MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed racing and fans at Texas Motor Speedway, his wreck at Talladega, Jimmie Johnson, the transitions in the track here at Texas and ...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Texas Motor Speedway and discussed racing and fans at Texas Motor Speedway, his wreck at Talladega, Jimmie Johnson, the transitions in the track here at Texas and other topics.
TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK RACING HERE AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: "This is a great facility in a great location. Great part of the country to come to not only because of the tremendous facility, but because the fans support it in such an incredible way. The fan support here not only with numbers but with enthusiasm is overwhelming."
WHEN YOU LOOK BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, CAN YOU RELATE TO WHO YOU WERE WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED HERE? "It is a good point. It brings up some odd memories. One of them certainly was that I was too young. Back then, they didn't want any young drivers. Jeff Gordon really was the one that changed all of that. Before that, they weren't looking for young talented drivers; they were looking for the experienced ones. A lot of differences though. But there are some similarities in the fact that, I was not a preferred driver; I wasn't in high-demand and not in a high-demand category now based on my age. But, we're doing it. We were doing it then and we are doing it now. There are similarities and there are some vast differences. Back then, we were certainly struggling for the finances to do this and we are certainly in a better position now than we were then."
COMING OFF OF TALLADEGA, IS YOUR HEART BROKEN TO REALIZE YOU ARE IN ANOTHER UPHILL CLIMB FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP? "Definitely no heartbreak whatsoever. But Talladega did rub because I would rather get beat then turn over, you know what I mean? I want to go down racing and not like that. But you know what, we raced. We raced all day. We raced like we just couldn't be in a wreck. I was in one I didn't even see. I never even knew I was going to be in that wreck until I was turning over. So...what the hay. Obviously, the performance of the No. 48 has been phenomenal and we have given it a good fight, but we haven't quite matched their performance, although we gave him a pretty good run until Martinsville and Charlotte. That is all we can do. Certainly, I wasn't BS'ing you guys; I didn't take this job to go try and get a championship trophy. I took this job, you know why, and doggone, it has worked out pretty good. We have been in a position; it still could happen the race is still on for the top-six positions. We are going to race. I can't wait! I can't wait to get on the track here at Texas; it is going to be awesome. I hope that answers your question. It certainly doesn't break my heart; it was a rub at Talladega. I would rather go down fighting than flipping."
HAVE YOU TRIED TO DISSECT AND FORM A THEORY AS TO WHY THE CARS ARE FLIPPING? "My car turned over so fast, it makes me wonder if the nose of the No. 1 car didn't go under the rear frame rail behind the rear tire and tip my car over. I know they do tend to turn over when they go sideways that way because they are heavy left side. They tend to go over; all cars always have a little bit.
"But this thing went so fast and it didn't feel like it just kind of went up. It felt like it was shot over so I'm not sure why it went over like it. Newman's crash was not atypical of the past 15 years as far as his car going up. I don't know if there is any phenomenon whatsoever about a wing with a car backwards or not. But, I went up like that and just didn't quite have the ride that he had in the early 90s' back there. Way back at the exit of (turn) two, not the entry of three. I really feel like from reading everything and listening to everyone, I feel like what happened there in some ways was sensationalized and just blown way out of proportion. It was a horrible wreck that Ryan (Newman) had to go through and it was a horrible thing, we need to try and fix that. But that was not different than what we have seen for a good solid 15 years if not more. It is really hard to stop the cars from doing that when they get around like that. I think that we need to work on it, but we did keep the cars out of the grandstands.
"I don't believe that was a boring race. I didn't like it but I certainly think it has been blown completely out of proportion that the cars got single-file for a while in the race. When I finished 15 years ago, it was me, (Dale, Sr.) Earnhardt, Ernie (Irvan) and one other car was in the lead draft. That was all. No one complained that was a boring race, it was just Talladega. No one said anything. Now we have 40 (cars) nose to tail and that is a problem? For me, I am just a little confused about everything that I have read and listened to this week. I just don't know what to say."
IT HAS BEEN 20 RACES SINCE THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS STARTED, WHAT HAS IT CHANGED OR TRANSFORMED THINGS AND HAS IT HAD AS BIG OF AN IMPACT AS THEY THOUGHT IT MIGHT? "It has not as big of impact as I expected. I dreaded it with a passion. It has worked for me in the car on the race track, it has worked ok. I've had some real winner restarts and a few real loser restarts but for the most part, it has been gained one, lose one, back and forth. I think it is ok. I am surprised. I really didn't think I was going to like it very much. I am not saying I love it, but I am certainly fine with it."
YOU HAVE SAID THAT JIMMIE JOHNSON WORKS HARDER THAN ANY DRIVER IN THE GARAGE, IS THERE A WAY FOR YOU TO QUANTIFY THAT? "I can't quantify that because you are talking to a guy who doesn't really know what he is talking about because I am not really, I don't follow Carl Edwards around. I don't really really know, I guess what I was saying was that he (Johnson) than anyone that I have seen from studying this sport to making notes after every race. To reviewing notes before (every race). To nutrition. To physical fitness to commitment to the sport has been surprising to me. I was one of those like many others from the outside looking in, looking at Jimmie Johnson making it look easy thinking he was a lucky guy that drove for a great race team. I'm taking that back now. I've seen different and one of the guys that is standing up saying 'Hey, he's not getting enough credit.'
ABOUT TRANSITIONS AT TMS BEING TIGHT AT TURNS TWO GOING INTO TURN THREE AND WHERE DO YOU FEEL MOST COMFORTABLE AT THIS TRACK? "Boy I wish I would drive high, but I won't because if I do, I will hit the wall. So I am most comfortable and 99% of the time expected to be on the white line the whole time although the high grove gets to working and the middle grove can work. And every once in a while I might find myself looking for something up off the bottom, but for me I have spend 35 years working the bottom and I am still better at that, than riding the wall.
YOU SAID YOU WERE NOT DISAPPOINTED OR ASHAMED TO HAVE FINSIHED SECOND TO SOME OF THE GREATEST DRIVERS IN THIS SPORT AND THAT IF YOU FINISH SECOND TO JIMMIE YOU WILL FEEL THE SAME WAY. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT HAS DEVELOPED AS YOUR CAREER HAS MOVED ON? "You know, actually the 1989 season was overlooked. We were second in points going into the last race in our second year with Roush Racing and the engine blew up and caught on fire and we finished third. And that was as disappointing to me as..............you know it didn't disappoint the team I don't think all that much because they thought they were going for it but for me I wanted to be second and not third. And then the next year we led from May until the next to last race and I thought I could beat Earnhardt...........and as it turned out, I was wrong. And that was the one that I wanted to win and probably the most of all when I was young and when it looked like we were going to. (laughs)
"And since then, I have learned a lot and I have seen a lot and I have come to realize that I'm no Dale Earnhardt. My record don't stand up to his............just doesn't. And when you stand me up against Jeff Gordon........it just don't stand up to it man. I understand that. And we have beat them but it was always somebody else that beat us you know? So I think its pretty awesome to hold my own against guys like that in the sport. I gave them something to shoot at in the race from time to time. I gave their fans something to be concerned about and I gave mine something to cheer about. And my record just don't stand up against theirs. Its just that plain and simple. Tony Stewart's either. And those are the three guys that I have run second to and most of those guys have finished behind me on any given year. That is where I am at man. I don't think I am better than all those guys, I am just glad I can get out there and beat them once in a while. If I couldn't, it might not be as appealing to me."
YOU HAVE WON HERE BEFORE AND CAN YOU TALK A BIT ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THIS TRACK "Well just the chance to be able to come to an intermediate race track with Alan and the five team is always exciting and we were ready after Martinsville and Talladega to come here and do this thing and hope that we get the kind of performance we really expect to. Its going to be fun and a blast and this race track is great for Sprint Cup racing and it's a great venue and great place so I can't wait to go get in the car here shortly.
WHAT IS TOUGH ABOUT THIS TRACK? "It poses the same kind of problem than any other one because if you want to win you have to go through the corners faster than anyone else and that is a challenge because these corners are a little bit flat on the exit, a little flat on the entry and good banking in the center and you have to figure out a way to make your car roll through there faster than everybody else."
-credit: gm racing