Sears Point: Martin - Ford Friday interview

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, is fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings going into this weekend's race. Martin, who won this race in 1997, spoke about the challenges road course racing offers prior to practice...

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, is fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series point standings going into this weekend's race. Martin, who won this race in 1997, spoke about the challenges road course racing offers prior to practice on Friday.


"I don't think more than ovals. I never did heel and toe downshift anyway, even before we did Jerichos (transmission). I downshifted the same way I do now, so that hasn't changed for me. Technically speaking I think it's about the same as the ovals as far as the advancements. There have been a lot of advancements in shock technology and things, but we've seen that everywhere."

HOW WILL THE HEAT TREAT YOU GUYS INSIDE THE CAR THIS WEEKEND? "It won't be nice to them and it won't be nice to us either. It's been hot out here before and made for a really tough race, especially if the red flag it, which I hope we don't have. That's the worst. It's brutal for the drivers if they red flag it."

THERE ARE ONLY FOUR GUYS IN THIS RACE WHO HAVE EVER WON IT BEFORE. WHAT MAKES A GOOD ROAD RACER? "I grew up in Arkansas driving on the dirt roads -- hilly and turning dirt roads -- the same thing as this -- and I did a lot of driving as fast as I could go and stay out of the ditch. That's all I do here. It's the same thing."

YOU DO A LOT WITH AAA AND TEEN SAFETY. "Yeah, not only the teen driving safety program but also child like safety seats and stuff like that -- child passenger safety as well. We're working on that quite a bit and I'm really pleased and excited to be working on something so important. It's probably been the highlight of 2006 for me and I'm having a lot of fun with it."

IT DOESN'T SEEM LIKE KIDS HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE SAME TYPE OF TRAINING AS YEARS AGO, DO YOU AGREE? "I don't know if I agree with that. I think it's a lot tougher today than it used to be to get a driver's license. They have the graduated driver's license now and they're working more on that in more states to restrict teens, curfews and the number of teens that can be in a car -- those kind of things. It's all real important work."

HALF OF THE TOP 16 DRIVERS ARE FROM WESTERN STATES. WHY IS THAT? "Because they're good. The best are working their way into the series no matter where they're front. The best are working their way in."

ARE THERE PEOPLE WHO ARE BEAT BEFORE THEY GET THROUGH THE GATES HERE TO A DEGREE? "Not me (laughing). I don't know. Attitude does have a little bit to do with it, but some of these guys that don't have the best attitude if they climbed in the best car, their attitude would change. So, yeah, attitude from a driver will make a difference. Attitude from a team will make a difference. At the end of the day, there are very few that can carry a poor driver or a poor car to a great finish here or a great showing, so it really takes all of that. But a good car will do wonders for a guy's confidence."

WHEN YOU'VE GOT A GOOD CAR IS THE HARDEST THING HERE TO STAY PATIENT AND NOT TRY TO GO TOO HARD TOO FAST? "I think more than that even is know your limits. On an oval knowing your limits is sort of confined. There is only so much in that area. Here there is everywhere. Knowing your limits on braking, knowing your limits on downshifting, knowing your limits on every part of the course, knowing your limits on how far you can stick a tire off the course and not get in trouble. There are so many more opportunities to mess your weekend up here than there are at an oval, so I think it's even more in knowing your limitations than it is patience, but it does take a great amount of patience as well."

HERE THERE AREN'T A LOT OF PLACES TO REST. "And every place is different on the race track at a lot of turns because you don't make that turn as many times, you don't make as many laps. You do turn one at Pocono every lap and you do it for a lap. It takes longer and you do less laps here and you have a dozen different turns to mess with that do different things, so the window of opportunity for messing up is greater here and bigger here."

IN 10 WEEKS THE CHASE STARTS. WHAT ARE YOU DOING AS A TEAM TO TRY AND GET SOME MOMENTUM? "We're just trying to get our pit stops strong on pit road and keep our race car sharp."

ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING DIFFERENT THAN THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS TO WIN THE TITLE? "No, we tried as hard as we could then and we're still trying as hard as we can. That's all you can do is try as hard as you can."

-ford racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mark Martin