MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed Alan Gustafson contract extension, Darlington, young drivers and other topics. DOES ALAN GUSTAFSON CONTRACT...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM/GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed Alan Gustafson contract extension, Darlington, young drivers and other topics.
DOES ALAN GUSTAFSON CONTRACT EXTENSION IMPACT YOUR FUTURE AT ALL? "It doesn't. You know, Alan is a lifer at Hendrick Motorsports. I'm certain of that, I'm just sure of that. I know Alan and I know how he feels and I know Rick and I know how he feels. So, the paperwork is just paperwork."
JIMMIE (JOHNSON) AND JEFF (GORDON) ARE HAVING A LITTLE TIFF, WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF IT? "I don't make a lot of it. I understand why the media is making something of it because they need something fun and exciting to dig on. But, it is all about two guys who are fighting for wins. It wouldn't matter if they are teammates or not. There would be, from time-to-time there is going to be a little bit of conflict. They will handle it fine. Jeff has been a potential winner the last three races and hadn't managed to be fortunate enough to pull it off. They keep running like that, they will get their win."
A RACING PHILOSOPHY QUESTION, WHY IS IT THAT AT SHORT TRACKS IT IS THE ACCEPTED PRACTICE TO KNOCK A GUY OUT OF THE WAY TO WIN BUT YOU DON'T GET THAT HERE? "I don't know. I only know that for me, the respect and the magnitude makes a difference. When you are doing something for fun versus when you are doing it and everything is on the line. Everything. From corporate America all the way down to hundreds of people that work on your race cars. You just have to respect all of that rather than being out having a little fun where really it doesn't matter as much. That may or may not be right, that is just my thought on it."
DO YOU BELIEVE IN LUCK, THAT YOU MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK? "You know, meteorites do hit the Earth. It would be unlucky if one hit you. Right? You couldn't say you make your own luck. There are certain things that you don't have control over and you can call it what you want. But things that you don't have control over, you don't have control over. Sometimes a lot of those things get you and sometimes none of those things get you for good periods of time. So call it what you want."
WHAT DID IT MEAN FOR YOU TO HAVE THE RUN YOU HAD AT DARLINGTON LAST YEAR AT THAT TRACK IN PARTICULAR? "It didn't mean to me in particular about Darlington, I just like winning. I don't care if it is one of the toughest race tracks or races or whatever. Man, you don't get to chose these things, you just go take the ones you can get and be happy. That's kind of how I felt about it. I don't feel particularly more proud of winning Darlington than I did Michigan or Phoenix or Chicago or any of the others."
SO YOU DON'T HAVE A GREATER SENSE OF PRIDE KNOWING THAT IT IS A LITTLE TOUGHER TO WIN THERE? "No, I mean if it was the only race I won in my career, I only got to win one, Darlington might be kind of up on top of the list but I would still feel the same way. I don't care where it is as long as I get to win one. That is how I feel about it. It was cool to win there. It had been so long since we'd won the Southern 500 that most people didn't know I had won one. It is kind of cool."
WHAT DID IT MEAN TO YOUR TEAM TO WIN THAT ONE AND SET THE MOMENTUM IN MOTION? "Well that was our second win in a short span so it was really really nice. It was a great team effort by Alan and everybody on the No. 5 team and it was cool. It was good."
WHY DO TEMPERS FLARE SO MUCH MORE ON LOCAL SHORT TRACKS? "There are a lot of things involved there. First you have to consider that wasn't live national television. It wasn't necessarily completely reliant on corporate America. There's a lot of things that go in to that. The feelings aren't any different, it is just how you deal with them. On a more professional level as you move up in your profession, you usually learn how to handle things in a more professional manner. Something that is a little bit more appropriate for the circumstances. Circumstances of coverage and the impact that it has on sponsors and people. Everything."
DO THESE LITTLE CONTROVERSIES LIKE THIS ONE BETWEEN GORDON AND JOHNSON A BENEFIT TO NASCAR? "They are a benefit to the sport itself because it stirs up interest and fan...it gets their blood pumping. I don't know how to just say it. It spurs emotion in the fans."
DOES IT MAKE IT MORE INTERESTING FOR THEM TO WATCH ON TV OR AT THE RACES? "I'm sure you are more interested. That is part of it. You won't have that all the time. But, from time-to-time you have that. That is part of the sport. It is part of what we do."
HOW DO YOU WANT YOUNG UPCOMING DRIVERS TO RACE YOU? "I expect them to respect the people that have been there before and to learn from them and to earn their respect of veterans through hard work, determination and skill."
DO THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO RACE YOU JUST AS HARD AS ANYBODY ELSE? "They have the right to race you hard. There is a difference between racing you hard and stupid. There is a difference in that. I wouldn't expect them to race less hard, I would just hope they would race smart and sometimes it is hard to race real smart when you haven't been in that situation before. So you have to understand that you learn as you go and that Cup racing is different than racing on lower levels of the sport and it takes time to really get that and get it. Everybody is new at this that comes in at some point in time. I don't know who or what any young drivers are talking about when they say they are being disrespected or treated wrong. I don't see that. I just see the need for more time so that you get it. You understand how this thing flows. Everybody was new at this. Tony Stewart was new at this. Jeff Gordon was new at this. Jimmie Johnson was new at this. Everybody was new at this that was in the sport right now at one time and it took them time to really get it. To understand how this racing is versus maybe how the racing was that they did before they came here."
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE RACING SMART VERSUS RACING STUPID? "I don't know. I'm not that analytical. I'm just a race car driver. I don't want to be put in jeopardy by someone thinking that they are racing you hard when they put themselves in jeopardy which also puts you in jeopardy. Race hard man, that is what you are supposed to do. Everybody is supposed to do that. You just have to race smart. You have to respect and understand that it takes a while to understand where the edge is and how you deal with that edge all the time. We race 100% of the time on the edge out there on the race track because the veterans know where that edge is and how to flirt with that. When you have less experience, you don't know that edge and you go over it some and everyone in the sport understands that and has compassion for those guys. But, you still need to try...when I came in; I tried to err on the safe side of things until I got the hang of it."
-source: gm racing