MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGGS' IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International and discussed racing at The Glen, Jimmie Johnson, having a road course in the Chase and other topics. WHAT'S YOUR OUTLOOK THIS WEEKEND?...
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGGS' IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Watkins Glen International and discussed racing at The Glen, Jimmie Johnson, having a road course in the Chase and other topics.
WHAT'S YOUR OUTLOOK THIS WEEKEND? "It's good to be back to the Glen. It's been about three years, so I'm pretty excited about it. To me this is the superspeedway of road course racing so it should be fun. I'm looking forward to it and can't wait to get out on the race track and get started."
YOU WERE A PROMINENT ROAD RACER AT ONE TIME, AS WAS JEFF GORDON. WHY IS IT THAT GUYS HAVE DOMINANCE ON ROAD COURSES AND THEN LOSE DOMINANCE ON ROAD COURSES? AND DOES YOUR TEAMMATE JIMMIE JOHNSON NEED A ROAD COURSE WIN TO SORT OF COMPLETE HIS RESUME AND WHAT DO YOU SEE OF HIM AS A ROAD COURSE RACER WHEN YOU SEE HIM OUT THERE? "Let's start with Jimmie Johnson. You know hey he's the guy that I call Superman and I don't think Superman needs a road course win to complete that. He doesn't have to win a road course to continue to be Superman in my book. He's fast. He's fast on a road course. But that's okay and we'll push him any way. We'll push him to do that and he is very competitive and I think it's one of those matter-of-time-deals when everything has to line up just right.
"You know, to answer your question about why you get hot for a while and then not so hot, you know, I don't know. We just hit on something back there in the 90's and I always ran well on all the road courses but man we really hit on something that really hauled around this place and was really good and it seemed to continue to just need little tweaks here or there. Not only did we win three in a row, but we ran second maybe the year before to Ernie Irvin and then, you know, things just changed. And you could use the same car and the same stuff and it just wasn't quite as sharp as it was for a while. So then you built new cars and you tried new stuff and that didn't seem quite as sharp on the race tracks either.
"So sometimes it's just hard to explain. The difference between being good and superior is obviously hard to find (laughs) or everybody would be superior and no one would be able to dominate again. So it's just a matter of hitting something that seems to really work and will work for a while and then the evolution of the car, the tracks, the paving and all that stuff will kind of diminish that and you have to find something else that works."
ON HOW TOP-OF-THE LINE BRAKES PLAY A BIG PART IN THE NEW CARS AT THE ROAD COURSES. "You know back in the day I think there was more room for improvement in the brake packages and therefore you could move forward on the competition sometimes. But I think right now it's come to the level where it's hard to have a lot more significant package than another team.
"But they work as where you can take this package sometimes and put on this car and they work so much better than if you take that package and put on another car. And obviously if we had that figured out it would be the same every time too but we don't have that figured out and so it's a moving target as well.
You put the best products on the car that you are aware of and you adjust your car the best that you can to do all the things, turn the corners and stop and you do the best you can and place it in competition and you drive it to the best of your ability and when it's all over with, you think about next time and what will I do next time to try to improve on some of these areas that we need to improve on. And that is just the only way that I know how to address it."
ON THOUGHTS ABOUT GOING TO MICHIGAN NEXT WEEK AND DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS AT A WIDE TRACK. "I think about Michigan and I think, ahhhhh that will be fun. It's always been a great race track and our car ran really well up there the first race. It's a comfortable race track and it will be much more comfortable on the restarts than last week was or than this week will be.
"That's the biggest thing that you want to do is to sort of control the circumstances around you and that race track puts you in a position to do that very well. And so to me that will be pure racing with more pure predictable outcomes on what happens on restarts and all those kinds of things. This one......(Watkins Glen) not so predictable."
ON HOW MUCH BETTER THE RANK AND FILE SPRINT CUP SERIES DRIVERS ARE ON ROAD COURSES NOW THAN THEY WERE SEVERAL YEARS AGO. "Significantly. You know, I took to road course racing very quickly and Jack Roush asked all the right questions of me. Instead of trying to tell me what to do, he would just casually ask me about this, and ask me about that and it made me think about the things that I needed to be thinking about in road course racing. So he was a big help in that respect.
"My point is that it was much easier to put a whipping on two-thirds of the field then than it is today. That's because the whole field has pretty much the same access to all the knowledge that I do or that we do and the drivers have all really stepped up to the plate.
"So what that means is that there is more movement on the race track. Its more competitive but you see less passing because everybody is closer to the same speed than they used to be so you actually see probably less passing because the cars are so good and the drivers are all so good at it today."
ON HOW MUCH YOU HAVE ENJOYED THE SUCCESS IN YOUR FIRST YEAR BACK IN FULL TIME SPRINT CUP SERIES COMPETITION AND WHAT IT WOULD MEAN TO GET TO VICTORY LANE AT WATKINS GLEN. "Man it would just be so incredible to win here, but it's just beyond my dreams. This year has been beyond my dreams. It's so incredibly grateful to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and to Rick Hendrick, and to all our sponsors and especially my race team, and to all the fans for their support and this year has just exceeded my wildest dreams."
ON HOW CLOSE THE POINTS ARE AND HOW YOU CAN HAVE A TOP TEN RUN AND STILL LOSE POSITIONS. "Well, that's true, but if we can continue to finish where we run we will be fine. It's those uncontrolled things that can get you and our performance is really good right now and we feel really good about that right now, but we can't control if we get a punctured tire, or a broken part but even more than that is if you look at Jeff Burton I think five out of the last six races he has been in accidents and that is Jeff Burton -- a guy that doesn't get in wrecks. So anything can happen and it is really really close, and it is going to be very interesting. And the race to make the Chase is definitely more stressful when you are in that position than the race for the championship. The race for the championship means you are in it, and the race for the Chase, you aren't in it and you are fighting and scratching to even have a chance. And once you get the chance you place your stuff in competition and you do the very best and that's that. But you don't want to be excluded especially when you feel like that your team has performed on a level where you feel they should be in there so for about six to eight teams out there it's going to be sort of a tense time the next five races especially about the conditions that you can't control.
"I think most of the guys feel pretty good about their performance. I can't speak for everyone, but I know we do."
ON THE 2010 SCHEDULE AND ANY CHANGES YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE ON IT. "I really don't care what they do with the Chase schedule. I really should keep my mouth shut about what my preferences are about races because first of all they are skewed because of being a competitor so I have got blinders on because what I might like to see might not be the best thing for the sport or for the fans so I probably should just keep my mouth shut.
"There are certainly race tracks that aren't my favorite or whatever but you go to a race track that wasn't one of your favorites and you have a great run and you leave there and say, 'gosh that wasn't so bad after all was it?' Or you go there and you have a bad run and you say, 'gosh I hate this place.'
"I pretty much just leave it to NASCAR because they are the ones that had the vision to bring us to where we are today and if I had been in charge I would have messed it up for sure."
DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE A GOOD MOVE TO ADD A THIRD ROAD RACE TO THE NSCS CALENDAR LIKE THE NATIONWIDE SERIES? "I just think then you would add even more extensive expenses to the race teams because then they would add expenditures to make sure they were even better at road racing. I really feel like the oval track racing is our forte and I have always been a supporter of having road course racing on the schedule but I would not necessarily be a supporter of the expansion of that.
I think that our specialty is oval track racing is working and we should stick with what is working well."
-credit: gm racing