With : Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman
MODERATOR: First up, second fastest qualifier, the driver of the No. 8 U.S.Army Chevrolet, Mark Martin. Mark, you've been talking about confidence recently, and tell us about that lap today?
MARK MARTIN: I really knew we had something when we came off of (Turn) 4 forthe green flag there. It really flew through Turn 4 coming in for the green.I knew we had something. The car was just spectacular. You know, just really want to commend the U.S.Army team and everybody at DEI, Tony Gibson and ECR, Earnhardt/ChildressRacing Engines. They've got a real special engine in that car this weekend. I really appreciate their dedication and everyone's dedication in putting mein such incredible race cars. It was a great lap. That's one step in not embarrassing myself. You know, I predicted that we were going to be strong here this weekend, so at leastwe've been strong in qualifying. Hopefully, we can go out and back that upwith a tremendous run and contend for this thing tomorrow. I really, really would love to see the 8 team in Victory Lane, and I'd like to enjoy that with them. They're overdue, and they deserve it. All those guys have really big hearts, and they're really dedicated to this program.I'd like to see that for them.
Q: What would it mean to you to win this race at this point in your career?You've done so much already?
MARTIN: You know, I don't think about it in terms of me. I think about it asmy team. I couldn't be a contender if it wasn't for the heart and dedicationof all the guys that work on the 8 team and everybody at DEI. I think about them. I don't think about the trophy and what it would mean tome personally. I think about what it would mean to see their face in VictoryLane.
MODERATOR: We're joined by our third-place qualifier, Ryan Newman, driver ofthe No. 12 Alltel Dodge. Ryan, good effort. Tell us about your qualifying run today?
RYAN NEWMAN: Well, we obviously had a great draw. We had a good car from yesterday's practice session. Just, basically, put in a good, solid lap, andit was good enough for third. It will be a good starting spot for the AlltelDodge. I was watching the highlights last night from last year on ESPN Classic, andI forgot that we had qualified third there, but didn't have any good results in the race. So look forward to improving this year.
Q: Qualifying is one thing, what do you expect in race trim?
NEWMAN: We did about eight laps in race trim in the first practiceyesterday. Our car was decent. We were basically spending time filling thetrack in with rubber. We'll see today, just due to the fact that it's probably not going to rain,what the track's going to be like. Hopefully, it doesn't rain tonight fortomorrow so that we can have some good green flag runs. Honestly, we didn't change a whole lot on our race car from race trim to qualifying trim, so I think we'll be in good shape for race trim.
Q: As late as Mark went out, were you surprised by the lap he put down?
NEWMAN: He was stout. He was really stout around the straightaways. If you look at the tracker, he was making a lot of ground on the straightaways. Butyou have to make it through the corners to make it on the straightaways. If had he would have had an earlier draw, he and Johnson would have had agood shot. If he went out nose to tail, they would have had a good shot tying each other, in my opinion.
Q: When you look at Mark Martin, can you imagine yourself at that age? Will you have any difficulty getting out of a car and staying out of a car, or will you have three or four farewell tours?
NEWMAN: Well, Mark's doing all right on merchandise when it comes to that stuff. I would say that for me would I imagine for what my long-term goalis, I wouldn't necessarily be here when he is. My intention is to win a championship before I'm 40-whatever years old. AndI know he hasn't, and I know that's what he's going for. That's what hisgoal is. Obviously, he's got a great opportunity next year with the Hendrick ride anda full-time schedule. Mark's a great competitor, and he's a great racer.Honestly, I don't think the age makes a difference as much as what peoplethink the age makes a difference.
Q: Gillett-Evernham has seen a huge pickup with the new engine package they're using. Have you experienced similar gains at Penske, as well?
NEWMAN: We don't have the new engine in our cars yet. It's still being developed.
MODERATOR: We're joined by our pole sitter, Jimmie Johnson. Former champion in this event, two-time series champion. Jimmie, great effort. Tell us about your qualifying laps today.
JIMMIE JOHNSON: Thank you. It was a great race car. A car that I could get aggressive with. From the first lap off the truck, we knew we had a lot speed in the car and we were toward the top of the sheets, or the sheet, I should say. All in all, I was really impressed with the car. Takes a little bit to getused to this track and remember the reference points and where to be. And we only ran six or seven laps yesterday, And things were working well. Woke up this morning, and drove probably 50 laps this morning in my mind mentally tomake sure I hit my marks. Rolled out there and got two of the four corners right and got the pole. Ihad a great car. I did make some mistakes on my lap. This track sucks youinto doing things that you regret. I nailed (Turn) 1, felt really good through 1, got into (Turn) 2 too hardand missed the exit at 2. Then went down into (Turn) 3 and tried to make up some time and made another mistake. Then calmed down and got Turn 4 prettygood and came back to the start/finish line. So just great car, great effort. I'm very proud of my guys and how hard they've been working. Since the start of the season, we've been playing a little bit of catch-up here, and I think we're going down the right road in making a lot of progress.
Q: Pretty much single-car traffic at this point. How do you think the new car is going to be once you get more traffic out there this afternoon and in the race?
JOHNSON: I'm sure you're going to hear a lot about tight, aero push and things like that. This racetrack is probably one of the worst for us being as narrow as it is, as flat as it is. Great facility, tons of history and all positive things about this racetrack. But when you run single file, the first car has the best air, and on back it gets worse and worse. You'll hear a lot about being tight, a lot about track position. I predic tmore than what you've heard in the past. This car seems to be more sensitive to that stuff. We're very proud of where we're starting, that's why I put so much effort into starting up front, and, hopefully, we can maintain that on Sunday.
Q: Your description of your qualifying lap seems like it was quite an eventful experience, but at the same time it kind of underscores how you had the time to gather it in, you know, in order to make things right. Was thatindicative of the run you had here, the adversity you had? Your team still gathered it in and made it right at the end?
JOHNSON: I think our team does a great job over the course of the race adjusting and really trying to put ourselves in position or get ourselves back into position. We haven't had a funner day of that than when we won here. Overcoming the flat tire that we had, worked through traffic, pitstops, get up there for the race and win. It really was a special day. This track is so challenging mentally. We callit Turns 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. But normally from when you leave the wall going into Turn 1 in the oval, your arc's in motion in one continuous corner. So here you have four chances, two more opportunities to mess it up.And it is really difficult to get around this track. (Turns) 1 and 3 looks very similar, but drives totally different. (Turns) 2and 4 look similar, but they drive completely different from end-to-end. Andyou have to continuously adjust as you're going around the track. Not only for the corners, but as your tires wear off even as you take yourqualifying lap, Turn 1 you have the most grip, as you get back to (Turn) 4,you're losing grip. So whatever the balance of the car is doing, if you'relosing the front it just keeps getting tighter and tighter. If you're loose,you're getting looser and looser. It makes it exciting. You have a lot tostay on top of inside the car.
Q: Can you talk more about going over the laps in your mind if you do that every weekend? How can you click into that focus to do it, where you do it,and how much that helps you?
JOHNSON: I spend a lot time doing that. I've just done it my entire career.I know where it came from. My swim coach in high school had us memorize ourstarts. How many strokes it took to get to the end of the pool, your kickturn and back to the finish. We'd sit there with stopwatches as we were stretching and kind of work on that. That just got into my mind at a young age and has been real helpful for me in the Cup series. In off-road racing, a lot of the races I ran on, you'd never see the same terrain again, so it didn't really apply. But in oval racing, especiallyNASCAR, you get so few laps on track before you've got to qualify and mak eit count, so I just look forward to that and go through that in my mind.
Q: Thank you for letting us know you wore Speedos, that's new information.
JOHNSON: I said that. Now there will be photos everywhere. Fantastic(laughing).
Q: When you were in Pocono you were seeded next to Mark Martin. And he said,and I plan on winning the Brickyard. And I remember you kind of got a lookon your face like, "Wow." Looking back now, was that a . that's awfully cocky or what was your initial reaction when Mark said that? And now thatyou guys are 1 2, how does that play out? Is it going to come down to two and he's already got this over confidence that the race is his?
JOHNSON: You know, when Mark said that, I looked at him with that face because Mark never is optimistic about things. The fact that he was so confident about it, I couldn't believe it was Mark Martin sitting next tome. For him to say that, I think that's a huge statement. He backed it up today with qualifying. He's a much better racer than he is at qualifying, so I would assume he's going to be one of the guys to beat. Of course, I'm very optimistic about our car and what we're doing. But forMark to go out and say that type of comment, he's got something in store fo rus.
Q: What conditions are you going to be looking for? What do you need to have come together tomorrow to be successful and grab your second win here?
JOHNSON: I think you need to have a car that's going to stay turning all daylong. I would prefer in most cases to have a loose race car, especiallyhere. These corners are really tight. If you're in any traffic, you don'thave air on the nose of the car, and the car's going to get tighter yet. Youneed the car to really turn well for you. So the guys that enjoy loose race cars are really going to pull ahead fromeverybody and find their way to the front.
Q: Do you feel like even if Kyle remains kind of a dominant figure goinginto the Chase, your experience at winning Chase races, winning 11 of themin the four years, offsets that and gives you the same kind of confidenceyou had going into it last year?
JOHNSON: I think that even last year and in '06 when I was asked who I wouldfavor for winning the Chase, I would instantly turn to guys that wonchampionships. I rank them first. So, with that in mind, I would look at Jeff as the top seed. I guess, Tonyand I both have two now, and work your way down from there. Not saying that you can't overcome that, but there is something about it. Iexperienced it last year. There was something about the fact that you'vebeen through it that brings you a lot of peace, and you start worrying aboutthe right things. I can only imagine as more championships are under adriver's belt, how much more relaxed and focused you can be on the rightthings through those 10 races. It's not impossible. Everybody has to win their first, and it certainlycould be Kyle's year, and he's shown he's figured out how to win races andwin them consistently. I think he's always been fast but has had troublegetting to the end of the races. But now he's grasping that and doing agreat job at it. I hope my experience, I hope I make the Chase. I know that sounds crazy. Butyou've got to cover that first goal and cross it off the list. After that, Ithink that with the momentum we have as a team and the experience we haveover the last, really, all seven years we've been in the championship hunt,at some point that experience is very important.
Q: How would you describe the learning curve at this track with thisparticular car in light of what you've been able to put on the board theselast two days?
JOHNSON: It's pretty tough. I'm thankful that I figured out how to drivethis track with the old car. I feel for the new guys that are coming in, especially someone like Patrick Carpentier. Juan did a great job adaptinglast year, which was really impressive. But those guys are used to going around here flat out at 225 or whatever, and there is no way you can eventhink about driving this car like that. Even from last year's car to this year's car, the cars are slower and don't react as well. It's a track that's extremely inviting and make you want to drive in thecorners steep. But you get penalized if you don't hit the corner right. Thestraightaways are so long that if you miss the center of the turn or get intoo hard, you can't get off the corner. I'm thankful that I figured that out and brought that approach over here. Iknow my marks, know my reference points. It's tough as a rookie. Tough as aguy that doesn't have a lot of experience in these cars to come and run wellhere. Probably one of the more difficult tracks to run at.
Q: You seemed pretty relieved when Jeff didn't bump you from the pole. Had Mark gone earlier in the day, would we talk about him winning the pole?
JOHNSON: I don't know. We were watching the temperature and things. It seemed like the track stayed pretty consistent throughout the day. Knowingthat I made the mistakes that I did on my lap had me really nervous aboutthe 24, about the 8. There was the 19 that was still left to go that was really strong, so I was definitely worried. I felt like I could have gone .2 or .3 faster if Ididn't make the mistakes that I made. Not often you leave something on thetable and end up on the pole. So I was pretty nervous for all the guysgoing. Even the 10 car, I was nervous about the go-or-go-homers. Because Patrick,you know, is known for his qualifying. He's doing a great job at that, and Iwas even worried about him.
Q: I wasn't in Chicago, so I apologize if I do not know what I'm talkingabout. But when Marty was on TV he was talking about the closing laps and hesaid Kyle stole your will when he passed you. I took that to mean that youwere maybe demoralized after the race. What were your emotions the last raceafter you did not win? J
OHNSON: I was really mad at myself. There was no one to blame but myselffor losing that race. I ran Kyle down, passed him, drove away, had a restartat the end, and made two mistakes. For days after that, I kicked myself. Then as I knew I was coming to Indy and getting my mind ready to come racehere, I started kicking myself again. So that was my fault. I apologized tomy team over and over. They're tired of hearing it, but we should have hadthat trophy. That was our race. I didn't get the restart right. And Kyle timed it just perfect. He got intothe back of me just as I went on the gas, which was a great move on hisbehalf. I couldn't hook up the rear tires, he got a run on me and got to beoutside. One, I needed a better restart, and two if he had a run on me, I knew betterthan letting him have the outside. I should have given him the bottom. Iwould have been the one side drafting around for a lap or two. Things wouldhave been different. I wasn't demoralized, just pissed. I was mad at myselffor doing it.
Q: (Asking about will today's pole win help him get over the loss to Kyle.)
JOHNSON: It does help. I mean, every time you're on track kind of eraseswhat went on before. But, God, I hope roles are reversed at the end of thisthing. I want to get back the same way, and that is out of respect for him.He got me. And Carl Edwards got me in Atlanta. I still think about that, especially when I see the clips with me coming tothe checkered. I've won a couple like that, and I'm sure I passed Matt(Kenseth) and Bobby Labonte, I'm sure it drives them crazy when they see it.It's just the competitive nature of us.
Q: Speaking of that race and that restart, is what Kyle did there with thatsecond-place guy sort of driving the train, has that been going on all alongand we just realized it? Or has he sort of changed the way guys are going toapproach a restart with a couple laps to go?
JOHNSON: Well, timing couldn't have been perfect. If he would have gotteninto me much harder, I think he probably would have crashed me or he wouldhave needed to checkup and both of our runs would have been messed up andmaybe Harvick could have gotten up there and challenged us. I did theabsolute wrong thing; he did the absolute right thing and took advantage ofit. From short-track racing to all types of racing, and that restart and howyou get the run, that is just a normal thing that takes place, and he timedit right. Q: But the second place guy actually pushes? JOHNSON: Yeah, if you can get to the guy's bumper in front of you. Normallyyou wait till you get bumped and then you go. I waited for the bump, and Igot the bump, and I hit the gas. And he expected that and just stayed on meand kept me from hooking up my rear tires.
MARTIN: Chad wanted me to ask you if you could tell me what springs are inyour car? They seem to be working better than mine (laughing). JOHNSON: You'll know in December (laughing).
MARTIN: Expect me to mess up. It's Mark Martin, and I'm with the U.S. Army 8car. What springs are in your car? J
OHNSON: You'll know in December (laughing).
MARTIN: Thank you.
MODERATOR: If you have questions for the second-fastest qualifier, driver ofthe No. 8 Army Chevrolet has graciously agreed to come back.
Q: Mark, you said at Pocono with Jimmie sitting right there that you plannedon winning the Brickyard. Why did you think that then, and I guess yourstrong qualifying efforts shows that you knew something was coming? MARTIN: After the first practice yesterday, I was feeling a little bit likea heel. But I've been a heel many times before, but not for this reasonthough, I haven't. I felt like we had a really incredible car at Phoenix, and a pretty doggonegood car at Richmond, too. We parked this car. It was new at Phoenix, and weparked it after Richmond and earmarked it for Indy. I felt like the same setup, geometry and all that stuff would work well herein these flat corners. Based on not having any testing here or anythingelse, I felt like that was the best place to start setup wise. It was, youknow. We fought some issues coming out of the gate yesterday. I'm sure a lot ofpeople did. But we got the car some better in race trim, switched toqualifying trim, made four qualifying runs and improved the car each time.And some of that will translate back to race trim. So with these next two hours, I believe and I hope, I have great hopes thatwe can get the car in race trim as good as we did in qualifying trim or asgood as it was in Phoenix. If we do that, why shouldn't I think we can win?
Q: Why is it so difficult for athletes and not just in your sport but allsports, to step away and stay away?
MARTIN: Well, because it's hard to describe to anyone that hasn't done thatand been there. You know, it's their life's work. It's their passion. Forme, I don't have the same kind of passion toward anything else. That isgoing to be a tremendous void for me unless I find something. I have a couple of ideas, you know, but they certainly don't fill thepassion completely. I have a couple ideas. It's something everyone has toface, just as I saw my grandfather, my dad take the car keys away from mygrandfather. That was a really hard day, you know. At some point in time you have to meet those kinds of things all throughlife. I think for a professional athlete that is pretty good at what hedoes, that comes earlier in life than maybe, you know, the example I gaveyou with my grandfather. It's just I'm not any good at anything else. Never was, that's why I likedracing, that's why I liked racing.
Q: How old was your grandfather? MARTIN: He was 100 when he died. But he got the car taken away from himaround 90, 88 or 90. Yeah. He lived by himself until he was like 97. He wasin very good shape, but he didn't see well. When he hit somebody on abicycle, I think they finally decided to take the keys away from him. It waskind of a tough time in his life.
Q: What was his name?
MARTIN: Clyde Martin. My dad's dad.
Q: Jimmie, you mentioned these win that's got away. How much more emphasisdo you put on that? Because Kyle's not a guy you want to give a head startgoing into the Chase, and that is 10 points right there when you don't getthe win.
JOHNSON: I can't really change what took place then, so I just try to learnfrom my mistakes. I really have over my career have learned a lot more fromthe mistakes that I made than the positive things that have gone on. So it's been in my head that I won't let that happen again. I just take eachday as it comes. We have a great race team. The Chase itself is an entirelydifferent world than we're living in now. The pressure to show up that youdidn't think existed, your mind goes to places you didn't think it would.That Chase is a different world. I'd like to close the gap, get some winsand not be so far behind when it starts. But I'm not too worried, becausethe Chase it its own animal.
Q: There's been a lot of talk this year about the new optimistic happy MarkMartin. Even Jimmie was talking about it, saying he doesn't even recognizeyou sometimes talking to you about winning the Brickyard. What has changedthis year, or do you feel like anything has changed?
MARTIN: A lot has changed. You know, I really had a chance to catch mybreath the last year and a half, you know. It took a while last year when Istarted setting out and staying at home and spending quality time with myfamily. Really feeling like I got my personal life sort of in order the wayI wanted it, and priorities kind of moved around. I've had a lot of pressure off of me, because I haven't worried about asingle point for a year and a half. So I haven't had that riding on me. Ifelt like I've got a lot off my shoulders right now. It's also given me a chance to reassess what's important to me. You know, Ilove my family with all my heart. The time that I spend with them, you know,is precious to me. I also realize almost all my friends are here. This is an important part ofmy life. It's been my life's work for 35 years. And on a good day, I'm stillpretty good at it. If I wasn't, I'd be staying at home. The chance to drive the Army car, the 8 car for DEI this year has been, youknow, you guys have seen it. When I drive fast race cars, that is life. Thatis what life is all about. I won't have a chance to do that very muchlonger. So, you know, that is also very precious to me. I'm having the time of my life. I can see the end out there not too faraway, and boy, I believe I'm making the best of it. I have a total differentI'm a happy person. I don't, presently, I don't do anything I don't want todo. For a long time, I felt like I was doing a lot of stuff I didn't want todo. So right now I'm doing everything that I want to do and nothing that Idon't want to do. So why shouldn't I be happy and optimistic?
Q: Jimmie, I know you've been asked this a few times. There's been talkrecently about how Kyle is able to drive the car into the corner maybecloser than other people, maybe a yard out. I was just wondering what he'sable to do in the Car of Tomorrow?
MARTIN: I've been out there, I've seen it. JOHNSON: I'm not sure and been asked on that. Kyle being, a teammate with Kyle, there are things that Kyle does with the brakes when I see him running fast which has been a lot lately I think it's tough for me to drive a race car like Kyle does. When I say he uses no brake, he really uses nobrake. We were at Charlotte testing one time and he left pit road, and the crew chiefs love to tell you you're driving it in too hard, get off the brake.And Chad's telling me all these things. I finally got off the car and looked at the data of Kyle's brake trace. I thought the brake channel wasn't working, the computer wasn't working and something was wrong, and I thought he used the brake to come into the pitsand slow down to come into the pits. So I thought, "Damn it, Chad's right." So from that point when I see Kyle, I think because of the way he drives the car, the tire will only do so much. One, he's got a great race team, he'sdoing a great job. But he's been, I think, taking advantage of the grip of the tire and how it positions the car in corner entry without using the brake. He's not overworking the tire, the tire lasts longer, and the tirehas more grip. I've been trying to adjust to do that, but it's tough. I'm one that sets thenose of the car with the brake. I help the car turn with the brake, and it'sjust the opposite. As I think about those things, this car hates the brakes. It will not changedirections with help, it has to do it at its own pace. So I think all those things are lending to Kyle's style, and he's doing a great job of it.
Q: Will he be able to carry more speed into the corner?
JOHNSON: No, that's a deceiving thing. When I try to drive that way I, unfortunately, go to my same braking point. Just don't touch the brakes and go into the corner, scare the hell out of myself and don't make the turn. So he's actually in most cases off a little sooner, but efficient in carrying good speed. It's tough to see with the naked eye, carrying good speed to the center of the corner. But when he gets to the turn, and the car goes through its transition, it's not overstressed. The tire still has the grip that it needs and the car changes direction and its right from thethrottle. From my stand point watching him, I think he does a great job driving the car on the throttle loose. He can really control the car well up off the turn.
Q: You've touched on this on the grid or after your qualifying lap, but this place has been a mixed bag for your team. There have been times when this weekend has been one of the most unhappy weekends you guys have had all season, and then two years ago you won it. Has this place been kind of like do you had any explanation for that? Here you are sitting on the pole this year.
JOHNSON: I think a lot of it has to do with where our race team was coming into August or July/August, the summer stretch. You look at years past, gotoff to a good start. Everybody caught us. We were kind of revamping what wewere doing and slowed through the summer months and got our stuff sorted outand got back to the front after that. This year has been just the opposite. Off to a slow start and been improving our race cars each week. Learning how to drive this thing each week betterand better. It's all coming to a head. I hope it continues into practice and on into the race. But so far this place has been good to us this year.
Q: NASCAR relies on youth and image seemingly more than ever to reach out to fans. What's it mean to you to come to one of NASCAR's premier events and have the success that you're having right now?
MARTIN: You just don't know what it means to me to be competitive and drivea fast race car. The fan response is overwhelming. For some reason I justreally have I think that a lot of your general race fans that aren'tparticularly my fans still kind of use me as a secondary fan because I'm thelast of the gray hairs out there to some degree, you know? I think a lot of fans that aren't kids can identify with that. You know, Icertainly see a lot of Dale Jr. apparel coming up with tremendous enthusiasmto me and getting autographs and stuff. So I really, to be honest with you, feel like the only reason I know thatsome people might say that I have pretty good results on the racetrack, butI really truly believe the only reason I still have a job in this sport isbecause of the fans' support. I'm still, you know, still supported stronglyby the fans, and that is recognized by the sponsors. Usually when you get to this stage in your career, it's hard to get sponsorsto line up behind you. And I've been really blessed in that respect.
Q: You had mentioned before you probably have a few things that at least stir a little bit of passion in your racing. Would you share any of those other sort of things that stir you up a little bit?
MARTIN: Business aviation is something that I lay in bed awake at night thinking about. You know, different ratios, sometimes it's 50 50, racing and business aviation. Sometimes it's, you know, obviously more racing, but I think about it a lot. I do have a great passion for it. I don't understand how I could do it andnot just run the bank account dry. I don't know. Business aviation is not something cheap. I haven't figured out how I can be a ... what I'd really like to be is maybe a demo pilot for a Cessna or the Citation brands and fly all the Citations and take passengers around. Take a nap in the pilot's lounge while passengers were doing their things.Those things are kind of dark and cool. Those pilot's lounges. That's kind of cool. That would be something that might rival the racing thing for me.When I knew that I wasn't going to be able to drive a competitive car or be competitive with myself. Obviously, I have great passion for my family, but that's a different kind of thing. You know, Matt doesn't race, so I don't have that to share with him. So I really can't think of anything else other than business aviation. I'm not a sport flyer and into little airplanes and turning it over and all that acrobatics. I'm not into any of that. I'm into business jets. I'm into going from one place to another for business. I'm not a sport flyer, like many people are excited and thrilled about that. But for me, I just really like flying jet airplanes.
Q: At Daytona you talked about going there in '83 when you didn't even have a garage pass.
MARTIN: '84. Q: Do you have any different kind of experience of that, a close call of anything here that when you come to the Brickyard it makes you want to win this race?
MARTIN: Yeah, I've got a story. I'm not sure which year it was, but it was the year that Ricky (Rudd) won. We were in a battle with Jeff Gordon and someone else for the championship. I know it was early August, but you got to race every race like that. That was late '90s, I guess it was. We had a history of running out of gas. Huge history of running out of gas, including running out with 25 miles togo running at Daytona. Thought we could make it all the way. So when I passed Ricky Rudd, and I was running I believe third, I know Gordon was in front of me and probably the other car that we were worried about for the championship. A caution came out, and I had just passed Ricky.We were strong. Those two pitted for gas. Jack (Roush) said we could make it on gas, and Steve Hmiel's like, "Hmm, hmm." Jack says we can make it on gas. And Steve's like (imitating) and I'm like (imitating), I've run out at least 50 times, you know. So I followed those guys in, and Ricky won the race. So, you know, had I stayed out, Jack swears we had plenty of gas. I don't know. But, you know, that was our win. If we could have. You know, we just had such a horrible history on gas mileage, and that continues right to Phoenix this year. But that's my story. That's my story on here. That was our the race that the two guys pulled out with 15 laps to go or whatever. And no way anybody was coming from behind, because I had already passed Ricky and was driving on.But I was more worried about points than winning the Brickyard at the time.We see how that worked out for me.
MODERATOR: I believe that was 1997 that year. MARTIN: OK.
Q: What do you need from yourself, the car and the conditions in order to make your prediction come true tomorrow and get that win?
MARTIN: I need to make absolutely no mistakes. I have to be on my game and make absolutely no mistakes. My team just needs to do their routine work on pit road. They are on it, on their game. And the other important part of it is we need to get the car wired in in happy hour as awesome as it was today in qualifying. Then we need to keep it wired in tomorrow, and we need the strongest guys in the field to not get wired in better. Then we need all those things I talked about. We need gas to not get in the way, because I won't have the longest gas mileage of people out there. So I don't think I'll win it on gas mileage, so we need to not lose it on gas mileage. We need all the other scenarios to lineup perfectly so that somebody doesn't do something that puts them in a position you know, positions themselves ahead of us at the end and me not having enough race car to get by them. So you're asking an awful lot, and I realize that. I respect how hard it is to win these races. This team needs, you know, and I don't I didn't feel like when I made this statement I didn't feel like Babe Ruth pointing at where he was going to knock it out. Maybe it was, but I didn't mean it that way. But I did mean that we were going to come here and be strong. I feel like that no matter what happens tomorrow, I can half way save face on that because we were top 10 in both practices, and we qualified second. So, I think that prediction is coming true.
Q: You talked about ... actually you mentioned babe Ruth and you wanted to declare winning this race. What's that going to mean for your fan base?
MARTIN: You know, to me it would mean a lot to my fans, and it would mean alot to a lot of race fans. Because a lot of race fans that aren't my fans,you know, would be happy to see for me. But I don't think of it in terms of what it would be for me or my trophy ora ny of that. When I think about it, I think about DEI and Tony Gibson and the guys, everybody at DEI. They've weathered the storm from this time lastyear, you know, with the merger. Because with Dale Jr.'s departure and allof that, they deserve a lot of credit for keeping that program together and keeping it strong. I really feel fortunate to be driving their car. It could have definitelygone the other way. It could have all crumbled. They could have allowed itto crumble, and they all could have ran for cover, but they just not to.They just to keep it together and be strong. I'm proud to be a part of it.
MODERATOR: Mark, thank you, and thank you so much for coming back. MARTIN: Thank you, guys. .