MARK MARTIN --60-- Winn Dixie Taurus HOW WAS YOUR RUN? "I just want to give a special thanks to Winn Dixie. They've done so much for the Busch Grand National Series and taught a lot of these other companies how to do marketing programs with the...
--60-- Winn Dixie Taurus
HOW WAS YOUR RUN? "I just want to give a special thanks to Winn Dixie. They've done so much for the Busch Grand National Series and taught a lot of these other companies how to do marketing programs with the series and showed them that it could be done and I want to thank them and all the guys that work on the Winn Dixie car. It was awfully fast the first half. The car started getting a little too tight in the second half and Gordon was just strong and he got it done there at the end. I made a couple of runs at him, but I couldn't get him."
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE ENDED YOUR BUSCH CAREER? "Good, it feels good. This has been a ridiculously busy weekend and I'm not up for all of that anymore. It was a great race today. I love winning. I love running good. This is what I've done for 26 years is race and race to win and I'll be doing it one less time on 14 weekends from now on, but I'll have a chance to focus on the Winston Cup car. My new sponsors and the fans and the media, all of that has grown so much and it's just a crazy schedule on the weekends when you're trying to do double duty. I don't feel good because I don't feel like I'm taking care of everyone as well as I would like to, so I'll have a little bit more time. I'll enjoy watching 'em. I'm a big fan and I'll watch every one of 'em."
I'M SURE YOU WOULD HAVE LIKED TO HAVE WON, ESPECIALLY AFTER SUCH A STRONG FIRST HALF? "Yeah, we had a really great car there the first half. The car started getting a little tight and we really couldn't quite get it adjusted out there at the end. Jeff Gordon was just really strong there the second half. We were strongest in the first half and we were just a tick off our game and he was really running. There wasn't anything I could do. I made some runs at him. I could catch him, but then I'd lose the front end. I tried, but I couldn't do it."
ANY BITTERSWEET EMOTIONS ABOUT FINISHING UP YOUR BUSCH CAREER? "Not yet. I might get sad some day, but I'm not sad about it right now. I've had a great career in the series. I've had a lot of success and it's meant a lot to my career, but, for now, I'm closing the books."
HOW TOUGH WAS IT WITH THE CONDITIONS TODAY? "It's just been hot all weekend it seems like. I didn't find it exceptionally tough or anything. It's been hot. That's about it."
HOW MUCH DID YOU WANT TO WIN THIS LAST RACE? "Actually, I ran way better than I expected. Homestead would not be a race track that I would consider my strong suit. It's not one that I thought I could come down here and dominate and win on, unlike Darlington or Rockingham. This race track, we ran better today and in qualifying than I expected. I felt like if the race would have been 100 laps instead of 200, we would have dominated and that was something I never expected at this race track. I'm not saying we don't run good here, but we don't run here like we do at Darlington or Charlotte or Rockingham. So, we had a really great race car and a great race."
WHAT ABOUT FREE SATURDAYS? "I'm gonna try to smile a little bit more. Stop and sign that autograph that I haven't had time to sign all day. The meet and greet with our supporters and friends, and I'll really enjoy watching the races. I'm a big fan. I enjoyed Phoenix a whole lot watching the race and not being a competitor. The only thing that is gonna leave a hole in my life is if my Winston Cup car runs like a dog. Then I'm gonna be left with a gaping hole in my life because I'm very competitive and I like to run good. When that Winston Cup car runs bad, if I get in a Busch car, at least everybody says it's not me. It's not Mark. I'm still able to pick the springs and the shocks and the weight distribution and all those things. My judgement hasn't gone all to pieces, it's something else about our combination that we're doing, so as long as we focus on the Winston Cup car and make it run like the Busch Grand National car runs, then I'm gonna be totally content, I think. The sport has changed and you guys know this, I just don't have time to do all this stuff anymore. I feel bad at the end of the day because I didn't do this and I didn't do that. It was just all of these little things. One thing doesn't matter much, but when there are 15 or 20 things throughout the day that you had to cut short because you were running back and forth in between two race cars and other stuff, I just feel bad. I feel like I haven't done a good job, so I want to be able to step back -- not that we're gonna have any extra leisure time, but, still, to focus on the things that are important to the 6 car and to me, and have a little bit of time for myself and my sanity and to think about racing and the cars and the setups and the tracks and all that stuff. Right now it's like a mad dash from one car to the other all day. Yesterday and today were crazy. This schedule, the way they did it, if you're racing both cars it will break your back. If you're racing just one car it's neat. I love this schedule with happy hour before the Busch race, I think it's wonderful, but it really keeps you hopping if you run both. It's time. It's just time. I never said I would never race Busch Grand National again, but I probably won't race Busch Grand National again as long as I'm running a full Winston Cup schedule."
SO YOU WOULD COME BACK? "The reason that I might ever come back to the Busch Series would be if I retired from Winston Cup. I still love to race and I'll still be able to race for a long, long, long time, hopefully, with the physical condition I'm in. I just don't want to do both. I want to focus on Winston Cup and try to nail down possibly one of those championships that everybody tells me I've been missing out on and what have you. I still love to race. I've said for years and years and years that I wanted to race until I was 55 years old and I'm 41. I certainly don't think I'll be racing Winston Cup until I'm 55, I can tell you that. I might race something, I just don't know what it'll be. You shouldn't expect me to do another 14-race Busch schedule while I'm doing the 36 or 38 Winston Cup races as well."
WHAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR BUSCH CAREER? "There have been some really neat wins in the Busch Series and there have also been some very frustrating times. In my whole career I've done way more gigantic stupid things in the Busch Series than in the rest of my racing and that's probably because sometimes it hasn't had my full attention, but I've also had a lot of great races. I can't really name 'em. All of those wins are invisible to me and today's race is invisible too. I don't even remember running second. I don't know what to tell you. Some day when I turn around and can see what's behind me, I'm sure I'll see those and, yeah, I'm real proud. I probably have a job in Winston Cup racing today because of the success I had in the Busch Series, otherwise I probably wouldn't have this job. So, it's meant a lot to me, but, I don't know, I might start crying tonight at midnight. I can't answer your question. As of right now, I'm glad. I'm glad that the last one is done and I'm looking forward to 2001. We're gonna have a lot of exciting things and a whole new chapter opening up going into 2001."
DO YOU SEE OTHER WINSTON CUP DRIVERS CUTTING BACK THEIR BUSCH SCHEDULES? "For a driver, let's say Jeff Burton, with his visibility I'd say yes. I will be surprised to see Jeff continue for as long as I did because things are different today. I had a lot of drivers ask me five years ago, 'Hey man, how do you do it?' And I just looked at 'em and said, 'What? There's nothing to it. It's not big deal.' I didn't mind. Growing up, if I ever had a chance to work overtime and get paid double-overtime or time-and-a-half, man, sign me up for all of it and that's all I've been doing -- I've just been working overtime. That's really as good as I can explain it. I had friends who worked at a plant and complained all the time about having to work overtime and I think they were making time-and-a-half or double, so I don't know what's wrong. I think there comes a time where it's too much and the higher up the ladder you are and the more stuff that's going on, the harder it gets to walk from that garage to that garage. It's like a major deal. It's a major deal to get from one practice to the other and get through all the fans. If you stopped to sign every fans' autograph, it would take an hour. And if you don't sign any of them, then what do they think of you? So there are more complications to it than meets the eye or what's on the surface."
DO YOU THINK THE BUSCH SERIES HAS BEEN A DISTRACTION TO YOUR CUP EFFORT? "No, not at all. I don't believe that. I believe it's been hard for me, but I don't believe it's had any effect on the performance of the 6 car. I think it would be real easy for not running the Busch car to not have any effect on the performance of the 6 car, so we're gonna have to buckle down. It's time. We've got to get going. We've had our little spell here this summer where we didn't run as good as we expect and that's enough. We need to fix that."
THE FUTURE OF WINN-DIXIE. "Right now Winn-Dixie is gonna step out of motorsports. We really wanted them to stay involved, but they're gonna step out of the motorsports arena for the time being. They're right in the middle of a lot of re-structuring, so I guess they won't be involved."