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July 26, 2009
KERRY THARP: We're pleased to be joined now in the media center by our race runner-up of today's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, that's Mark Martin. His runner-up finish today moves him up to ninth in the points standings.
Mark, just a good afternoon of racing for you. Your thoughts about how things unfolded.
MARK MARTIN: Well, you know, I'm grateful to my race team, Alan, all the guys on the 5 car, Rick Hendrick. You know, I was hoping to be in the fray, and we were definitely in that. Drove my heart out. Gave it everything I had.
I'm actually just grateful that I had a chance to race for the win. Would have liked to have won it, but got beat by Superman.
KERRY THARP: Questions for Mark Martin.
Q. We had a discussion yesterday about the fact that in your position in the points, worrying about getting into the Chase, had you to kind of temper things when you were going for a win. When Jimmie was on your outside, did you worry about that, or was it all out going for what you could?
MARK MARTIN: You can't win if you wreck. I was driving as fast as I could without wrecking, man.
Q. You got to think someday it's going to be your day in one of the these events.
MARK MARTIN: You can say what you want, but I've had some days this year. That's not the way to approach me. It's been my day this year, all year. I'd love to have won the race. But I'm very grateful to have had a chance at it. I got beat. I didn't get her done. But I gave it my heart. So did my race team. I'm grateful for it.
Q. Does it ever wear on you thinking of all these second-place finishes in big events?
MARK MARTIN: It's better than 42nd, man.
Q. Could you compare Jimmie today to your first impression of him as a rookie driver on this series.
MARK MARTIN: Well, a rookie driver in the Nationwide Series or rookie season in the 48?
MARK MARTIN: He's just got more experience. He was a fierce competitor the day he strapped in that 48 car. Didn't seem like a lot of learning curve for him.
But, you know, they have gotten stronger and better. Their communication's really good, between him and Chad. His cape don't get tangled around his neck much. He gets her done.
Q. During your pole conference you mentioned the fact that you were happy to be just in the fray, you were expecting a dogfight today. Did you end up in the dogfight with the drivers you expected to be in with?
MARK MARTIN: Yeah. I expected it to be Montoya and Jimmie, yeah. And I also expected the 9. When I look up there, I didn't miss that by much. The 14, I knew he'd be strong, Tony. The guys that I expected to run good ran good today.
Those race teams, they're getting it done right now. Kasey Kahne, Montoya, all those guys. They're getting her done. It's pretty much what I expected. It was an awesome team effort by everybody at the 5 car. I'm just a lucky guy to get to drive it.
KERRY THARP: This is Mark's 10th top 10 this year, 2009. It's your 10th top 10 here at Indianapolis, too. Congratulations.
Q. It seemed like the cars that were fast at the beginning of the race were the same cars that were fast at the end. Would you say that had to do with the race starting early in the day? Why is that?
MARK MARTIN: That's a good point. I guess it's just circumstances. This tire, the way it reacted, was very consistent through the run. The track was very consistent today. The balance didn't change on the cars very much. So pretty much what you had when you started, if you were good, you were gonna be good. And if you were not good, it was probably going to be a challenge to get real good on the pit stop.
Q. Last couple laps you had some runs on Jimmie. Was there anywhere on the track you thought you could get around him the last two laps?
MARK MARTIN: Yes, absolutely. I was beating Jimmie pretty bad off of turn two. I knew that for the last 15 laps for sure. But he was beating me pretty bad off of four. I was gonna have to make it happen off of two. I made some great runs. But I really thought several of the times I was gonna hit the wall over there. I absolutely could not go any faster. In fact, I can't believe I didn't. The third to the last lap, the last lap both, I went through there beyond my good judgment to get those runs. It just wasn't enough.
Q. Your view of the side-by-side start and how you made your choice which side to be on.
MARK MARTIN: You know, I think the restarts did their job again today. They changed the outcome. I think the only way you're gonna make it exciting at the end of the day is change the outcome, that way you have to watch. You don't know what's gonna happen. You never know when there's gonna be a caution or a 'green-white-checkered'. When you have that, it doesn't matter which lane you choose, when you stack the other driver next to you, anything can happen anywhere back in there, as you saw at Chicago.
That rule is for the fans. You're gonna win some and lose some on it.
Q. You mentioned you were so much better off of two and Jimmie was good off of four. It would seem to be similar corners. Why would it be different on each end?
MARK MARTIN: You know, you can ask any driver, Tony will tell you, they are the same, but they are not anywhere like the same. They're four completely different corners. I don't know how that can be when they visually appear to be the same.
TONY STEWART: I know, but I'm not telling you (laughter).
MARK MARTIN: He knows, but he's not telling me. I'm pretty dumb. All I can tell you, when I drive it, I know they look alike, but they're not alike.
Q. Can you talk about Montoya. Talk about his race, what happened to him.
MARK MARTIN: I feel really bad. If I or my teammates couldn't have won this race, I was absolutely pulling for Juan. They sure had the car today.
But, you know, they'll keep doing that. Their day will come. But it's tough. It's happened to every one of us, those days you'll have. The great days are still coming for them.
Q. Can you go through the last restart for us, what happened there.
MARK MARTIN: Well, I got a reasonable start there. Was really looking optimistic. But I never got quite clear him on the straightaway, then he got the side draft, just pulled him completely up beside me. I just didn't manage to get a good enough jump. I tried to get a good one, and it was good, but I needed another three feet to clear him. If I'd have done that, you know, then the race would have been on. I still might not have been able to stay in front of him for a few laps. His car was better early, and mine was better later in runs.
Anyway, side draft pulled him back up there beside me. Going into that corner side-by-side, I went as fast as I could go without wrecking. Wasn't sure. I wasn't sure I wasn't gonna wreck anyway. I knew it was for the win. I did everything I could.
KERRY THARP: Mark, thank you very much. Great job out there today. Good luck at Pocono.
MARK MARTIN: Thank you, guys.
KERRY THARP: Our third-place finisher in today's race, still our points leader in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Tony Stewart. Tony has 192-point lead over Jimmie Johnson. Tony, talk about your showing out there this afternoon.
TONY STEWART: Pretty satisfied with it. Obviously you want to win here at Indy. You do every week. But we had a solid starting position, a good pit selection on pit road. We had one little hiccup in the pits. We got to the top three or four there pretty early. That was kind of our spot. We had one stop that got us back to seventh or eighth. We were able to get two of those spots pretty quick. It took the rest of the race to get the rest of the way up there.
We just never really could mount a charge to Mark or Juan. Obviously, Juan was in a league of his own most of the day. Mark was really, really good on long runs. We just seemed at the halfway point, we never -- even before that, we got to where we were a little bit too tight in the center of the corner, never could quite adjust out of it, get it freed up there. Seemed like we either made the exit free back to the gas or else we made the entry and the exit free trying to help it turn the center. But we never could get the center right without messing the entry and exit up.
To finish third, I'm pretty satisfied with that.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Tony Stewart.
Q. Without that speeding penalty, did it look line Juan had the field covered today? He had a 16-second advantage over 10th place at one point.
TONY STEWART: Yeah, I mean, I firmly believe if that didn't happen, we were all going to have a hard time with him for sure. He never really was challenged all day. He could get out front there. Even when we got to traffic, it would slow him down a little bit. Seemed like it slowed all of us down when we got to traffic like that.
He did a great job today. I know what he's feeling like. It's got to make him sick inside 'cause, I mean, to be able to accomplish what he would have accomplished today, just a remarkable feat. And he had the car and he had the talent to do it today. He just made a mistake and it cost him.
Q. How good was Juan's car and how much of it was clean air? Didn't look like you were able to pass a lot out there.
TONY STEWART: Yeah, but he still drove away from the field. You know, even if you had a car that was quicker than the guys in front of you, you could still get up so far and then kind of struggle with it and get kind of stuck there at times until the guy's tires got wore out.
I mean, he just consistently through a run would drive away from the field. I don't know that if he ever got passed, if it might have changed things a little bit. But he was able, every lap he was able to stay out there, out front like that, every stop he kept being able to dial into those conditions. That's the advantage you have being up front like that. When it comes down to go time at the end of the day, he's fine tuning because he's been up there all day.
It was gonna make it harder and harder as the day went on for him to lose the lead like that.
Q. Towards the end of the race when Juan got pushed back, you made an adjustment to make it free. Did you ever feel like you had a car that had a chance of winning?
TONY STEWART: We never could get it to rotate the center of each corner. Like I said, every time we made an adjustment, we either didn't make it respond. It didn't respond or else it made the exit too free or the entry and exit too free. We never could hit on exactly what it wanted to enter the center. We just messed the entry and exit up.
Q. The cars seemed to separate by four or five car lengths. Are the days of running bumper-to-bumper kind of over? Was that a fluke today?
TONY STEWART: When was the last time, other than stock car racing, you saw any kind of bumper-to-bumper racing here? That's my question to you. Have you seen that in the last 30 years here?
Q. But the separation like today.
TONY STEWART: Still closer racing with stock cars than any other division that races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Q. I wasn't disputing the racing. I was wondering why they separate.
TONY STEWART: Technology. I mean, technology advances, aerodynamics advance, packages get so close, you're gonna have that. That's just evolution. You can't stop that. There's no way. NASCAR does the best job I think that it can at putting a rules package in place that makes that possible. You look at how close Jimmie and Mark ran at the end of the race there. You don't see that close of racing in any other division that races here. I'm scared that everybody's gonna write, Nobody can pass. We all made it full fuel runs. Nobody had tire problems today. There was good racing out there. I mean, you aren't going to see the days where guys are swapping positions all the time left and right. The competition has got so tough in IndyCar racing, Formula One, NASCAR. All the series that have serious technology involved, that's what you're gonna have. Somebody's gonna figure it out. If you're a little bit off, you're not going to be able to make up that deficit.
Just the evolution of racing. It happened in Formula One first. It happened in IndyCar next. It's here now. It still was a good race. Where I was sitting in third, it was still an entertaining show. I didn't know, after watching Jimmie and Mark go into turn three, who was going to come off of turn four leading the race. It's not that you couldn't be there, you had to time it right to get to a guy's bumper like that.
Q. Sitting in the position you're in, looking for wins at the end of the season, you end up third, how do you feel this works for you?
TONY STEWART: I take that we ran third at the Brickyard 400. There's no shame in that. 43 cars and we ran third today. To come here with a new package, a new crew chief, to run third our first time here together, I think that's a lot to be proud of.
Of course, yeah, perfect world, we all want to get those extra 10 bonus points. At the same time, I mean, you still got to be consistent each week. You don't have to win a race in the Chase to win the championship. You could sit there and run third or fourth every week and have a realistic shot easily to win the championship. To go out there and be consistent, we ran fourth at Chicago, we come here and run third, we're doing the things that we need to do. It didn't get us those 10 bonus points, but it may not come down to those 10 points at the end of the year.
KERRY THARP: Tony, thank you very much. Good run. We'll see you at Pocono.
TONY STEWART: Thank you.
KERRY THARP: We'll call up our Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, Joey Logano. Outstanding finish here today for Joey. Talk about your run out there.
JOEY LOGANO: We started too far in the back after we changed motors and started in the rear, one of the toughest places to pass. I just figured that out the hard way. I think if it was Charlotte or somewhere, you could have a couple lanes, it would be a lot easier. I think we had good restarts. We were able to pass a lot of cars then. Everyone was running the same speed, like Tony was saying.
Made it tough if you were running in the back. I think we had a lot better car than where we finished. It is what it is. Come back next time. Cool part is, The Home Depot Toyota ran good at Indy, so that's pretty neat, for the first time here. Had fun with it. Learned a lot. We'll come next time and I think we'll be even better.
Q. Can you chart your progress. Where are you now versus where you thought you'd be at this time? Is it harder, easier?
JOEY LOGANO: I think it's a lot better than it was in the beginning of the year, that's for sure.
Q. Relative to your own expectations.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I think I'm getting close. Obviously I'm always wanting to be better. I think that's something that got me this far. Never good enough. I can tell you what, those guys winning those races every weekend have the same mentality. Never die, keep digging, figure all this out. The motivating part is I'm getting better every week, going to some of these places for the first time, like here, running better than we would at the beginning of the season at a first-time place. That's motivating to me.
Q. Touch a little on what your first experience at Indy was like. You did start 43rd and ended up passing 31 cars to get up to 12th place. You were passing some people. Did it get harder to pass cars as you got closer to the front?
JOEY LOGANO: Usually does, yeah (laughter). I expected that. I thought we had a good racecar that we could get up there with it. Starting the race, I thought we still got a solid shot at a top 10 if some things played in our favor. If you look at it, not many cars wrecked. There really wasn't any spots given to you. You pretty much had to work for every one of them.
Every time I restarted, it was on the outside. It would never work in turn one. I think if you really save your spot, on the restarts, instead of losing two spots, passing those two back, passing a couple more, if you were able to save that, pass four cars, that will add up after two or three restarts. What am I supposed to do about that? I really can't do nothing.
Overall, yeah, I think it was a good day. Everyone worked hard. We had a really good racecar through practice. It showed today in the race.
Q. What do you think about it in general?
JOEY LOGANO: It's cool just to be here. Like I said earlier, to have a good racecar at Indy was really fun. To be passing cars, not getting passed, is always fun at any racetrack. I wish we had more time or started up closer. We might have had something closer to front. Every time I got around a car, got some clean air, I was like, Wow, a lot better now, holy smoke. It was a matter of getting around a lot of guys.
Q. What was it like to race with Juan Pablo at the very end?
JOEY LOGANO: He had a good car. My car took off better than his did. I was able to get around him on the restart. I was trying to run down the 17 for all I was worth. I think I was behind him the whole race. It sure felt like it. I could get to him but never passed him. I'm going to get him before this race is over.
I kept pushing, digging. Eventually wore out the right front tire. Juan came. Every spot is a big deal. Almost, but, yeah, I think we had fun. We raced each other hard, but pretty clean, too, at the same time. So it was pretty good.
Q. You said you learned a lot. Any one thing that stands out that you'll take from here that you learned?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I learned a little bit of things about the line when I'm behind cars, what I can do to make my car a little bit better, how to pass is pretty much the biggest deal. If I didn't figure that out today, I wasn't going to learn anything. Definitely learned a few things being behind the 39, trying to pass him for 10 laps or so. Trying to get the run just right to get to him. Had to work on certain spots of the track knowing where you're best, where he's worst, figure all this stuff out, put a plan together, have everything work out just right to get underneath somebody.
I was behind him for the longest time. I finally passed. I was like, Yeah. That was like a win, as tough as it was. Got to do that 31 times, so it was tough.
Q. Mark Martin is 31 years older than you.
JOEY LOGANO: And kicking my butt (laughter).
Q. In 2040, do you envision yourself being able to do what he's been doing this year?
JOEY LOGANO: Hopefully I'm as good as Mark Martin is at that age. Pretty amazing to see him go out there and run that good. I went up to him before qualifying, Man, what the heck did you do, after he made his run. He said, I just tried to scare myself every corner. Well, I guess I'll try.
It's cool to see, you're out there racing against someone that helped you out a lot in your career. Hopefully we can run a little better coming up here in the second half of the season, be up there racing with him.
Q. How frustrating do you think this must be for Juan, having the car he had? And how good do you think your car was if you started up a little further? Do you think it was a top five car here or could you have won here?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I think as far as Juan, I didn't even know what happened to him. I actually didn't know he was leading the whole race. I was just racing him like he's any other car around me. He had a good car. It went to show when we were around each other, we were about the same speed. I think we had a good racecar, like Juan did.
Yeah, if we started where we were supposed to, 18th, passed cars from there, would we have finished better? Of course, we would have. We had a better racecar than where we finished. You don't know until you get up there because you can finish 12th and say, I could have finished in the top five. You don't know that till you're up there. Cars change a lot as you get further in the back. Cars drive a lot different. As you get up there, every spot means more, every spot is harder to pass. You don't know when your car is going to be doing when you get there.
Do I think we had a better car than where we finished? Of course, I do. Did we have a car to win? I don't know. Maybe could have had a top five, seven or eight, somewhere in there.
KERRY THARP: Joey, thank you.
JOEY LOGANO: Thank you.
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