MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET met with media and discussed the upcoming races at Richmond and Charlotte, restrictor plate racing at Talladega, how racing has changed during his career in the sport, and more. GIVE US YOUR OUTLOOK FOR...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET met with media and discussed the upcoming races at Richmond and Charlotte, restrictor plate racing at Talladega, how racing has changed during his career in the sport, and more.
GIVE US YOUR OUTLOOK FOR SUNDAY'S RACE IN TALLADEGA "You know, I'm trying not to think about it (laughs). The last several years I've been here, I don't think it pays to even think about it. We'll just go out here and do the thing and not worry about it and not be concerned about it. The last time I came here I was sure that I wouldn't be in a wreck; but I think I turned over (laughter). First time ever in my career. I certainly don't want to turn over again. I'm not going to think about it. I'm just going to go out here and see what happens. The racing has changed so much here over the years that it certainly doesn't really matter. Everybody's car is fast enough. Back in the day, only about 20 percent of the field was fast enough to be a contender. Nowadays, everybody is fast enough. It just all matters what goes down at the end. So I don't really care so much how my car runs. I just want to be lucky."
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT RICHMOND? WHAT MAKES IT UNIQUE? IS IT SORT OF LIKE A SHORT TRACK AND A BIG TRACK? "I think it's a favorite of the fans as well as the drivers. It's big enough that you can get out there and put a lot of cars out there. It's also got great racing room on it the way the transitions and the banking and just the way it runs. You can run multiple lines around the race track and it's some of the best racing that we do all year. It's fun. It's just fun to race there."
LOOKING AHEAD TO THE ALL-STAR RACE, DO YOU APPROACH THAT ONE DIFFERENTLY? "The approach is different because the race is different because the length is different and the format is different. I don't approach it differently because of any other thing other than it takes different things to be in position there than it would a 600-mile race. You have a different mindset and a different way that you approach that kind of race. The only thing about this race, which it still matters to me the same, is that it doesn't have points. But if I don't do well in it, it bothers me the same as if I don't do well in a points race. But there is something to all that. At the end of the day you can tell yourself, well, it was all in or nothing. You might look at that race as all or nothing. I don't. I ran third there I think in the No. 8 car and enjoyed that. It was right there. I was almost able to contend for the win. So, I still take pride in racing for a position there and getting the most out of your effort. But a lot of drivers do have a little bit of that weighing in on them. It's a non-points event. It's sort of a winner take all. There is still pride left in being a contender if you don't take it all."
AS YOU GET OLDER, DO YOU FIND YOURSELF MEASURING YOUR SUCCESS MORE AGAINST WHAT YOU'RE CAPABLE OF AND LESS AGAINST WHAT OTHER PEOPLE DO? IN OTHER WORDS, IF YOU GOT A 3RD PLACE IN WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A 10TH PLACE CAR, WILL THAT GIVE YOU AS MUCH SATISFACTION AS MAYBE A WIN MIGHT HAVE SOME YEARS AGO? "That's a good point. It probably does more now than it did back in the day. It felt like a little bit more like it was all or nothing; a little bit. I just think that even more than that, the more experience you get, which only can come with time or age, that the more realistic at least I have become. I see and understand things better now than I did 20 years ago. And I appreciate things certainly more than I did 20 years ago, without question. So if I take a 10th place car and run third with it, I probably appreciate it more today than I did 20 years ago. Twenty years ago I would have focused on why my car was a 10th place car. Why is it not a first-place car; and let that bother me where I might today think we did a good job today. Oh, by the way, we need to get better. But I wouldn't solely focus on why was our car so bad today? (laughs).
"I think I understand things better now. For me, when I look at a performance today versus 20 or 25 years ago, I didn't know what I could do 25 years ago for sure. And everything looked different through those eyes than things look today. They look different through these eyes because these eyes have been maybe cleared up. I feel like I see things clearer now. I saw things clear back then but that was tunnel vision. I think I see a broader picture of things today."
DO YOU FEEL THE SAME ABOUT DAYTONA AS YOU DO TALLADEGA? OR, IS IT JUST THIS TRACK IN PARTICULAR? "Well, when they repave Daytona it's going to fall closer into this category, which is coming somewhere down the line inevitably. The cars have just gotten faster and faster here so we've had to restrict them more and more here. And that's a fact of life. You have to restrict them. We have to keep down at the speed that we need to to keep the fans safe. And as you restrict them, the race changes and it becomes less and less like it used to be and more and more like a parade or whatever. I've raced for a long, long time. I didn't start parading early in my career. I started parading late in my career. This race track is so huge and so smooth and so good and the cars are restricted to the point to where the race is so much different that it's not like the kind of racing that you do where you go and you try to figure out how to make the fastest car....
"I remember coming here in the nineties and I was disappointed if I qualified 30th because I thought I probably couldn't win with a car that slow. Well, you qualify 30th here and you are absolutely guaranteed to have a chance to win if you're lucky, you know. So it changes things. And I don't know how to explain that to you more than that. It changes things and I kind of like the ingenuity into working on the car to make it go faster than other people's, having the latitude to do that, and then being in a situation where you can out-fox people. We won this race; I don't know what year, '97 or whatever year it was. Well, we ran real, real high rebound shocks. The garage qualified on them, but no one would race them. And our car was slow in practice and I'd had it. So I said, 'Put them qualifying shocks on there.' And it was fast and we just took a chance and race them and just killed everybody. I felt so proud of that because we figured out how to beat people with speed with our car. I don't know how to do that anymore. The race is great to watch, but from a racer's standpoint I'd rather be able to sit in that garage and me and Alan (Gustafson) and say, we'll let's do that to the car. And no one else (would) have the balls to do that and it would be so much better that you won the race. That's a thrill."
THE NFL DRAFT IS HERE YESTERDAY, TODAY AND TOMORROW AND WE'RE GOING TO LEARN A LOT ABOUT THOSE BIG CONTRACTS THOSE PLAYERS ARE GOING TO SIGN WITH THOSE TEAMS. WHY DO YOU THINK NASCAR DRIVERS AND TEAMS ARE MUCH QUIETER ABOUT THEIR DEALS? "Things are so much different. First of all, like it costs so much money, and incredible amount of money to operate a race team so that a driver can race; especially to race and have a chance to win. So that just moves the pay scale so differently. I don't think you can compare. I don't think race car drivers get paid anywhere near what athletes like that get and sometimes I don't understand how they can get paid so much money. But it is what it is. This is a different sport than that kind of sport."
BUT THINGS SEEM SO MUCH CLOSER TO THE VEST AND NOBODY WANTS TO STEP OUT AND SAY WHAT HIS PACKAGE IS "I don't know how those guys let their stuff get out but I think it's pretty common. You really don't want to tell us what you make. You know what I'm saying. I think it's fairly much nature to not go around with a flashing light saying how much you make at your job. I see a NASCAR driver the same as anyone else in their job.
"That's just a private matter. And it's not private in those sports and I don't understand why but then I don't pay any attention to those sports either."
CAN YOU GIVE ME YOUR PERSPECTIVE OF THE GROWTH THAT YOU'VE SEEN IN THOSE CONTRACTS? "Yeah, it's amazing. In the '80's I made about 10 percent of where it went at its peak. And I also think it's on its way back down to be honest with you. Obviously we all feel the crunch. Everybody's feeling the crunch. We have to shrink a little bit. So I think that race drivers' pay is going to be seeing shrinkage as well as everybody else's. That's how it is."
ON YOUR FUTURE, HAS ANYBODY GIVEN YOU A PHONE CALL OR MADE YOU OFFERS FOR 2012? ANYBODY IN THE GARAGE AREA WOULD WANT TO HIRE MARK MARTIN. HAVE YOU THOUGHT ANY MORE ABOUT THAT? "Yeah, that did stir up some stuff just letting that little out did stir some things up. I'm just having the time of my life since 2007 when I decided to get out and do something different. And it's all in fun. The most important thing is getting to go to the race track and work with Alan (Gustafson) and those guys on the No. 5 team; they're incredible. And we'll so that for a good while yet. We'll see. I do want to stay involved in racing.
"There was a time prior to 2007 when I thought maybe I would like to go crawl under a rock or something. (But) this is my life. I've done it for over 35 years and the people in the sport. This is my life. I'm going to be around for a while and it's a long time away and we'll see what happens."
A FEW YEARS AGO WHEN YOU WON THE ALL-STAR RACE AND WE ASKED THE NORMAL QUESTION ABOUT THE WORLD'S SHORTEST RACE TO THE WORLD'S LONGEST RACE AND YOU SAID THERE'S NOT GOING TO BE ANY DIFFERENCE ANYMORE. IT'S GOING TO BE 600 MILES OF RACES THE SAME STYLE. IT WAS TRUE THEN, BUT IT'S NOT TRUE NOW. WHAT HAS CHANGED? "I don't know. It's amazing how things do change and cycle around. The racing on the race track has changed in ways. In some ways we don't wreck the cars as much as we did four years ago. But then on the other hand, some crazy things do happen. The racing has changed so much and part of that is because 40 cars are almost all the same speed. And now when the green flag comes out on the start or any restart, you have to fight for your position just like you would at the end of the race. And so from a drivers' standpoint, it's more intense than it's ever been since I started driving in my whole career. Lap one and every single restart is like a green-white-checkered. You have to fight for your position because if you let one guy get by you, then you get going better you will regret it because it's really hard to pass them because you're not four-tenths of a second faster, you're four one-hundredths of a second faster and that's not enough to drive around the guy. So, this is evolution just like everything else and NASCAR has evolved to 40 cars that are so close in measure that the racing has changed and I don't see it ever changing back to a more comfortable style of racing."
-source: gm racing