CHEVY NSCS AT LAS VEGAS: Mark Martin Press Conference Transcript


March 4, 2011   MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and discussed the first two races of the season, what it feels like to win after a drought, his goals in his final season with Hendrick Motorsports and more. Full transcript:  

TALK ABOUT TWO RACES IN, BEING IN THE TOP-10, AM SURE THAT IS A GOAL YOU WANT FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR AND TALK ABOUT RACING HERE AT LAS VEGAS: “First of all, we’ve had good and not-so-good. We’ve had good results in the first two races. Certainly at Daytona, we had a great car, we got caught in a wreck, I think it was about lap 26 and got, what I would call, some pretty serious damage. Our team did a outstanding job of patching the car up and we managed to be very competitive and rebound with a great finish at Daytona. We were pleased with that. We were also caught up in a fairly early accident at Phoenix as well and got damage that would usually be a major setback and the guys did a good job with the quick repairs there that we could make. We were able to be more competitive than we would have expected based on the damage we had. So, we have two real respectable finishes where it could have been a disaster for us on both races.  The team is working well together. I am looking forward to this weekend. This is a really good race track for me. Love being here. Very excited about being here and anxious to get to work with my team.”
American Muscle

YOU WERE THE FIRST ONE IN VICTORY LANE TO CONGRATULATE JEFF (GORDON) LAST WEEKEND, AS SOMEONE WHO HAS GONE A LONG TIME WITHOUT WINNING AT TIMES IN YOUR CAREER, DID YOU REALLY RELATE TO HOW HE MUST HAVE FELT?  ALSO, AS SOMEONE WHO HAS WORKED WITH ALAN, DID YOU FORSEE GETTING SOME VICTORIES?“Yes on all accounts. I certainly identify. I know he was elated. I know the feeling. It was just two years ago that race that I experienced the same thing. I was real happy for Jeff. He’s one of the most incredible race car drivers in my lifetime. We don’t realize how incredible he is because we are used to it. He’s been here for quite some time. You finally get sort of numb to the fact, and every once in a while I’m reminded of what an incredible race car driver he is. He’s been great to me all the years prior to being a teammate and great to me since I’ve been at Hendrick Motorsports as well. I have a super soft spot in my heart for Alan and the guys that work on the No. 5 and was thrilled for them as well. To see their excitement and enthusiasm gives me more joy than I can describe. And yes, I expected Alan and Jeff to be world leaders. I do. I expect an enormous amount from them this year.”  

WHAT KIND OF FEEL DO YOU HAVE FOR THE SEASON RIGHT NOW?“You’ve seen some abnormal stuff. You’ve seen accidents, big ones at Phoenix, you’ve seen plenty of accidents at Daytona so you don’t get the full long-term lay of the competition right now. But it’s obvious that Carl (Edwards) and that bunch is going to be incredible and it looks like in my estimation it’s pretty much where the season left off last year. At the end of the season I see that pretty much carrying forward into this season. It’s still going to be a while. You know Daytona doesn’t count when you start stacking up the meat of the season because it’s different kinds of cars and different kind of logic in racing. So we only have Phoenix to judge from. And I got back to the last two or three races of last year and then going forward into this year and see it pretty much carrying forward from that. It’s interesting to see things kind of shook up here at the beginning of the year, but when you only have two races things can shake up and then over the long haul the cream sort of rises.”  

YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THE FIRST TO SAY CELEBRATE WHEN YOU ARE IN VICTORY LANE BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN THE NEXT ONE IS GOING TO COME, IN THAT REGARD WHEN YOU GO THROUGH A SKID HOW DO YOU NOT GET TO THE POINT WHERE YOU THINK DID I LOOSE IT, CAN I STILL DO THIS, DOES ALL THAT GO THROUGH YOUR MIND AT ANY POINT WHEN YOU ARE DEALING WITH A WINLESS SKID LIKE THAT?“Yes, it does. It all goes through my mind it may not someone else. I can’t speak for other people but in my mind it does. I went through a spell I think it was around ’96 where I could run second and it seemed like I ran second often, very often but I couldn’t get a win. I wondered about it a little bit then. When it comes later in your career then you wonder if you’re somehow not managing to be as effective. You know there’s all different things. Fear of failing, doubt, those things are what fuel me. That’s part of my fuel. That’s what makes me as effective as I am. So you just have to be sure and manage all those kinds of things so they don’t bring negative. You really have enough to fight with without allowing negatives to creep in and effect how you deal with situations, how you deal with people. Because if you let those things weigh on you and then you deal with these situations in not in as good of a way, not as a positive way, then you are going to be less effective because of it. That’s the biggest thing is trying to keep that in check and try to work hard and try to keep a good attitude. When I was young it was all about winning and that was it. For me now, it’s about the passion to do what I love and to do it well. It’s sort of a different grade and that helps me manage all the stuff and manage how I deal with situations much better if it isn’t all about the intensity of winning, it’s about the passion of doing what I love and doing it well and trying to find the positives in the good days. The things that you do and you did well even though you didn’t get the trophy, the things that you did do well.”  

WHERE DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR TEAM IS AT RIGHT NOW AND HAVE YOU GOT ANY SENSE OF WHAT THE NEW NOSE OF THE CARS ARE DOING OR WILL THAT COME THIS WEEK?“We weren’t as strong at Phoenix as we would have likes to have been. We made some adjustments and had two short runs before I was in the accident and I was more pleased with the car but I’m very slow to pass judgment so I’m going to look back on Phoenix and say that we needed to be better than we were and certainly will. You have to race to give the final evaluation anyway so we had that race and now we give that the final evaluation and then we decide what kind of hardware we want to try to work with next week. I’m excited about this weekend. This is a good one for us. Lance and our engineers and everyone feel really good. We’re excited about it. We’re in a building process right now of sort of building a foundation of what we like and what we want to use. All the Hendrick cars were on a little bit different stuff at Phoenix and we will continue to be on different stuff as we go forward for quite a while until we sort of all migrate toward what seems to be working best. That’s kind of where we are right now. We feel like we’ll gain momentum as the season goes on as we sort through the different stuff that we’re doing that we’re using for set up stuff. You know all I can tell you is I’ve been extremely pleased. The damage I got and the ability to still compete. I don’t know if that’s the new nose or if its luck coupled with a really tremendous job by the team and their repairs. The nose looks good and like you say we had damage and managed to do well with that damage which is a good thing.”  

WITH THE NEW FUELING SYSTEM, SOME TIMES YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO GO AT THE DROP OF THE JACK, SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO WAIT FOR THE FUELER TO GO, HOW DO YOU FIGURE OUT WHICH IS WHICH AND CAN YOU SEE THE FUELER AND DO YOU KNOW WHEN HE IS DONE OR ARE YOU LISTENING TO YOUR CREW CHIEF?“Lance makes the decision on whether I’m going to go on the jack or go on him and he tells me before I get in the box which one I’m going to go on. That might be a dangerous thing because sometimes I get things on my mind and could mess that up but for right now that seems to be working. He tells me we’re going on the jack or wait on me. It is awkward and a year from now it won’t be but for right now it is a little bit awkward, the whole fueling deal itself. It’s not working smooth as silk you know and there are some concerns. Getting it full or not, this that and the other. But as we move forward on it we will get better and better with it. I cannot see the fueler so I don’t have a clue from that standpoint. When we do right side tire changes and we’re leaving on the jack that I just basically pretty much run over my front tire changer because he’s the last guy around and I dump the clutch about the right time when I know it’s gonna kind of brush him and he’s going to be okay. Beyond that I wait for a cue, if it’s a left side jack drop or the crew chief calling it.”  

CAN YOU DEFINE FOR US WHY PEOPLE ARE RACING SO HARD EARLY, IS THAT THE POINTS DEAL?“I don’t know. I feel like I need to take a breath myself. I feel very fortunate that I’ve managed to be in accidents and still be able to repair or continue and have good finishes. But you know it has caused me to reflect on that and to think about how maybe I address this week. Even myself, I’ve been up on it. That’s okay but when you’re up on it every second you’re bound to make a mistake sooner or later and for me when I make those mistakes I kick myself pretty hard more than once. I’m not looking forward to doing that. These are long races. They are very important all the way through. From the green flag, the start you fight for every position all the time, all the way through these races now a days, still I think it would do us all a little good to take a breath before the flag comes out and think about what we’re trying to really accomplish.”  

DO YOU KNOW WHY WE’RE SEEING THAT SO EARLY?“I don’t know. I don’t know why. I don’t. I couldn’t tell you. I know I’ve been a part of it. I’ve been one of them too. I’ve been just like the rest of them. So I don’t know why that is.”  

YOU’VE GOT TWO WINS AT MARTINSVILLE, EXPLAIN WHAT IT IS ABOUTTHAT TRACK THAT MAKES IT UNIQUE AND GIVES IT ITS OWN CHARACTERISTICS:“What makes it unique is straight fairly long straightaways and real sharp type corner. Not many race tracks are quite that extreme on the sharp corners and the long straighaways for the size of the track. Most race tracks are more round than that. So it’s extremely tough on brakes and it is also a race track where you can’t make up much as a driver. You’ve got to pretty much take what your car will give you. If you try to get more it will just hurt you. So from that respect it can be kind of frustrating. You really have to get your car working. From that standpoint it’s like all other race tracks, you make your car handle better than everybody’s you’re going to be the heat. It’s a unique challenge because the corners are so sharp and the straightaways are fairly long for a little race track.”  

THIS IS GOING TO BE YOUR 1052ND NASCAR START ON SUNDAY WHICH IS 133 SHORT OF RICHARD PETTY, DO YOU THINK THAT 133 IS OBTAINABLE AND WOULD THAT MEAN ANYTHING?“To give you my first response, no that doesn’t mean anything to me but that’s kind of shallow. When I look back on it I probably will be proud that there were quite a few quality starts in there and I’ll probably be proud of the quality of the level of competition that I brought to all those starts. The longevity is special especially since I didn’t get an early start. I did get an early start of course I had my major setback that cost me about eight years so I really didn’t get started in this thing until I was nearly 30 even though I had my first pole when I was 21 or 22. That’s kind of what I am. Not proud of so much of the number of starts but proud of the level I managed to bring to it. That’s the intensity. At this point and time I’m just happy that I can do what I love and still do it well.”  

DO YOU THINK YOU WILL GET IN 133 MORE?“That’s a good question. That’s quite a lot of starts. I say it’s possible but I haven’t even thought about it. That’s four more years of nearly full-time of some kind of NASCAR competition so I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. That wouldn’t be one that I would go after as much as Kyle is coming after the all-time wins in Nationwide. A number like that would be something that would drive me more. I’m doing all I can do on that front now.”  

THE NEW FACES COMING INTO THIS SPORT SEEM TO BE GETTING MORE INTENSE COACHING FROM VETERANS, DO YOU THINK THAT DYNAMIC HAS CHANGED FROM WHEN YOU CAME UP?“It hasn’t changed in my career. I see it the same. I was being asked lots of questions in 1980 when I was short-track racing in late models. I was asked more questions then than I am now so what does that tell you? I’m not sure. I don’t see it much different. It’s just maybe covered more. It just used to be something that was private and nobody said anything about it and now this sport has all these eyes on it so its news.”  

OBVIOUSLY YOU WOULD LIKE TO GO OUT WITH A CHAMPIONSHIP BUT IS THERE ANY OTHER ONE THING, ONE RACE, ANDY PARTICULAR ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU WOULD LIKE TO DO THIS YEAR AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS THAT WOULD CAP OFF YOUR COUPLE OF YEARS THERE?“I like to have goals that are obtainable. What I would like to do rather than pinning a ribbon on something as movable as a race or something like that would be, I want to leave Hendrick Motorsports where the drivers and the crew chiefs and the management there say they were glad that I was there, that I made a contribution. That was number one when I came there and it will be number one with me as I exit. I hope I can achieve that.”  

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