Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NEWSMAKER: MARK MARTIN; Veteran Driver Sounds Enthusiastic about DEI's Potential for Success

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NEWSMAKER: MARK MARTIN; Veteran Driver Sounds Enthusiastic about DEI's Potential for Success

Article excerpt

Mark Martin led last year's Daytona 500 until the final 100 yards. That's when Kevin Harvick completed his improbable move from seventh place on the final lap to a one-foot victory.

Martin will return for a part-time schedule this year with Dale Earnhardt Inc. Martin talked about his future, his new race team and the Daytona 500 during a recent test session at Daytona International Speedway. Here are excerpts of that interview:

Q: ANY THOUGHTS OF THIS BEING THE 50TH RUNNING OF THE DAYTONA 500?

This is the crown jewel of a NASCAR driver's career. It was a tough pill to swallow to let it slip out of my fingers last year on one hand. On the other hand, it was really a privilege to have a shot at it. I want to thank everybody on that team for giving me a crack at it.

Q: WHAT IS THE ATMOSPHERE AT DEI?

It's more than just status quo. I think there is tremendous potential at DEI for the growth to be very productive. The merger last year was something that was hard to get your arms around. They had two cars shooting for the Chase, and then they had one car in the Chase, and it was a very delicate situation. We didn't want to do anything that would hamper Dale Junior's shot at making the Chase. And once it started, you didn't want to do anything but give Martin (Truex Jr.) the best shot at winning the championship. So they weren't able to really completely merge the thing until afterwards. Some of the work was being done, but a lot of it had to wait until the end of the season. Now that everyone is in one building, it's really going to bear fruit. And I will say that everyone is going to work together like never before at DEI.

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS OF WORKING WITH YOUNGER DRIVERS?

A sense of satisfaction. I think everyone wants to feel like they are useful, too. When you get as old as I am in this business, nobody has much use for you anymore. I've always helped drivers, always, since I was a kid. I did it then for the satisfaction. For some reason, it made me feel good to help other people who really wanted to do well -- especially people that I liked. …

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