Phoenix: Winning team press conference, part 1

Subway Fresh Fit 500 Post-Race Transcript An Interview With: MARK MARTIN - Winner ALAN GUSTAFSON - Crew Chief THE MODERATOR: We are now joined in the in field media center by tonight's winner of the Subway fresh fit 500, driver of the No. 5...

Subway Fresh Fit 500 Post-Race Transcript

An Interview With:

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined in the in field media center by tonight's winner of the Subway fresh fit 500, driver of the No. 5 Car Quest Kellogg Chevolet, Mark Martin. Mark, tell us about your run.

MARK MARTIN: Man, that was, that, was pretty awesome. Great, great race car. Great pit stops. Great strategy. There was a lot of pressure on both of us, and I really, truly believe that it will be a little bit easier for us going forward. Maybe not for Alan, I don't know, but for me, I've carried a lot of weight, you know, on my shoulders. I really, really, really wanted to do this. I really, really, really wanted to win.

You know, I couldn't get my fingers we have had Top 10 cars every race, but I couldn't get my fingers out there and get them around a win, and the performance yesterday in practice was something that I said, maybe this is it; it's better. I liked the car better than the other places that we've been.

So I think it's going to really make it even more enjoyable.  I've had a
blast already.  This is  I don't know.  It's overwhelming.  You know, I
don't know.  This is very, very overwhelming to me.

I hoped it would happen. But I didn't expect it to happen. I only hoped. It's a stretch. But Rick Hendrick, you know, I sat and watched him make Tim Richmond's dreams come true from being sick, and this may not be as dramatic, but big to me.

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by tonight's winning crew chief, Alan Gustafson. Alan, tell us about your view from on top of the box tonight.

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Well, like Mark said, it was a great night. To win one of these races, it's really hard, and a lot of things have to go your way, and all of the work has to kind of culminate at one time together. Fortunately for us, it did. I'm just really proud of Mark and all of the guys.

The start to our season wasn't what we expected, and I don't think in my eyes it was what we deserved. But tonight, I'm just really proud for all of the guys and Mark and Mr. Hendrick for supporting me. We had a dismal season last year, and he never had his faith never wavered on our team, and what we need to do to win. And I just want to thank him. We could not do any of this without him. He's just a really special person.

It was just a great night. Pit stops were really good. Mark's qualifying effort really helped us with the pit stops and we had a good car, but Mark Martin is the one what went out there and did it for us; he did it Friday night and he did it tonight.

To touch on something Mark said, I made a pact with myself: If I'm lucky enough to have Mark Martin drive my car, I'm going to win. So it's nice to get that done this early.

Q: As you're driving around there on the post victory lap and the fans are right there and they are lining the fence and flash bulbs are popping and they are cheering, what was that like looking out at them, what kind of things did you see and hear and feel at that moment?

MARK MARTIN: It was you know, it was pretty I wasn't going to do a burnout, but it was pretty incredible. It came to me, usually I'm all preoccupied with all kind of stuff, but it came to me immediately. I actually had quite a bit of thoughts about Alan, you know, and where he might have been in front of me if he would have still been around tonight; what an incredible competitor he was.

So I thought about that. Obviously enjoyed seeing the enthusiasm from the race fans. But you know, the response from the competitors means much more than the trophy, and that was an incredible really, really incredible, from all of the crew guys to all of the guys, including Jack Roush, who seemed genuinely happy. And Jack and I are at tight as we have ever been and have been through all of this.

I'm still a huge fan of Jack Roush's and he's still a huge fan of mine. So that was good to see. And then all of the drivers, you know, and the crew. It's just, like I said, I hoped it would happen, but you know, it's asking a lot, man. These things are hard to win. Alan told you, you know, it's hard just to make a car good enough to win, and then it's like ten times harder to win one on top of that.

So it's cool. It's a cool night.

Q: So with like 30 laps to go, we are going through the record books, everybody is scrambling to find age charts and everything. You are the third oldest driver in NASCAR history to win a race and only before tonight, only three drivers 50 or older had done it. So tonight, how old do you feel? You don't eat In N Out; you haven't been in Burger King in like 15 years; Kurt Busch read your book, Strength or whatever.

MARK MARTIN: I feel fine right now, I tell you. (Laughter) I told the guys in victory lane when they asked something about that, it was like, you know, I don't have any problem keeping up with a 25 year old, at least not for the next 15 minutes, because I have got the biggest shot of adrenaline that you've ever seen.

Feel really good. I've been so incredibly blessed. I was really happy in 2008, and have been even more happy in 2009, and I didn't think that was possible. I am in a different league stress level compared to last year. But working with these guys puts so much more fun in the factor that it overcomes the stress level of, like you told you guys, measuring up, measuring up to myself. I don't want to let anybody down, especially Alan and that team.

You know, I've wanted the effort  or I've wanted the result, you know, to
equal the effort on their side and on my side.  We didn't just fall into
this one.  It was cool.  That's the way I want to win right there, not
stumble around and fall into it.  Man, go out there and take it.

Q: Does he drive like someone half his age?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Age is irrelevant with Mark. You hear his age come up and people ask me a lot. If I've been asked one, I've been asked a thousand questions about Mark and Mark's age, and I can tell you, I don't even think about it. It doesn't even come into the equation when I talk with him and work with him and when I'm around him. It's irrelevant with Mark.

Mark's enthusiasm, his energy, his drive; you know, he has more drive than any other person I've probably met in my life, make up for anything, any other shortcomings that he may have, which are very, very, very few, if any at all. I think that's irrelevant. He's incredible. He's as good as any of them, and you can't say enough good things about him.

Q: After your last green flag stop with like 52 laps left, they tell you you have enough gas to make it

MARK MARTIN: And I asked three times, four.

Q: You come on and say, oh, boy, we are in trouble if it goes all the way.

MARK MARTIN: No, it's so loud, you can't understand. I think I said, "They are in trouble."

Our stuff was right.  They were in trouble if it went all the way.  But I
know where you're probably going here.  And let me just tell you, I knew for
positive it wasn't going to go all the way.  That was way too easy.  It
ain't ever been easy and never will be for me.  I knew for positive.

And I also knew that there was the old comments that comes out, and you guys claim I am, I never thought I was going to win. I finally thought I was going to win when I got to the white flag, and when I got when he said two to go, I ran my guts out. I had to hurry before they had them a wreck. So these things are hard to win, man.

Q: You did have the caution, as you said, right there almost at the end of the race. Were you like, I'm going to get by Ryan at the very first opportunity? What was your game plan?

MARK MARTIN: Tony Stewart, I've seen that dude in action on the restart. Wheww, he can do stuff. I knew it was my opportunity to lose it, and I also knew that Ryan, you know, he couldn't just quit. I mean, he knew he was done for, but he still had to do what he had to do.

So, you know, we were in a pickle there. I really it really would have been so much easier if Ryan had not been up there. That was my perfect opportunity to stumble, and of course, with better tires, I could accelerate better, and we accelerated and the got the run at him. Everything was perfect. I looked to the inside. He started coming down and I couldn't lift. I had to make a change, quick, and we did. I could not afford to skip a beat.

I've seen Tony in action, man. I couldn't afford to; I had to go. And I'm really fortunate that it worked out. He looked low, he went in the corner and slid up some, but our car was really spectacular the last two runs of the night.

Alan did good. I gave him an opportunity to I don't always give him free reign to make adjustments. I kind of gave him opportunity the last couple of stops, and he made the right calls, and our car was rocket ship the last two runs.

Q: This is the fifth consecutive race at Phoenix won by Hendrick Motorsports, other than the great job from the drivers and the pit crews, is there anything specific that you can tell us that Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs have found on setups here that would point to five consecutive wins at this track?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: I don't think that there's anything specific. This was a track we actually did not have a very good record at up until a few years ago. I don't know exactly, but I think Terry may have won a race here a while back, and we won with Kyle in 2005 and I think at that time that might have been our only two wins here.

Jeff won, I don't remember, might have been the first COT race here or might have been one of the first COT races here, and I think the COT, we jumped out with a good program here. And any time you have success that kind of validates what you're doing, and Jeff won that race; and then Jimmie and Chad have been really dominate here.

So I knew coming into this weekend that what the baseline that we were going to have to beat was. We weren't scrambling or guessing what you have to do to win, because Jimmie has won so many races. So we knew that's what we had to beat; so we could look at that and evaluate it and try and make it a little better, and fortunately for us we had Mark Martin driving our car and that helps, too.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Jack Roush , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports