MARK MARTIN, DRIVER OF THE NO. 8 STEAK-UMM BURGER IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed the tire issue at Indianapolis, why he likes racing at Pocono, having momentum and much more. IS YOUR CAR THE SAME AS WHEN...
MARK MARTIN, DRIVER OF THE NO. 8 STEAK-UMM BURGER IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed the tire issue at Indianapolis, why he likes racing at Pocono, having momentum and much more.
IS YOUR CAR THE SAME AS WHEN YOU DROVE HERE IN JUNE AS FAR AS SETUP OR HAVE YOU GUYS PROGRESSED? "We're using all the same stuff. We're starting just exactly where we left off. So we haven't really involved a lot. We did a lot of work in the beginning of the year. We came up here and tested and we felt like that was the best that we could do and we haven't come a long way since then."
ARE PEOPLE CATCHING UP TO YOU OR ARE YOU HAPPY WITH WHERE YOU ARE AT? "I feel like we've held our ground. We have been a top-10 car pretty much all season. I don't feel like we're losing any ground. Certainly we would like to do better but if you go out and do worse because you're trying to better, I don't know if that's really doing better or not. Sometimes you've got to wait until you find something that is worthwhile before you try to implement it."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT THE YOUNGER DRIVERS CAN DO TO HELP BUILD CONFIDENCE? "I think solid performances. Solid performances and learning to make good decisions consistently are all ingredients to becoming a top-10 team."
ON THE ECONOMY. "It's tough times for everybody. I think everyone sees it or feels it. Most of America feels it. At the same time, I think America is very resilient. It's not the first time that there's been an economic pinch and certainly and unfortunately it probably won't be the last time."
HOW DO YOU GUYS DEAL WITH IT, IS THERE ANY DIFFERENCE TO YOU GUYS AT ALL? "I don't think we're as affected as the average middle-class family. We see the effects. There are fewer sponsors out there, fewer endorsement deals, smaller numbers in some areas but for the most part the people that I really feel for are the middle-class."
IT SEEMS LIKE EVERYBODY IN THE PRESS MAKES A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT WHEN A DRIVER OR TEAM GETS ON A ROLL, IS THERE MOMENTUM FOR REAL AND WHAT EFFECT DOES IT HAVE ON A TEAM? "Well, it's for real but its air. It's not something that you can pick up and hold in your hand. It is real. A one dollar part will break your momentum. It's like ridiculous sometimes when the media carries it to the point where momentum is great but you can't live and die by momentum because a dollar part breaks it. It's like any other sport or basically anything I've ever done, anything. Sometimes you get on a roll and everything goes good and you can do no wrong. Even when you do something that's wrong it turns out right for you. That's momentum."
POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE, WHAT IS THE IMPACT? DO YOU JUST FEEL LIKE YOU'RE GOING TO WIN? "I don't know how other people feel. I've always felt really good when I was riding the wave."
WHEN YOU HAVE CONFIDENCE, HOW MUCH OF THAT TRANSFERS OVER TO THE RACE TEAM? WHEN YOU PULL OUT ONTO THE TRACK AND YOU'RE GOOD HOW MUCH DOES THEIR PREPARATION GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE? "Confidence is very important. To me confidence is more important than momentum because a dollar part doesn't necessarily break your confidence. If a race team does not have confidence in their driver they will not over the long haul get great results. Their results will diminish as that feel good starts to deteriorate and go downhill. I've seen it over and over again in my career. There's something magic when a race team believes in a driver and when a driver believes in a race team. They'll get better results than they even should for a long period of time based on that."
WHAT WOULD YOU PREFER GOODYEAR DO IF THEY EVER HAD A QUESTION AGAIN ABOUT HOW THE TIRES AFFECT RACING? "I don't think they had a question about the tire for Indy. I think they expected it to do the same as it has done in the past few years. I would have too. They do always favor the conservative side of the tires and I've been frustrated with the handling characteristics of the tires because they weren't a little bit more aggressive but they always try to put themselves on the safer side, the conservative side. What happened at Indy was it didn't do what it always does. Last year we went there and we had tires chord in five laps on Friday. On Saturday by the end of happy hour we could make 15 laps and then Sunday in the race we could go a fuel stop. Same thing here except Saturday was different, chorded them Friday in five laps, chorded them Saturday in seven laps and chorded them all day Sunday in seven to nine laps. They didn't expect that and nor did I. I don't blame them for anything that happened there. For some reason it didn't do what it has done in the past. The tires are a lot different than they used to be. They used to be gooey. They used to have oil in them or something in them. They were gooey, rubbery. They're powdery now. They're carbon, they make black dust. They don't put rubber down in the corners, they put black dust down in there and I'm not sure that's the same thing. Over the period of the last five or 10 years the tires just get harder and dryer and spitting off more black powder. I don't know, I kind of like the old gummy tires."
YOU'VE LED A LOT OF LAPS HERE, YOU'VE FINISHED WELL HERE BUT YOU'VE NEVER MADE IT TO VICTORY LANE, WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO COME IN HERE THIS WEEKEND AND TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS? "What would really be special to me is to see this No. 8 team in Victory Lane. They really, really deserve it. They're due and it would mean a lot to me to be a part of that."
WHAT ABOUT THIS TRACK, DO YOU LIKE RACING THIS TRACK? "Remember I'm running a limited schedule so any track I'm at racing, I like. A lot of people were surprised that I chose this but I wanted to run both races here because I really like racing in Pocono."
HOW IMPORTANT TO YOU IS IT A FACTOR OF PUTTING ON A SHOW FOR THE FANS? "Well I believe the driver's first responsibility is performance but we know to make this thing viable for the long haul there has to be a good show put on but selfishly each race team really wants to win. If you've been around this thing for a while and you got some maturity to you, you understand the show is very critical."
WILL THE NEW TESTING POLICY HELP POSSIBLY AVOID ANYTHING LIKE WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK? "Yes, it will. I've never understood why we didn't test at Indy, the second biggest race of the year. I still don't and don't have a clue why we're going to Charlotte again for a test. If it is where we could test at Indy or some of us can or the ones that choose can whatever, that will help a ton."
ARE YOU FOLLOWING THE BRETT FAVRE SAGA, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? "Not really because I'm not a sports fan, just a motorsports fan. I did read one article, which is huge for me, on the situation where he didn't go to camp or whatever it was. He's kind of in a bad spot. He wants to play and it sounds to me like if he wants to play he gets to sit on the bench or nothing kind of. You know what, every decision that every human being makes is not always going to be right. I don't know for sure. Maybe he didn't make the right decision at one time that put himself in a box and I just feel sorry for him because I know that he wants to play. I wish he was able to go play. I understand that his position is filled at the Packers but maybe he would like to go play somewhere else and maybe somebody would like to have him. I wish he could."
DO YOU FEEL SOMEWHAT LUCKY THAT YOU ARE ABLE TO COME BACK AND DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO? "I'm lucky to be able to do what I want to do. That's why I feel for Brett. It looks to me like he's in a position where he can't really do what he wants to do and he's physically up to it. For me, I just really feel fortunate that I'm physically and mentally up to doing what I really love and I have the opportunity to do that."
ON WHY HE LIKES RACING AT POCONO. "It's just a great place to race. I love this place. I always have. I love racing here. I don't know what they're talking about when they start talking about Pocono not being at the top of their list because it's right near the top of my list of placing to go racing. The fans are awesome here. The track's awesome. I love it."
IS THE TRACK DIFFERENT FROM THE FIRST RACE TO THE SECOND RACE AND IF SO HOW?" "I don't know about this time but characteristically it's much, much looser and quite a bit different here the second race from the first race. Usually the second race is in the past used to really throw the teams for a loop. They would unload and think they were going to be good and set up like they were for the first race. It was only a month apart and yet it was like whoa what happened here. I don't know what it will be like this time."
HAVING RUN THE NEW CAR HERE ONCE, IS THERE A LITTLE BIT MORE OF A COMFORT ZONE AS YOU COME BACK HERE WITH IT NOW? "I was pretty comfortable with it before. I don't see that as being an issue. We had a test here and we were all pretty zeroed in on what we needed with the car and I thought we had a great race."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE TIRE ISSUE LAST WEEK? IN THE AFTERMATH WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE? "I think that everyone did the very best they could with the situation and I think that in defense of Goodyear the race track didn't do what it has always done. I wasn't concerned on Friday when we chorded tires in five laps because we did a year ago Friday in five laps. I was however extremely concerned when we chorded tires in seven laps on Saturday at the end of happy hour because last year we could make 15 by then. The race track never ever took rubber like it had the year before. At that point and time all we could do is dig in, grab hold and make the best of the situation. So I think that Goodyear got, I don't know how to word it, tricked. Something happened that it didn't react historically speaking like it had in the past. It would be very hard for them to know that. I didn't know that but I knew we were in trouble Saturday but at that point there was no fixing what we had."
ANY THEORY ABOUT WHY THAT HAPPENED THOUGH? "I don't, but I don't know the chemistry. You know I don't know a lot of things. I do know that the race tires, in order to make them durable and whatever other reasons, I'm not a chemist, but I know that the tires are very, very what I would call dry. They don't have hardly any oil in them. All they seem to make is black powder, black dust. Back in the day they put off gum. That gum would have gone down in those grooves in the race track and maybe would have filled them in but the black powder didn't seem to fill in the grooves in the race track and the wear just never gave up but I'm sure there was not a major difference in the chemistry of the rubber from a year ago. I don't know why it did it but Goodyear needs to be defended in that respect because they had every reason to believe that they were okay on Friday."
WHERE DOES THIS TRACK FALL IN TERMS OF TIRE WEAR COMPARED TO SOME OF THE OTHER ONES YOU RACE ON? "This place is good. This place is good for tire wear."
DID YOU EVER HAVE ISSUES HERE? "No, don't say that. It's good now. It's right good, it's good. We don't need to dig into the past history and different evolutions of asphalt, evolutions of tire construction and everything else."
WILL YOU PAY MORE ATTENTION TO WATKINS GLEN NEXT WEEK EVEN THOUGH YOUR OFF BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING BACK NEXT YEAR? "To the Glen, yeah we pay more attention to watching the race."
WILL YOU GO BECAUSE YOU'RE GOING BACK NEXT YEAR? "No, I'm not going. I watch the races very closely anyway and actually even watched Sears Point. I watch them all but I watched Sears closely because I hadn't been out there in two years and know I'm going back. I'll watch it the same as I have. I'm a great fan and I've watched almost all of all the races that I haven't raced in."
-credit: gm racing