MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CHEEZ-IT/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed his thoughts on his teammate Jimmie Johnson, his success at Pocono, his season so far and much more. WE'RE HALF WAY THROUGH THE RACE TO...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CHEEZ-IT/CARQUEST IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed his thoughts on his teammate Jimmie Johnson, his success at Pocono, his season so far and much more.
WE'RE HALF WAY THROUGH THE RACE TO THE CHASE, YOU'VE BEEN THERE ABOUT THE WHOLE WAY, WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE TO GET THERE THE REST OF THE WAY? "Well it's really close. It's really a dog fight. I think that everyone that's in the running for a position there are performing well. For us we can't have any more stubbed toes. If we don't stub our toe we should be fine."
DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE ANY CHANGES IN PIT ROAD SPEEDOMETERS IN THE CAR? "I have wondered why we don't have speedometers but the tach's work well. The pit road speed thing works well. It is what it is. It's electronic. The way they check them and the tach's are not quite as accurate as a speedometer might be but the system works. It's just really devastating when you have one of the races of your life slip through your fingers. I don't blame him (Juan Pablo Montoya) for being upset. I think there may be an explanation for it on their end. I don't know. I've heard some things but I don't know."
LAST WEEKEND YOU CALLED (JIMMIE) JOHNSON SUPERMAN, WAS THAT SPECIFIC TO WHAT HAPPENED SUNDAY OR WAS THAT A GENERAL COMMENT AND WHY DID YOU CALL HIM THAT? "No I have actually called him that several times this year. I think I said that before we got our first win. Trying to beat that guy is like trying to beat superman. You know why, look at the results they get. From the sheer number of successes they've had to the incredible comebacks that just are almost beyond belief. They certainly rebound consistently better than anybody in the series for several years now. It was a sheer compliment."
TALK ABOUT FINISHING IN THE RUNNER-UP POSITION HERE SIX TIMES AND WHAT YOU'VE LEARNED SINCE THE LAST TIME WE WERE HERE. "This has been a good race track for me. A really good race track performance wise. It's one of those that has been a bit of a surprise that we haven't won at because we've run so well so many times. Out of all those races that we've been here, we've only had a very few dominating cars. We just had a lot of really good cars. We were dominating here at this race last year with the No. 8 car and didn't manage to close the deal based on some trouble that we had I think on pit road and some other times too back through the years. The thing we learned last time we were here was that we weren't happy with our set-up of our car. We're doing a little bit of different set-up stuff now, things that we've learned and used at Michigan and Chicago and Indy. We're going to apply that logic to the car and I'm pretty optimistic we'll have a strong effort come Sunday. We've been good but we needed to take a step from where we were last time here. So we're going to use a different thought process. A little bit more like what has been working for us more recently."
HOW DOES THIS SEASON COMPARE WITH THE REST OF YOUR CAREER AS FAR AS EXCITEMENT, YOUR ENERGY LEVEL AND HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE GAME? "You have to understand I can't relive 1998 or 1990 or any of those and those are sort of distant memories. This is the best to me to answer your question, the best ever. But I'm living the moment too. I'm living it every day. Certainly loving it and I never imagined that I could be having this much fun or having this much success or be this happy out here racing every week. I've got to give a lot of credit to Alan Gustafson (crew chief) and our race team for that, making it fun."
WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO STAY ON TOP OF YOUR GAME AS YOUR CAREER GOES ON? "I'm exploiting every strength, all my strengths to the max. Obviously I can't do a whole lot more with my short comings. So rather than focusing on my short comings right now I'm really focusing on my strengths. My training has been huge and nutrition, health and fitness has played a huge part in it but that's not all of it. Somehow or another I have managed to stay hungry and have the fire and desire that I had from the very start if not more fueled by the knowing. I can see somewhere out there the end of this and I want to make the most of it while I can. I'm having a blast."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT JUST HOW YOU AND ALAN (GUSTAFSON) HAVE GAINED TRUST IN EACH OTHER AND EACH WEEK IT JUST SEEMS YOU GUYS ARE GETTING BETTER AND BETTER? "We've just got to know each other. I think we did a great job in performing well and getting a lot out of our race cars, but we've just gotten more and more comfortable in figuring out how we can help one another be better and stronger and getting more out of our race cars from getting to know each other. Especially from me getting to know the Hendrick tools, tuning tools, getting to know their cars a little bit better. This team is incredible. Alan and the guys that back him up are so bright and we just keep figuring out how to apply all of that in just a little bit better and more efficient manner."
LOOKING BACK AT YOUR BEGINNINGS, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU LOST TIME COMING INTO NASCAR A LITTLE LATER? "Well I wouldn't be the person that I am today had I not gone through all those things. It scares me to think about achieving instant success like I did to start with. The first five races I ran I had two poles, a third and a seventh-place finish. Had that continued for me I certainly wouldn't be the man that I am today. The hardship, heartbreak, the humility, a very, very humbling experience ever getting here and a character building experience. The 19 years I spent with Jack Roush were important years in my career and I have absolutely no regrets."
EARLIER WHEN YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT COMPARING THE SEASONS YOU SAID THERE'S UNFINISHED BUSINESS, YOU'RE TRYING TO MAKE THE MOST OF THIS YEAR SEEING THAT THE END IS IN SITE AS FAR AS YOUR CAREER GOES, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN IN TRYING TO MAKE THE MOST OF WHAT TIME YOU HAVE LEFT? "First of all I don't think I said there was any unfinished business. I don't think I said that and I'm sorry if I implied that. I certainly didn't mean to imply that. What I mean is that when I was 35 years old I thought this would never end. In 1990 when we turned up second in the points and missed the championship by 26 points and we got a 46-point penalty it was no big deal because I knew there were going to be more. I could see no end to all this. At this stage in my career I understand that the opportunity for me to win four races in half a season there's probably not 20 more years of that. Are you starting to get the picture of what I was trying to say there? That's really what I was getting at. I understand that this won't last forever and this is the best it's ever been for me. I'm at the best place in my life mentally, physically, emotionally that I've ever been and by the way I'm having the most fun and getting as good of a result as I ever have if not better. So why wouldn't I? I'm willing to work as hard as it takes to continue that and to stay at the level that I'm at. Whether it's training, nutrition, having your head in the game, meetings, you name it. Whatever it takes I'm willing to do. I'm not trying to skate along here and ride this thing out. I'm all in. Everything I've got is in."
YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT THE HUNGER, HOW MUCH DOES THAT COME FROM THE TIME OFF FROM FULL-TIME COMPETITION? "It did a lot because you know in 2005 and 2006 I was really, really burned out and I was in a position emotionally and physically where I was drained. Although I still had great passion for racing it wasn't like it is now. I had a chance for two years where I took 24 weekends off and had a chance to do all the things I wanted to do and get rested. Now there's no place in the world I rather be this weekend than at Pocono. Whereas maybe two or three years ago I might have been thinking boy I wish I was on the beach somewhere. I don't know. That's basically the idea. That's pretty much where I'm at. I'm mentally the toughest I've ever been in my career right now. I think that also makes a difference. And your attitude has a lot to do with whether or not you're having fun. You can do the same thing with a good attitude and have a blast or you can have a bad attitude and do those same things and be miserable. So all those things are really working in my favor right now. I've got a good attitude."
-credit: gm racing