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GINN RACING MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 20, 2007
KEVIN WOODS: I want to welcome everyone. Thank you for calling in today. We also want to thank Mark Martin, Regan Smith and Ricky Carmichael for joining us. And we'll briefly introduce the three of them, ask them a question. Then we'll open it up to questions from everybody out there. Of course, Regan will be making his first Cup start this weekend at Bristol in the 01 U.S. Army Chevy. Ricky will be making his stock car debut at Columbia Motorsports Park, Lake City, Florida. And Mark Martin, Nextel Cup points leader, will be staying at home on Sunday to watch the race on television and he'll be helping with Ricky on Saturday night. So Regan, if you could just comment a little bit about stepping into the car this weekend and how excited you are about your debut.
REGAN SMITH: I'm excited to be stepping into the U.S. Army Chevrolet this weekend. And it's an awesome team. Ryan Pemberton, and all the guys have been doing an awesome job all year long. And Mark has had a great year leading the points, turning the reigns over to me, it's pretty big deal to hop in as a rookie into the car that's leading points and driver points.
So looking forward to it and want to go up and have a strong showing and finish all the laps. And then just try to get lots of experience and move on from there and gain experience to take to Martinsville.
Q. Ricky, you seem to be having a lot going out here. You have a debut of your own coming up Saturday night in Lake City. But you're also a proud father of a couple of twins?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: Yes, it's been an amazing week for me, no doubt about it. And you know everything worked out and I had a, you know, an addition, a boy and a girl. And we got that done and I was able to finish up my last supercross race and that went very, very good and just really, really excited about this weekend.
But I'm nervous. But it's a good nervous. It's a great feeling that I haven't had in a long time. And all the talking is about to stop now, because it's time to start here.
Q. Mark, you're kind of winding down on what your streak was. But jumping into the next chapter what you have going on at Ginn Racing, can you comment on what you're doing to get Regan ready for his debut and Ricky this weekend?
MARK MARTIN: Regan, he's ready. He's displayed great speed, great adaptability. Testing with Regan on more than one occasion. Worked up with him at Bristol. The guys have a good race car and a great race team.
And Regan's biggest challenge at Bristol will be to try to avoid everyone else's troubles. Obviously we'd like to see him run all 500 laps, and that's not easy to do even for a veteran up there.
So it's going to be an interesting weekend, but we think the world of Regan as a person, young man, and as a really bright new star coming into the NASCAR Nextel Cup series. So we look forward to being a part of his rise to success. And, of course, going to have a lot of fun this weekend with Ricky.
Not everyone that follows stock car racing realizes the kind of impact that Ricky Carmichael has had in his career and is a huge force in motor sports. And this is the first step in converting from two wheels to four. And we're going to take it easy and not try to get in too deep here on this first race. And kind of find out what it's all about.
And then kind of ramp it up with each event following this first weekend, each event that we'll be going to will be stepping up the amount of competition and the number of car count and all that. But this weekend is all about getting comfortable in the race car and getting comfortable with other cars around. And it's just going to be -- it's going to be a lot of fun.
I really feel privileged at this point in my career to have a chance to work with great rising young drivers like Ricky and Regan.
Q. Ricky, I was surprised you didn't name them "Super" and "Moto".
RICKY CARMICHAEL: Come on. (Chuckling).
Q. Are you going to do any motorcross, any two-wheel competition planned in the next couple of years?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: Going to do six outdoors and then the Motorcross of Nations is in America this year. And I'm going to do that. That's September. And then the rest is history for me. I've had all the fun I can stand and just really looking forward to driving. To be honest with you, that's where my head's been the last, I would say, four, 5 weeks.
And it's been hard to stay motivated and focused on the two-wheel side of things. I've just been looking forward to that.
Q. Are you getting ready to bull does your supercross track in the backyard and have Mark come down and help you build a little short track?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: I already built a little dirt track and got some carts and stuff on it. It's a pretty nice deal there. But I keep my supercross track there. I got a guy that rides with me, a young buck coming up.
And that's my roots. And I enjoy to watch the young kids coming up.
Q. The last motorcross-related question, with you out there, is there really anybody that's going to touch James?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: I don't think anyone is in his level right now. But you know it's not going to be like he's just going to go out and dominate since I'm gone. You know, obviously, when he races me, we definitely run off from the pack.
But racing in any form of racing, you only do what you have to do to win. If one of those guys, Mark or Regan went to a local race, I'm sure it would be all they could do to beat some of the local guys.
But you throw those local guys in a Cup car and they wouldn't even qualify. So that's just the nature of the sport. And that's just a natural thing that occurs is he's only going to do what he has to do to win.
But no one is really in his league, though. There really is no one in his league.
Q. Ricky, I watched you stay night at the Citrus Bowl 42,000 fans screaming your name and now everything is going to be a little different this Saturday night. I mean mentally, do you have to readjust your thought plan because basically you're just starting out another new career here?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: Absolutely. It's a whole new thought plan. And for me it's my first race. So I can drive the car; it's just now being in a racing situation, I think it's a really great time for me to learn some more. Every time I get behind the car it seems like I learn and learn.
And now being out there with some other drivers, it's going to be tough. To be honest with you, I don't know what to expect. I just want to do my best and be in there. And I'll have a better guideline of what I think my potential is as a racer after this weekend.
Q. Have you ever even seen Columbia Motorsports Park?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: Just from what I've seen on the Internet. Just from that. But, no, I've never been there. As long as I've lived in Florida, I haven't been there.
Q. Mark, are you going to be in radio contact with Ricky during the race?
MARK MARTIN: Yes. I probably won't be with Matt. The last time I spotted for Matt I stood there and watched a wreck happen in front of him and watched him drive, drive, drive right into it and I never said a word. So I quit spotting because I kept thinking about what would I do, what would I do, what would I do.
So, yeah, I'll be on the radio with Ricky and Matt and the guys that help him normally do an incredible job. And I'll just be a proud dad of Matt. But I'll watching them both.
Q. Regan, difficult enough to just jump in a Cup car after the season started like this, but can you talk about what it's like to be in the point leader's car?
REGAN SMITH: Obviously it's an honor and privilege first off to be getting into the point leader's car and to further that, it's an honor and privilege to share a seat with Mark Martin. I've watched Mark since I was a little kid and I think that's been well documented all year that it's somebody I grew up watching and had a lot of respect for just the way he handled himself around the racetrack and on the racetrack and just in general, the respect he's had for the sport.
And it's a pretty big shoes for me to fill, definitely. And I just want to go out there and do the U.S. Army team proud. And a finish is going to be great for us this weekend especially if we can finish all the laps. If we don't finish all the laps still finish the race and be clean all day long. That's going to be an accomplishment.
Q. Do you anticipate being racy or just kind of -- you're not getting paid to ride?
REGAN SMITH: I definitely don't get paid to ride. I'm a race car driver, I'm a competitor. Any time I'm on that racetrack I'll be racing I'd love nothing else to be rubbing shoulders with Tony Stewart for the end of the race. But the he same time you've got to grow and you've got to mature. I've never been in a 500-lap race before. This will be the first one for me.
So there's going to be a little bit of a learning process there to where I've got to learn how to take care of the car for that long and to pace myself to make sure we're around at the end and to make sure we're good at the end.
So I'm definitely going to go out there to be racy. I'm not riding, that's for sure.
Q. Do you take any inspiration maybe from how quickly Montoya has adapted? If he can come in with no stock car experience at least you've got a leg up on him from that perspective. Doesn't seem like the transition phase is as difficult as maybe has been in the past.
REGAN SMITH: I don't know. He's a talented race car driver first off. If you take a good race car driver place them in any situation they'll figure out how to make it work.
With that being said, I've raced against a lot of these guys for three years now on and off full time last year and full time with the Busch car this year. I know I've gone with them and I know I've got the talent and ability and we've had some good tests and I'm confident in myself, definitely. It's just a matter of getting through that first race and not doing anything stupid.
There's always little things as a rookie you're going to have to learn as you go and they're going to see that stripe on the back of the car and it's going to remind them it's not Mark Martin this week, definitely. I was joking with the guys, I was at the shop here earlier today and the stripe on the back of the car is neon yellow. It's not like even Army yellow it doesn't fade in with the race car. Stands out pretty big time.
Q. I want to talk to Mark and ask him: Mark, number one, when you finish the top in points and walk out that way in consecutive finishes it's kind of a cool way to do it in a way. And I was talking to Jeff Burton about that last night but how did you feel with the point situation and stepping out the way you did on the full schedule?
MARK MARTIN: Well, it feels good. Certainly the way that you would like to do it. And it's been a long consecutive number, 621 and the last four have been some of the best of my career. So I look forward to moving forward and carrying out my plan, and I look forward to watching the race on Sunday.
And I'm just really grateful for all the fan support that I've had, especially over the last year. And the incredible effort that's been made by Ryan Pemberton and all the guys that have worked so hard for so many years at that race team and suffered so many setbacks.
I think that they finally have gotten the recognition and the credit that they deserve. Incredible race team, having Ernie taken from them, Jerry taken from them, having gone through so many drivers. They've had an incredible team. And they've got a chance to show it, really show it this year.
Q. That's a really good point. And cool of you to mention that. I want to ask you about the race on Sunday. You said you were going to maybe have a cook-out at your house for friends that lived in your neighborhood. I'm guessing you'll have to buy a bigger TV. The fans have all kinds of things hooked up to watch it. How would you watch a race? Do you have a big screen or something?
MARK MARTIN: Yes, I've got a nice 42-inch plasma and Tivo. So I'll be replaying the wrecks moving them back and going forward and watching them in slow motion. So I will sorely be disappointed if there isn't lots of wrecks, because it seems like there sure is every time I go -- every time I'm in the race there.
So there probably will be again. I think that it's going to be interesting seeing the car tomorrow in its first race. Seriously, I'm just going to hang out. Barbecue a little bit and hang out and watch the race.
But the biggest thing, I expect to be having a blast Saturday night with Ricky and Matt and everyone. And I look forward to just being relaxed on Sunday.
Q. Mark, kind of a follow-up to what Claire asked. Having been a four time series runner-up and now having the points lead and stepping back for the next couple of races, was it kind of a heart wrenching decision to make? Was it really hard to come to that final decision to not race these next two races?
MARK MARTIN: No, I've done it for 621. (Chuckling) you know, the people that are saying that they can't believe it, they haven't lived it. Not only have I been doing it for 19 years straight, but I've been doing it successfully for 19 years straight.
I've only had one year that really wasn't a great year by anyone's standards. Been in the top 10 in points every year but three in 19. So you know with that comes great responsibility to your sponsors, to the media, to the fans and to your team, to continue all those expectations and to continue to fight for a championship.
You don't want to this year, so it hasn't been gut wrenching at all. I mean I've had mixed emotions but it's not been about the championship. It's about racing in general. But I'm excited that I don't have to worry about chasing the championship and making the chase.
And it's been a lot of stress for a lot of years and I don't have that weight on my shoulders anymore. Certainly don't have it in 2007.
Q. Not necessarily because of the Daytona 500, but what do you think there is about Harvick that makes him such a rival and tough driver out there?
A. Well, Kevin is a driven, incredibly talented, driven young man, who has really focused on what he does and has been since the first time I saw him drive a Craftsman truck.
Q. Mark, I heard somebody talk the other day about if there wasn't a chase you might have a different perspective on continuing your season. Is that an accurate statement? If there was no chase, if it was the old point system, would you consider continuing the season and racing every race this year?
MARK MARTIN: No, I don't even understand what kind of logic went behind that. I don't understand that. I've been planning on cutting back for quite some time now. And just had to forego that plan in 2006 in order to help out, bail out the team I love, the car that I felt very much a part of, the No. 6 car. And Jack Rausch who was responsible for most of the success I've had in NASCAR.
Now I'm carrying out that plan. Just had a delay in, a bump in the road but now I'm carrying out that plan. And I'm not interested in chasing that championship. I've done that for 19 years and I've had a great career. And 2007 isn't the year to do that anymore.
I have got some other things that I'm very interested in doing, pursuing. And my life, there are portions of my life that are passing, have been passing me by. And I'm going to try to capture a couple of little pieces of that at age 48.
It's never too late.
Q. I noticed Jeff Burton was talking with you and he had a bet whether or not you would go to Bristol. What was the bet now that it's pretty much a done deal and what does he owe you?
MARK MARTIN: He didn't bet me. I don't know who the bets were with. I really don't know. Matt Kensis and Jeff Burton were the two that were speculating. Neither, I don't think -- I don't know for sure. I know Matt thought that I was going to continue on. And I'm not sure where Burton stood.
But Jeff Burton didn't get a particularly real early start in his career. And he's got -- you give him another eight years and see what he's got to say about it. And you give Matt Kensis 13 years of this more, see what he says.
The people that are speaking about this stuff, you know, just haven't walked in my shoes yet. And I appreciate -- I certainly appreciate where they're coming from, but I know what I was like when I was 35 years old. Couldn't fathom this day either.
But the schedule sucks every ounce of time that you have. It sucks it all out and I've given everything. And racing has come first in my life, not my family. I haven't had a sick day in 19 years. I haven't missed a day's work.
So I laid out a different schedule for 2007.
Q. Mark, you've been sitting here and we've beat you to death man for the last month about this staying in the car and whatnot. On that note, 621 straight weeks of racing, what's the best day of your career? And I remember it was in '98 what not when you had the bad back problem and your guys had to put you in the race car, what was the worst time?
MARK MARTIN: The worst time of my career was Sunday night after Watkins Glen, when I walked into the hangar and my wife said that my dad had been in a plane crash. And my dad's nickname was Cat, and he was called that because he had to have had nine lives. When she told me that I thought, oh that one probably really hurt. Never dreaming that he could not survive anything.
And we were in a championship battle that year with Jeff Gordon. And we did our deal and buried my dad in a hurry so that I could hurry and get to the racetrack on Thursday at Michigan.
And I raced my Busch car in Michigan and raced the Cup car in Michigan and I led the race and led the race a whole lot and the caution came out. We had the race in the bag. And a caution came out late in the race and, I don't know, whatever exchange in the pit stops that happened, I got passed right at the end.
And the emotion just was more than I could take. And I felt some different about it ever since. I don't know if I should have took a sick day that day or what. But that was the worst day of my career.
And the best day of my career has been so many days of the realization of the incredible respect that has been given to me by the competitors and the fans. And especially all the cheers on every driver introduction for the last year, that's what's the best day -- those are the best days of my career.
Q. Ricky, how much have you actually done in a stock car to get ready for this?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: I have a little bit of time, obviously, now under my belt. Enough to where I don't have to count no more. But obviously I still lack many, many, many hours. But that's part of the process. And I'm looking forward to getting much more seat time and just super excited that it's starting this weekend.
Q. I remember you watching Jeremy off the track I think in your first race. How tough is it going to be for you to just take things easy and not go for the front, even though you know that --
RICKY CARMICHAEL: I think I've learned a lot through my motorcross career and supercross career to have them patience. And I know it's going to take a while to get where we want to be and to get to our goal.
And we have to do what we have to do. And as far as me doing anything, I don't think that I'm going to be the guy that's doing anything. I think that I'm going to have a bullet on my back or the car, there's no doubt about it. But it seems that it's been that way for my whole career in motorcycle racing. So I'll be used to it.
It won't bother me. It's not if it's going to happen, it's when it's going to happen. I'm not out there to ruffle any feathers. I'm more interested on taking care what I have to do and progressing and trying to make this whole deal happen and look at the long-term goal, where Regan and Mark are.
Q. You worked with Jeff Bendick when you first came up there with Kawasaki. Now you have a guy like Mark. How lucky are you to have two veteran guys like that to help you out and are there any similarities between the two?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: Absolutely. Jeff was really good at looking beyond and not just looking lap for lap and looking at the big picture. And he was very, very good mentally. It always seemed like he said the right things.
And I don't really like for people to sugar coat things. If you're having a bad day and you ain't cutting the mustard you need to be told that you ain't no good. But at the same time there's a certain way of going about it and just from the times that I've been able to work with Mark, he gives me that confidence that I really need at this stage.
If he's blowing smoke or not it makes me feel really good. But he's been incredible for me. He's ridden a motorcycle in his day. And there are a lot of things that relate.
And it's been a pleasure and I have a lot of trust in him and I listen to every word he says and it's just an honor. That's what I told everybody. When I did my deal again and I heard that he was coming, I could not believe it. And it's simply been a pleasure. And I'm blessed to have him in my corner. There's no doubt about it.
Q. Wanted to ask Mark, in the last few years the sports scene, new structure for the points, the Lucky Dog rule and now there's Car of Tomorrow among other things. With your vast years of experience in the sport is this a more proactive period on NASCAR's part in making changes, or did you see this even years ago more so than maybe I did since I wasn't around in those years?
MARK MARTIN: No, there's more changing. But the world is changing faster, too. There's an enormous growth. You have more people, more brilliant minds working at NASCAR today than you had years ago, more fans, sponsors, more owners, obviously more coverage. More guys like you covering the sport so sure things are moving faster now than they did when I first got involved in the early 80s.
I think that the chase is the outstanding. It's fantastic. I think that some of the growth is really cool and some of the growth is maybe not so cool.
The one thing we all have to remember is that time can't sit still. Nothing ever sits still. And change is inevitable in almost every aspect of our lives.
Q. With that being said, how did the recent changes impact you as a driver, have to change how you do things and can you imagine somebody like Regan now who is just starting out, what he may be going through as his career goes from the last 10, 15, 20 years, what he'll experience.
MARK MARTIN: You know the driver, this is not the correct wording for it, but in the '80s the driver was the engineer. The driver was the guy that brought the wealth of knowledge and leadership to the team. Of course you had Jake elders and some of the guys that always their cars really ran good.
But still the team relied on the driver so much for direction on things. That's not the case anymore. We have engineering and so much high tech involved in the sport that now it is the sheer youth, skill, fearless, you know some of the things that are sharper when you're maybe younger than when you're older and yet that experience that you gain along the way isn't that big a premium as it was in the early days.
What I'm saying is the sport, along with the schedule, is becoming a young man's sport. And it will be very rare to see 50-year-old drivers that started at 20. 25-year careers in today's age at today's pace, which it will only get even greater, I don't think you're going to see that. I think the drivers will be burned out, as well as the crews, as well.
The schedule is the thing that I love racing and that's why I'm going to continue to drive race cars. But the schedule is what has driven a wedge, I think, in between some of the guys that have been in this sport so long. Especially if they've worked incredibly hard and been very successful. The more successful you are, the higher the demand is on you and the more it wears you down.
Q. Thank you. Ricky, we've got the supercross series coming here this weekend. Obviously a lot of people in this town wishing you hung around for one more week. But I was just wondering, when you came into that series, you were kind of replacing a legend with Jeremy McGrath, and now James Stewart is kind of facing that same situation, becoming the face of the sport in place of you. I wanted to ask you about some of the pressures maybe that he'll be feeling in being the man now?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: It's a tough role. And for me it was the physical part of it was the easy thing. It can mentally wear on you, like Mark was saying. It's so mentally tough on you.
And for me, the 10 years, I was always winning a championship and you were always under the gun to defend it. He's going to be under the same thing now. And you know it's his job as the champion and being the guy of the sport to take it to that next level as I tried to do after Jeremy left. Now he's the next guy to do that.
And it's a lot going on and it's a lot happening. So you definitely find out what people are made of in times like these. And for him, I think him being an African American, I think it's going to be tough for him to stay in that position for too long, because he has so many opportunities.
But it's going to be tough. But if he can surround himself with good people that have his best interests at heart and in mind, I think he can do it. But I'd be surprised if he makes it as long as I did or Jeremy did, just because of the opportunities that will come to him.
Q. How important, Ricky, is the series itself to have a marquee star to kind of have that one guy that people come out to watch?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: It's really important, because you know obviously supercross wants to be where NASCAR is, but unfortunately there's not enough parity. So we need that key guy. There was Jeremy, there was me now there's James.
Unless they can do something to make the racing better where 10 guys have a chance to win rather than one guy all the time, he's going to -- it's super important to have that one marquee guy.
And that's what I'm trying to do for the motorcycle racing is get it more like NASCAR, where you can come to a race and your guy has a chance to win, not just the same old guy all the time. So it's important right now that he's in there.
Q. My question for you is, Mark, after 621 you go home, how did you feel Sunday night and Monday and this morning compared to other times in your career?
MARK MARTIN: I really don't feel any different. You know, it's really proud I didn't have any idea we were still leading the points when I got out of the car Sunday. I was really pretty proud of that. But not as proud as my son Matt is. Sometimes he's hard to impress. But he seems to be very proud of that fact.
My Monday has been the same. My Tuesday has been the same. I've been incredibly business, trying to get everything done and caught up and organized so that I can possibly cruise somewhere along the way, but I don't know when that's going to be.
So I don't really feel any different at all. And I think that Sunday will be an eye-opener for me, kind of like it will be for Ricky. And for Regan as well. I think we're all in for an eye-opener, and I don't even know what to expect. I expect to enjoy watching the race and there might be a twinge in there along the way that I wish I was there. But I doubt it.
I think I'm going to enjoy the race and going to be grateful for the great career that I have had and for the great job -- I've got the best job in motor sports. I've told you that over and over again. I get to drive for a capable race team and a capable car when I want at the places I want to race at. And I couldn't ask for better than that.
Q. Any chance when you're off racing with Matt, Ricky, you might get in yourself and hot lap to help them with their setups?
MARK MARTIN: I can't fit in Matt's but I can fit in Ricky's and my stuff will be on board. I don't expect to, though. Testing, yes, I do. I mean testing -- I've tested the car Ricky is going to race over there. And Jesus Hernandez raced the car during speed weeks in preparation.
And we have hired Mike Fritz, who is a driver down here that is won tons of races in Florida in the Super Late Model Division, one of the best in Florida to come to work at our race shop, Mark Martin Performance, and be a part of our program. And he's hung up the helmet at least temporarily to help us get our program stronger.
So that's something I'm really excited about is having Mike Fritz added to the mix and we're going to do a lot of race and we're going to teach these kids how to race. Matt Bowers, Matt Martin, we're going to give him an opportunity to get better and we're going to get Ricky ready to move up to the big stuff here this summer. So it's going to be fun.
Q. Regan, is there in the quiet moments, has there been a motivational or inspirational conversation you've had with Mark that keeps running through your head as you get ready to go up there?
REGAN SMITH: Well, I think for me even today for instance listening in on the conference, the nice things Mark had to say at the beginning, for a young guy myself coming up through it's special to hear Mark say those comments.
As Ricky said earlier Mark is not the kind of guy that's going to BS you, he's going to shoot it straight.
That means a lot to me and that gives me confidence as a driver. But also at the same time when we've been off testing together and stuff like that, the things that Mark's done to help me at the test and the things that he said at the test to help me get better in the race cars and stock cars, whether it be the Cup cars or Busch cars?
Q. Can you take us inside that a little bit to share some of the things he said to you?
REGAN SMITH: There's not one thing, just to pinpoint and say exactly. It's just the little words of encouragement and the little things that he says. Like, for instance, at the Mexico race, Mark was watching the Mexico race. I had a problem at the end of the race there. We had a flat tire didn't get the finish we deserved.
He was watching, and he let me know that. And just to know that he's watching and that he's rooting for us still and even though he's not going to be in Bristol this weekend, I'm sure when I talk to him Monday he'll know everything that happened throughout the course of the race and that means a lot to me.
As I've said before I've looked up to him since I was four years old when I first started watching races on TV and that's pretty special?
MARK MARTIN: Bill, let me answer that question, too. Regan is humble and is exactly how I want him to be. And so, therefore, it's nice that he didn't tell you this. But I haven't gone faster in his race car yet. That's probably the biggest vote of confidence of all.
I've been in his car in Lakeland and Bristol, and I think that's the biggest thing. And that's a huge vote of confidence not only for Regan but for Ryan Pemberton and for me as well, about what he's fixing to embark on. We really believe in him and we know he's going to do well.
Q. For Ricky, Damian touched a little bit about this. But I want you to explain to us who have never driven anything competitively what the transition has been like coming off two wheels and going to four. I mean you know can you give us specifics about track time and just preparing yourself physically for the transition?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: You know the biggest thing for me has been just I'm learning something every time that I get in the car as opposed to a motorcycle. I've done it for so long, 22 years, that it was like putting on my shoes. For me it takes a lot more mental concentration in the car than a motorcycle. But the thing that is easier for me in a car is the physical aspect of it.
It's much easier. I'm not out of breath. And you know strength-wise, it's much easier for me. And so that's one good thing that I can turn over. And another thing you're always racing that's going to be the same no matter whether it's a motorcycle or a car. It's just learning what the car does and what the motorcycle does. And so the racing is always the same no matter what form of racing.
The biggest thing for me has been the amount of focus you have to have in a car as opposed to a motorcycle. I have to stay much more focused.
Q. Where have you been making laps? What tracks have you been working on just to try to get used to the sensation?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: I started out at Hickory North Carolina a few times. New Samerna and Lakeland those two tracks I've been to a few times. I've only been to Lakeland once but the others I've been to quite a few times. Not enough but that's fixing to pick up and we'll put in our time.
Q. Mark, I just want to tell you that there are a few athletes that go out on top and just commend you for sticking to your guns and doing what you want to do. Good luck this weekend?
MARK MARTIN: Thank you. It means a lot to me. And I really appreciate it. I watch (inaudible) Texas, wherever the race was that he won, it was his final IRL race. He won the Indy 500 that year, finished second in the points and won the last race. That was cooler than cool, man.
But this is pretty good too, to do it this way, thank you.
Q. Ricky he's going out on top too but at least he's got a full-time job?
MARK MARTIN: Yes. He's got his hands full. We're going to be working hard. He's a great young man with a tremendous work ethic and I know you know that.
RICKY CARMICHAEL: I was telling somebody this weekend, if you can write a book the only thing you have to do is change the names on the book. And I just felt bad for Mark, with all these people saying he's going to keep racing, going to keep racing, fortunately for me I got that out of the way a couple times and I just, you just get tired of hearing it. Now everyone can see that why they would never think he wasn't a man of his word. But just amazing why they wouldn't trust what he said.
And I think it's awesome, and I know he'll feel a load off his shoulders after this weekend is over so everyone will quit asking him that darn question.
Q. Now he could probably help you with learning how to change diapers.
Q. Mark, I was just wondering, when you're watching on TV this weekend, what will you be looking for out of the COT?
MARK MARTIN: Drivability. You know I wasn't -- I went up and did the test with Regan there. And helping him prepare and stuff. And to be real honest with you, when I came up on cars that had been out for a while on hot tires and were slower because of that, I wasn't comfortable when passing them.
You're not real comfortable in a regular car up there but the car of tomorrow is less comfortable yet. I think it's going to be a real challenge to put 43 of them out there and keep all the drivers under control because you have to go there and you have to pass and it's not comfortable being confined. In other words, you really feel that you need all the racetrack.
And so I'm going to be watching for the drivability of it. To be real honest with you, if NASCAR would just raise that splitter up, the car would be fine. There's nothing wrong with that car other than the splitter height. They're trying to take away 50% of the front end suspension travel. If they didn't do that, it wouldn't really be a big deal for the teams to get used to the rest of it, the wing. The rest of the car is just a car.
But when you cut that front suspension in half, now it becomes a problem. It's a shock to all of us. And now we don't know if it's because other things about the car or what. We don't know what to do.
You can't find a way to make the car drive as nice and as smooth as it did with double the suspension in the front.
Q. What about 2008, are you thinking full-time then?
MARK MARTIN: Let's please don't start talking about that yet.
Right now, you know, right now I've got the same schedule. I mean that's what the paperwork said that I signed, we did two years of the 22-race schedule with the option of adding or deleting. I haven't missed a race yet. I haven't even set Bristol out yet. So let's wait until September to talk about '08. That's when I talk to Jay and all about '08 is September and we won't be talking about it until then.
Q. For Ricky, what do supercross skills will transfer best to the stock car track?
RICKY CARMICHAEL: I think the racing mentality, the racing instincts and supercross, you have to be much more on your game. Everything is coming up to you so fast that there is a bit more focus in supercross than you need in the outdoor motorcross. So I think that's what will transfer. I think that will help me when there's more cars on the track with me I think that I could carry some of that over. But it's hard for me to really tell you what, because I haven't raced and I will be able to answer that more precisely next week for you.
Q. Regan, can you comment on having Mark Martin as a mentor and coach in your NASCAR quest?
REGAN SMITH: It's a huge opportunity for me to have Mark there to be able to talk to him and get knowledge from him. For instance, at the Bristol test, if I thought the car was good and he hopped into it and said, no, you'll have to be a little bit freer for this for the long runs and for the race, that's stuff I would have had to go through a race to learn to start with and instead now I've got that knowledge up front.
And just little things like that. There's so many other things. I've watched Mark. I've tried to kind of have the same respect for the sport and other drivers that he's had throughout my career. And it's a legend and that's all I can say about him. He's awesome.
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