MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET met with media and discussed Kasey Kahne signing with HMS, his future involvement in the sport, and more. ON KASEY KAHNE SIGNING WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS "I'm excited, man. This is the absolute best ...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET met with media and discussed Kasey Kahne signing with HMS, his future involvement in the sport, and more.
ON KASEY KAHNE SIGNING WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS "I'm excited, man. This is the absolute best scenario. I'm really, really excited. I'm so psyched about it and so relieved that we can go on and work on racing and not worry about Hendrick Motorsports and my team and everything else and what the future is. We know its set. It's a perfect scenario. Kasey Kahne is a really right fit for this organization."
ARE YOU STILL SET THROUGH 2011? "You know that. I don't know why you had to ask that."
WOULD YOU CONSIDER GETTING OUT OF THE CAR BEFORE 2011? "If I did, I wouldn't be driving it. So, no; I'm not sure why you don't understand. It's not clear to me why you don't understand. Those guys wanted me to drive it for 2012. It was a little bit stretched to do one full-time season. I gave them three. It's been the gift of my career that Hendrick Motorsports has given me. One of my biggest concerns has been who is going to be the successor so that I didn't knock them out of getting the very best A-number-one fit. That's why I started talking to Kasey Kahne before anybody, in September of last year; because I do have some real good buddies: Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth. But since they wouldn't talk to me seriously and had to keep making jokes and cutting up, I mean, Kasey Kahne was the guy. And the timing wasn't exactly right but I wanted to make sure that he considered it because it's the perfect scenario for Kasey Kahne and it's the perfect scenario for Hendrick Motorsports. I figure three years is enough.
"I would appreciate it if no one would right anything about me retiring, because I'm not going to retire. I'm going to race in 2012. And so don't even talk about it. I'm racing in 2012. There will be an opportunity for me I'm sure, that will be exciting and fun and that I can help people. I feel like I've done that. I feel like I did that in the No. 01 at DEI and I feel like I've helped the No. 5 team realize that they can win races and contend for a championship. And so I'll find another opportunity that's exciting to me and I don't want to commit to that now. I want to make sure that Hendrick is set and they are set. It's such an incredibly perfect scenario."
WILL YOU BE BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THE NO. 5 IN 2011? "I'm going to race in 2012."
I'M ASKING YOU IN BLACK AND WHITE, ARE YOU GOING TO BE BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THE NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET? "Of course."
IS YOUR LEGACY THEN, TO LEAVE A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM FOR SOMEONE ELSE; THAT THAT MIGHT BE YOUR LEGACY LOOKING FORWARD? YOU CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR OTHERS THAT YOU LEAVE SOME THAT YOU CAN LOOK BACK AND BE PROUD OF REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS? "It was really, really important to me to make sure that Hendrick Motorsports had someone better than me to come in behind me. And I'm more comfortable now than I was a month ago because I didn't know what that was going to be; although I knew I was going to drive through 2011. I didn't know how that was going to work out with the timing because my choice for the guy that succeeded me here; the timing wasn't exactly right. They were going to be open in '11 and I was going to exit in '12. So, this has fixed that. I'm happy about that. I've had the time of my life and I don't understand how people want to put a negative spin on this. This is actually the most exciting thing that could ever happen to Kasey Kahne, to Mark Martin, to Hendrick Motorsports, and all of us. This is perfect. I don't know why everybody is digging for something negative."
DID YOU SPEAK TO JEFF BURTON AND MATT KENSETH ABOUT THIS? "Yes, I did. They both just laughed and joked around. They just kept joking around. They're my friends. They're my best number-one friends, Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth, and I love them to death. I confide in them and Jeff wants to be my agent for 2012 and has discussed, a number of times, even again yesterday, about that. So you've got to ask him what his plans are for me because he's got some really far-fetched plans that I'm not even going to tell you about. But I will be racing in 2012; I just don't know exactly what that will be; won't worry about that. It'll be a fun and exciting new opportunity to help some people and to do something that really gets me going, you know? And until then I'm going to race my guts out here in the No. 5 car. I love (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) and I love Hendrick Motorsports and I think they're set in the best possible scenario for the future.
"I don't know what I'll do in 2012. I have absolutely no idea and I won't be able to answer that question possibly until late next year. I don't know. I'm going to do whatever I want to. And I'm not even going to know what I want to do for a while and I'm not going to know the scenarios that might be there. But I've been in the sport long enough to know and have the confidence to know that really interesting opportunities come up and they will and they'll be fun and exciting and I'll explore driving and other things as well. I love this sport and I'm going to be in this sport for a long time. I'm going to drive for a long time. And I might get involved in other capacities as well. For the first time ever, I would consider an opportunity like Tony Stewart had. I don't want to be an owner, but if I can be an owner like Tony Stewart maybe I want it."
IN YOUR MIND, WHAT WOULD BE THE IDEAL SITUATION IN 2011 FOR HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AND KASEY KAHNE? "That's up to them. Everything is set for '12. That's what I was worried about. Everything is set for '12. You need to talk to them about '11; I don't know.
WHY IS KASEY KAHNE SUCH A PERFECT FIT FOR THIS TEAM? "He's obviously incredibly talented. He's incredibly marketable. And his personality will fit. And personalities are very important. His personality will fit with Rick Hendrick, with Doug Duchardt, with the crew chiefs, with the drivers, with the marketing, and with the whole thing. Kasey Kahne's the total package. If you want to know the truth, I can't believe that Rick Hendrick scored this deal. It is so perfect."
YOU SAID YOU TALKED TO KASEY. WERE YOU A PART OF IT? "I initiated it before ever talking to Rick Hendrick because I didn't want Rick to know that I was as concerned as I was about it. So I talked to Kasey two or three times last year starting back around September and then I didn't get involved after that. And to be real honest, I didn't know the last month that it had gotten to this level. So I'm thrilled. It's so exciting."
WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS SPORT THAT KEEPS DRAWING YOU BACK? "I love it with all my heart. And I love it. If you compare all the other things that I could do with my time, there's no comparison. It is like a 10 and a zero. There is nothing else I have found in my life that I can throw my passion toward and occupy my time that I enjoy as much and that I am any good at. You know I'm really not all that good at anything else or maybe I would like it more. I have had the time of my life racing in the No. 5 car.
"I am more relaxed now than I was two weeks ago knowing that Hendrick Motorsports has got the ideal scenario in place for going forward. I didn't want them to wait around for me so this time next year to decide if I was willing to continue going forward. I was willing to give up the ride to make sure they were set and I'll do something else really fun and fresh and new. It is the perfect scenario."
IS IT HARD FOR YOU TO EVEN FATHOM NOT DOING SOMETHING HERE? "That is why I am more open than I ever have been to other things in racing that would accompany driving. I'll drive and I might drive and be consulting or I might be an owner driver, transition into an owner if there was another scenario as wonderful as Tony Stewart's. Certainly not going the hard route. It is hard enough just doing that. I think Tony's scenario was great. I have a lot of great friends in the sport. Really really great friends, from owners, people like Jack Roush and Jay Frye and just a lot of great friends in this sport. There are going to be plenty of things for me to do and be involved in the sport.
"But, for me to consider going away from NASCAR and crawling under a rock for the rest of my life, that's no longer in the equation. I love what I do and I love this sport. You know since '07 that has just grown and rebuilt and I recognize that now and it's a part of everything that I am made of. It is part of the fabric."
TALK ABOUT YOUR SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH ALAN GUSTAFSON: "Yes. I knew where Alan was. I wouldn't go out and do something that wouldn't fit. I didn't do this, but I did initiate it with Kasey (Kahne) and Kasey laughed at me to. But he didn't laugh at me as much as other buddies did. Then I hinted to Rick (Hendrick) that is there was some way that could be done where Kasey could be available for 2012, then the next thing I know, the deal was done. I did not know the negotiations were going on, I told him he needed to go do that in my opinion."
WHEN YOU LOOK AHEAD AT YOUR FUTURE, DOESN'T IT SEEM LIKE THERE WILL BE A BIDDING WAR FOR YOU? "You must be pretty high on me. I don't know, I used to think the answer to that was definitely know, but I do believe now that through the experiences I've had since '07, I believe there will be some fun and exciting opportunities for me and I don't need to worry about them. I just need to continue to dig in here with my team, live for the day. That is what I wanted to do and I can do that now knowing that my predecessor (successor?) is my number one pick and I think the number one fit for the organization. Now I can just be comfortable and live in the day.
"It is not something I've done very much in my life and I've been doing it more and more ever since I got in this car. I love Alan and I think that they respect the fact that I cared enough to try to make sure this happened and I didn't want to wait until this time next year to decide whether or not I would continue. So, I just said, ok, I'll find something else to do in the sport and I will be damn grateful for the three years. I have already had the best of my career last year. I feel pretty comfortable in saying three of the best years of my career Hendrick Motorsports has delivered to me and I am damn grateful for it. I'll find something else fresh, new and exciting to do."
IS THIS A LITTLE BIT BITTERSWEET FOR YOU KNOWING HOW MUCH YOU ENJOY WORKING WITH ALAN? "I have to be honest with you. I feel so fortunate to have a whole year and a half yet in front of me to work with Alan and this team that I'm not really bittersweet about it. I'm so grateful for the opportunity. It's been the gift of my career to realize this and to be able to do this and be successful. It's also exciting to do new things and I love and embrace the excitement of 2012 and whatever that may bring. As long as everybody understands I'll be driving."
JEFF BURTON SAID YOU ARE IRREPLACEABLE. IS ONE OF THE REASONS YOU WANT TO GO THE DISTANCE IS BECAUSE YOU DO FEEL IN YOUR HEART YOU ARE THE BEST DRIVER BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THE NO. 5 TO GIVE ALAN AND YOUR CREW A SHOT AT WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "That is not an accurate statement. They want me in the car. That's why I want to continue is because they want me in the car."
THAT IS QUITE A COMPLIMENT FROM BURTON: "It is. It is a compliment to me that they want me in the car. I hope that everyone appreciates the fact that I was willing to say here is the end to stop. Here is where we can stop this. Let's make sure that my predecessor (successor?) is better than me. That is important to me. I'm doing that for them because they do something for me. They wanted me to stay. They wanted me to stay and stay and stay and stay and stay. I was a little uncomfortable with that. I'll say again in case you didn't get it. One full-time season was a stretch for me in the beginning. I gave them three. That is enough. We can put an end-stop on it and say that that was three wonderful years that everybody enjoyed and they are set going forward from that. It is really simple. It is not as complicated as people try to make it. It is just about that simple. I feel confident because they want me in that car. And they wanted me to go beyond '11. But I wanted to make sure they were set and I wasn't comfortable in waiting until I knew what I wanted to do about '12 or whatever. I wanted them to get set for the predecessor (successor?) that would be better than me."
-source: gm racing