Phoenix II: Martin - Ford Friday interview

Mark Martin has two races remaining as driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion. Martin spoke about the changes announced at Roush Racing for next season after Friday's practice. MARK MARTIN - No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion YOUR THOUGHTS ON PAT MOVING ...

Mark Martin has two races remaining as driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion. Martin spoke about the changes announced at Roush Racing for next season after Friday's practice.

MARK MARTIN - No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion

YOUR THOUGHTS ON PAT MOVING TO GREG'S TEAM NEXT YEAR? "I think they'll be king. Pat is really, really an incredible individual and, of course, Greg Biffle, I think, is well known in the garage as being an unbelievable wheel man. When you put good stuff under and unbelievable wheel man, you're gonna really get some special results. I'm happy for Pat and I think Greg will be very happy with the results they get."

DID GREG'S TEAM NEED A CHANGE? "I personally thought they did well this year. He won a race and the rest of us didn't. He won about six races last year and the rest of us didn't win six. Matt's situation is a little different. They were able to hold their deal together a little bit more because of family ties, regional ties - all those things. They kept their deal together a lot better than most teams, so I think Greg's deal has been good. As a whole, I don't have to tell you what our results look like versus what they did last year. I think that he experienced the same as the rest of us did. We were on an all-time high last year and we're not quite as high this year."

WHAT ABOUT JIMMY WORKING WITH DAVID NEXT YEAR? "That's a perfect combination sort of like Jimmy and Kurt Busch was. Jimmy is a fantastic teacher and David is really fast and needs to be whoa'd up from time to time, so I think that will be a really special combination."

HOW IS THE CAR THIS WEEKEND? "I think we're gonna be good this weekend. We're not qualifying specialists. We had an incredible car here last time and I think we qualified around 20th. I don't know. I expect to be around the same and I expect to have the same kind of car to race based on practice. Last time we struggled through practice to find that setup. This time we started right out with it and it's working well, so I feel good about how we're gonna run this weekend."

MATT SEEMED FRUSTRATED WITH THE CHANGES ANNOUNCED. CAN YOU COMMENT ON THAT? "I don't really want to get in the middle of all that for obvious reasons. You put me in a position to criticize something and I'm not criticizing nothing. I'm thankful that I've had 19 years of great race cars and great relationships with great people and I'm not taking any sides right now. I'm just happy to have the experience that I've had."

HAS THE EQUIPMENT BEEN AS GOOD THIS YEAR? "The effort has been as good. The result hasn't, obviously. You don't need me to tell you that. The 17 has had as good or better result, but they have had less turnover in their team than most teams and they've been able to hang on to it better. For the rest of us, we've had to deal with shuffling. We lost critical people with the 6 car last year and it was a while for us to patch that up and a lot of us at Roush Racing experienced that. Our tools maybe haven't been quite as sharp as they were last year. The effort has been the same and I think Roush Racing hopes that next year they'll be back with the tools as sharp as they were, but last year was a very special year for us. All of our stuff was really good and then we got passed up by some of the competition."

JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS BEEN RUNNER UP A COUPLE OF TIMES, BUT NOT AS MANY AS YOU. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FINISH SECOND SO OFTEN? "You know what, it never tore me up because I was sure happier to be second than third or 33rd. It feels pretty good to be close. It feels a lot better to have a shot than not. I don't think it's agonizing. A lot of people in the garage would trade places with me over the years or with Jimmie Johnson right now. As a matter of fact, I'd trade places with Jimmie Johnson right now."

JIMMIE HAS BEEN TRYING FOR FIVE YEARS TO WIN A TITLE. WHAT'S HE GOING THROUGH? "He's run really good, but you know what? There's only one winner every year. It's not like a race. You can be good enough to win a race and not win a race and hope that next week it works out, but on a championship it goes year by year. I've seen those races go a long, long time and not work out when you were good enough. All I can say is I've had a great career and the fans have given me something that means more to me than any Nextel Cup trophy. I've got mine. I'm full. I'm all the way up to the brim. I couldn't ask for a greater life and a greater career and a better following and more support. I'd be ashamed to."

YOU'VE SUPPORTED JAMIE. WHAT'S HE GOING TO NEED? "Jamie needs someone that will really give him a lot of confidence. I was hoping that Pat Tryson and the 6 car guys were gonna wind up over there because I think that would have been the answer to Jamie's troubles because Jamie is looking for someone to work with that was similar to what he had over there with Donnie (Wingo). That's all he needs to have is a relationship. He's a great race car driver and a really good person. We at Roush Racing have failed to give him what he needed to really succeed, so they'll just have to continue to keep looking for that opportunity for him."

WHY HAVE THERE BEEN SO MANY CHANGES IN JUST ONE YEAR AT ROUSH? "It looks so simple when you look from this side looking back, but when you're on the other side looking forward before it all happens, Kurt Busch was the catalyst to all that. Jamie is supposed to be in the 6 car. It's not as simple as it looks today. If you scoot way back, the whole world could have been different by one decision - the whole Roush world could have been different by one decision. Kurt Busch moved on and that moved Jamie over there. My team stayed intact, except for two key players. We suffered from that but overcame it and Jamie still didn't click. I'm not defending or criticizing, I'm saying that if you just look back, it looks different if you look from a perspective as it came to us. Now we look back and say, 'Wow, that's a lot,' but it was all really started with Kurt making his change. I really should be driving a truck and 12 Busch cars this year - what I wanted to do (laughing). Thank goodness things worked out so great for us. I'm very proud that we made the chase. We were within 10 points of the lead with five to go, man. How could you ask for more? That's wonderful. How could you ask for more? I wish that it would have lasted longer. I wish we could have gone into the last one like that, but things haven't turned out since before the green flag at Charlotte. I'm thankful and grateful for all the good things and for the cheers that I've heard at intros that had to come from Jeff Gordon fans and Dale Jr. fans and Tony Stewart fans because I don't have that many. That means a lot to me."

BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE WILL JUST SEE ALL THE CHANGES BEING MADE. "There were changes that happened before those changes. We've lost some people and we got a little bit behind the curve on our own competition and we weren't as good as we were the year before because of change, because of competition, because of all these factors we weren't quite as good as a group as we were. We're just trying to make it good again. The changes made today, you've got a rookie coming in and I think Jim Fennig is the best man for the job. I think Pat Tryson would have been wonderful for Jamie McMurray, but I think Greg Biffle and Pat Tryson will be king in '07 and I think Carl will be king with Bob back. I don't expect to see any changes in the 17 because they never do, so we've got three that I can name for sure that I say are gonna be king - they're gonna be fighting to be king. Everything looks pretty good right there and you've got a great rookie program with Jimmy and David - fabulous - and we've still got to get Jamie's deal worked out. I'd have to say that everything looks good to me. It looks like a good plan."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Mark Martin