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NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: POCONO 400 PRESENTED BY #NASCAR


June 10, 2012


Mark Martin

Tony Stewart


LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA

THE MODERATOR:¬† We'll start off our most race media availability with our three‑time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart, who drives the No.14 Mobil 1 Office Depot Chevrolet, finishing third today.
Tony, new pavement out there, fast, fast, fast, some great stuff at the end there.  Talk about how it looked from your view.
TONY STEWART:  Yeah, it was pretty hard, pretty hard to pass all day, but it kind of normally is.  I don't think it was really any worse than it normally is.  But seemed like the end of the race it got pretty racy there and guys could move around a little bit.  All in all, for a freshly paved track, it was a pretty good race.
It was frustrating the first half of the race until guys got their cars better.  You really just kind of got stuck, and then it seemed like the longer the race went, the easier it got to pass toward the end.
But the restarts were insane, but you had to take full advantage of them.  That was the biggest opportunity to make gains and definitely big gains.  You could get three or four at a time if somebody got bottled up a little bit.  Had to be on your toes for the restarts for sure.

Q.  You had some smoke in your car somewhere along the line?
TONY STEWART:  Not that I know of.

Q.  Half the field got busted for pit road speeding at some point today, and I just was wondering how big of a focus was the timing lines for you guys heading into the race?  Did you feel properly prepared for that going in?  What do you think was going on today?
TONY STEWART:  I don't know.  I mean, I was obviously being told from the crew chief that a lot of guys were getting busted in that last segment, so we just made sure and were a little bit on the conservative side that last bracket there.
But we didn't have any issues with it.¬† I mean, it just shows the guys are pushing the envelope so close on it that that's what creates a lot of it.¬† But it makes you wonder if something was going on in that particular segment because a lot of guys got busted in the same spot.¬† It wasn't necessarily‑‑ just seemed to be that last segment of pit road.¬† That's the only thing I can speculate is it seemed like it was the same spot for this, so there was a common denominator with everybody that got caught speeding, but I don't know what the reason would be for it.

Q.  Is that something you would focus on heading into a race weekend, or is this typically something that you would never worry about going in, a change in the timing lines from last year to this year?
TONY STEWART:  I mean, the crew chiefs go out there and they walk pit road and they can see where the lines are laid in the track, so you know exactly where they are per pit box basically.  So it's not a secretive deal where you can't figure out where they're at.  I mean, the crew chiefs are allowed to figure that out and go down there and document where they're at.  Then we're made aware of it as drivers.
But it's still the same pit road speed all the way from the beginning to the end.  You don't really think about it from year to year, you just worry about whatever the pit road speed is and make sure you get it on your tach correctly.
THE MODERATOR:  Tony, congratulations.  Thanks a lot.
We're now joined in the media center by our second place driver today at Pocono, Mark Martin, who drives the No.55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota.  Mark, those last few laps, last 20 maybe and especially that last restart, battle with you and Joey, that was something else.  This is somebody that you've said all along, this kid has got it.
MARK MARTIN:¬† Yeah, I'm just so thankful to have the opportunity that Michael Waltrip, first of all, and Aaron's and Toyota have given me to drive competitive race cars, and for me it's just‑‑ it is so incredible to be in something where I‑‑ that is strong enough that I can contend.
We went after that thing really hard.  We had a great race car.  I really stuck my neck out on the line to get that lead, almost pulled it off the restart before, and I was willing to risk it all to try to get the lead.
And once I got out there, Joey was just stronger than we were, just a little bit stronger, and I just‑‑ you know, I was pushing as hard as I could push and had a little slip there off of 3 and he was able to get up on me and get by.¬† We certainly would have got back up there and raced for the win after the pass if we'd have had the car.¬† But he was able to pull away.
So it was a great effort by Rodney Childers and all the guys.  I'm one of the luckiest guys in the world to be able to drive a race car that I can come that close with, and maybe next week we'll be the ones with the trophy.  We were certainly close today.

Q.  Can you just talk about Joey finally winning?  You were one of the first guys to go to bat for him when he first came into this series, and just your reaction to him finally breaking through and getting a big win today.
MARK MARTIN:  Well, he raced for it.  He was fast from day one of testing.  He certainly didn't get that one handed to him, especially my pulling off that last restart.
So, you know, maybe things will start to turn.  He's been kind of in a stall in his career or in his progression with the Cup Series, but it looks like the last couple of weeks that maybe that's starting to turn.
I've always known since I saw him drive at 11 years old that he could be a Cup champion.  I knew it then.

Q.  I guess he got into you there to take the lead; is that right?  What happened there, and did you have any qualms or problems at all with him getting into you?
MARK MARTIN:  Well, I'd call that a bump and run.

Q.  Was that okay?
MARK MARTIN:  It has been acceptable in this racing for a long time.  It's not how I would have done it, but certainly if I'd have had a fast enough car, he would have gotten a return.  But I couldn't quite keep up with him.
It was great racing, and everybody does what they're‑‑ what they decide to do.¬† It was a great race, and I'm very, very proud of my race team for putting me in something that would give me a shot.¬† I'm having fun with it.¬† Maybe next week we'll be the ones with the trophy.

Q.¬† Can you talk a little bit about Toyota ‑ Toyota had a dominating day ‑ the people up front, what they've been able to accomplish, especially the improvements that have been made at MWR in the off‑season until now.¬† Can you just talk about their success?
MARK MARTIN:  They've been very, very helpful with us at MWR for sure.  This is my first experience with them.  And there are a lot of racers that help us with the engines and the technology, and I really enjoy them.  And they've embraced me, and that's been nice.  They have really made me feel welcome.
I think that we had good power today and enough durability to make it to the end here, so that's a fine edge there.¬† We did have some problems at Kansas, and they worked really hard to get those fixed up and to continue to be able to‑‑ this is a really, really competitive series, and it's amazing what they've been able to do, and I appreciate their help so much.

Q.  You were able to pass Joey twice coming into Turn 1.  What strategy were you using there, and how were you able to hold him off the second time?
MARK MARTIN:¬† The first time I thought I went through that corner on the high side as fast as you can go without wrecking, and it wasn't‑‑ it was about three feet not fast enough.¬† And so the next time I went through there, I went through there faster than I could go without wrecking, and that's how I did it.¬† But I didn't wreck, so‑‑ but I was willing to take the chance.

Q.  You're 0 for 51 now at Pocono.  You had a second place again today, your seventh second place finish, and the top 5s just continue to rack up here.  Does it ever start weighing on you for how close you come here and always come up a bit short as far as victory?
MARK MARTIN:  You're not owed this stuff, man.  I've earned all those second place finishes, and I'm proud of that.  You're not entitled.  You've got to go get 'em.

Q.  Were you at all worried about the lines on pit road or whatever was going on there?
MARK MARTIN:  Well, I hate to tell the rest of the paddock, but I don't feel that I can overcome a penalty, so I'm willing to stay slightly below the line comfort zone.  For me a half a second is a lot easier to make up than 30 seconds.  I did not have a problem.  There may have been some discrepancy in that last timing line.  Rodney warned me about that as people got busted, and if there was, then even I could have got busted.
But I tried to stay on the side where I‑‑ I've got to look my guys in the eyes and tell them that I blew it if I get caught for speeding on pit road, so I try not to do that.

Q.  As someone who's raced here for so many years at 500 miles, can you just compare running 400 miles?
MARK MARTIN:  No, I couldn't tell you any difference.  Seemed like a pretty long race today, certainly was plenty long enough.
Huge shout‑out to Pocono Speedway and the paving company.¬† I don't think it would be possible to have a first race event this good‑‑ better than this one.¬† I don't think it would be possible.¬† I only hope and pray that Michigan races as well as this did.¬† This was just absolutely the best I can ever remember for new pavement.
Shout‑out to Goodyear, as well, fantastic tires, no failures.
THE MODERATOR:  Mark, thank you very much.  Congratulations.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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