MARK MARTIN, NO. O1 U.S. ARMY MONTE CARLO SS MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA AT POCONO RACEWAY TO DISCUSS HIS PART-TIME SCHEDULE, RACING AT POCONO AND OTHER SUBJECTS. ON THE POCONO RACE TRACK: "I've always loved this race track. It's one of the...
MARK MARTIN, NO. O1 U.S. ARMY MONTE CARLO SS MET WITH MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA AT POCONO RACEWAY TO DISCUSS HIS PART-TIME SCHEDULE, RACING AT POCONO AND OTHER SUBJECTS.
ON THE POCONO RACE TRACK: "I've always loved this race track. It's one of the best places we go to race at. And you just set the car up to go as fast as you can through all the turns."
DO YOU LIKE SHIFTING BETTER THAN THE WAY IT IS NOW? "It's okay the way it is now. Shifting kept you a little busier, but it's all about racing. So if nobody is shifting, then it's the same for everyone."
DO YOU LIKE THE MICHIGAN TRACK? "Yeah, that's why it's on my schedule. I love Michigan."
HOW MUCH FUN ARE YOU HAVING THIS YEAR WITH YOUR NEW SCHEDULE? "It's a dream come true. You know, the stars just had to lineup just perfectly for this to work out for me and the Army and Ginn Racing. I don't know what would have happened sooner in my career or a little later - it would have been too late. So I've got the best gig in NASCAR."
ON THE NASCAR PENALTY HANDED DOWN TO KURT BUSCH: "That's not for me to say. That's them, not me. I'm a driver."
WERE YOU SURPRISED? "Not really. That's what they (NASCAR) do. I try to abide by the rules. I don't make them."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BILL FRANCE JR? "I have a lot of memories of him. When I came on board, he was already in place. So I really didn't know his dad that well. But certainly the state of NASCAR today has everything to do with what his drive and vision and the kind of person he was. I disagreed with a number of decisions he made. But at the end of the day, way more often he was right and I was wrong. So if I was in charge, we wouldn't have what we have here today."
AS WE GET CLOSER TO THE CHASE, AND IF YOU'RE CLOSE TO MAKING IT, WILL YOU CHANGE YOUR SCHEDULE TO TRY TO MAKE IT? "Nah, I'm good. I'm set."
YOU LIKE THE WAY IT'S GOING? "Yeah. I'm thrilled."
HAVE YOU HAD ANY FEEDBACK FROM OTHER DRIVERS YOUR AGE THAT THIS MIGHT BE THE WAY TO GO DOWN THE LINE? "This is a unique opportunity. It's not the easiest situation to put together, but we have it going on here. So we're sort of the model for that right now."
IS IT DIFFICULT TO RACE ONE WEEKEND AND THEN MISS A WEEKEND? DO YOU LOSE RHYTHM? "Certainly not. I've been racing for 35 years. I don't need any more time (laughs). I'm just lucky to be driving great cars. And that's what's really important."
IS THERE ANY TEMPTATION TO CHANGE YOUR SCHEDULE? "No."
YOU ADDED THE SECOND POCONO. WAS BEING SIX TIMES A BRIDESMAID A FACTOR? "No. I always wanted to run the second Pocono race. When we laid out the schedule and started marking numbers off the list, I had a number that I was shooting for and I had to cut some races to get to that number. And then when we got into this thing and I had the flexibility to do what I wanted to do that I knocked off the list."
WERE YOU SURPRISED BY THE PERFORMANCE OF THE NO. O1 ENTRY AND HOW WELL IT'S DOING THIS YEAR? "I'm pleased (laughter). It's an outstanding accomplishment by a team that I have come to know as equal or on par with the best in the garage."
HOW DID THEY GET THERE SO QUICKLY? "They were there at times. This team has not turned over a lot. They were there at times with Joe (Nemechek) and with (Jerry) Nadeau. They had the rug pulled out from them a number of times with Ernie (Irwin) getting hurt and Jerry Nadeau getting hurt. They were really fast with Mike Skinner at times. The only thing they were ever really missing was consistency."
AND HOW DID THEY GET THAT? "I don't know. It just happened."
CAN YOU CHANGE YOUR SCHEDULE IF YOU WANT TO? "Yeah, I can if I want to. If I decided I did, I'd still have flexibility."
DO YOU WANT TO RACE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "No, I don't even want to. So if I was leading, like I was when I missed my first race, I still wouldn't. I don't want to."
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY ABOUT YOUR PART-TIME SCHEDULE? "Being off."
BUT YOU ALSO ENJOY BEING AT THE RACE TRACK? "Yeah, but this is overkill. The schedule they have today is overkill - especially after you've done it for 20 years. I'm very interested in moving on with my life without having to give up on part of the best part of my life and still be a part of that and move on with my own life."
IF YOU ARE IN THE TOP 12, WHAT HAPPENS WITH THAT? "I won't be."
DO YOU LIKE DIRT TRACK RACING? "Oh, yeah, it's fun. A lot of us got our start there. It's grassroots racing - like going Truck racing."
-credit: gm racing