LEAST BEGIN YOUR THINKING? “What ifs. It is like ‘what if’. There has been a handful of what ifs. And you guys have all been in this business and you know how it takes 100 what ifs to make one deal happen. So, there has been just a few what ifs starting to pop up.”
-source: ford racing