MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus (Qualified 3rd) PRESS CONFERENCE HOW WAS YOUR LAP? "Obviously I'm real happy with the lap. I got off to a little awkward start in turn two. I slipped a little bit and when the car caught it wasn't aimed ...
- No. 6 Viagra Taurus (Qualified 3rd)
HOW WAS YOUR LAP?
"Obviously I'm real happy with the lap. I got off to a little awkward start in turn two. I slipped a little bit and when the car caught it wasn't aimed exactly where I wanted it to be, but, overall, it was a great run. We picked up from practice, which most people slowed down or stayed the same. We picked up almost half-a-second, so it's a great run. It's great for the salute tour. We gave our fans something else to cheer about and hopefully we can do the same on Sunday. I'm really, really lucky to be driving for this team."
YOU RUN WELL HERE ALL THE TIME.
"All these races are hard to win. I'm gonna go into this thing with everything we have. Pat Tryson and the whole Viagra team are at the top of their game right now, so we're gonna give it everything we've got and we'll see how it shakes out on Sunday."
WERE YOU NERVOUS DURING QUALIFYING?
"I wasn't nervous watching the other qualifying. I've been doing this stuff a long time. I knew Jeff Gordon would beat us. I thought a few others would. I knew it was gonna be a great starting spot. It was a great lap. It's a fantastic car they gave me to qualify with and I got a real nice lap, but I was not nervous after qualifying. Certainly I was nervous beforehand because if you slip off the race track as my friend Biffle did today qualifying, it makes your Sunday very, very difficult. I've done that before and had that pressure on me today to not do that. We've got our eye on the target here and that is to make the chase and this was one of the bullets we needed to dodge today and then we need to come out of here Sunday with a great run and then go onto Daytona and get through that without being caught up in one of those big wrecks. If we can do that, then we'll be on our way."
DO YOU JUST SHAKE YOUR HEAD WITH JEFF GORDON'S SUCCESS HERE?
"Jeff Gordon is a whale of a race car driver, but everybody in the garage knows that car is incredible. It drives the teams crazy, but it is what it is. Not taking any credit away from Jeff Gordon, but he clobbers everybody with it. That's just the way it is and I think all the teams know that. Everybody is trying to figure it out and it looks like we might be closer than we were last year."
DO YOU HAVE A SIMILAR SETUP WITH YOUR TEAMMATES?
"Biffle doesn't have a setup anything quite like what we've got. The 97 and the 6 are probably closer than the rest of 'em. We're probably a little closer to the 97, but, certainly, if you looked at it you would say we didn't have the same setup. We have different shocks. We have different springs. They might be similar, but they're definitely different."
YOU'VE STARTED FROM THE BACK BEFORE.
"That's right and also I ran off once qualifying - I ran off the track once -- so I've actually started in the back twice here. It's very difficult, but those guys are up to the task and they will have a great day on Sunday I'm sure."
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO COME FROM THE BACK? ERNIE IRVAN DID IT ONCE.
"I'm sure they took passing zones since Ernie did that. It can still be done. It would probably be more likely for the 24 to be able to do it than most of the rest of us. He is an incredible race car driver, but I'll say again - that car is just fast. I mean, it just really, really works. You can take the same driver and put him in a car that doesn't work and he just can't quite get the same job done on the race track. All of these guys are great race car drivers in the garage and every team is working to try to make their car work as good or better than that 24."
IT SEEMS LIKE HAVING MORE FUN IS HELPING YOU DO BETTER. IS THAT TRUE?
"I'm so sorry to say that the reason I'm having fun is because my car is running so good and that's pitiful. I should be a better man than that. I should, and that's been one of my frustrations in 2003. I shouldn't let the performance of my car dictate how I feel about my self-esteem and my self-value and all of those things. Obviously, that's a challenge for me and I'm having a ball because I'm driving great race cars and I know this is the last go-round. That makes it fun for me."