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NASCAR Winston Cup Series MBNA 400 Preview: #6, Mark Martin

17 September 1997

By Williams Company of America, Inc.
 #6 Mark Martin, Valvoline Ford Thunderbird                    
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 MBNA 400 Advance
 Dover Downs International Speedway
                   MARK MARTIN NOTES & QUOTES: MBNA 400

DOVER, DE - Locked in a torrid battle with Jeff Gordon for the 1997
NASCAR Winston Cup championship, Mark Martin and the Valvoline Ford
team head to the one-mile, high-banked Dover Downs (Del.)
International Speedway this week for Sunday's MBNA 400. Martin
finished second at Dover in the May race, and was fifth in this race a
year ago.

The 38-year-old Batesville, Ark., native is one of the biggest names
in racing and his Valvoline team is Ford's most successful stock car
racing team. In fact, the Valvoline team has been, by far. Ford's most
successful Winston Cup points team in the 1990's, and is second only
to Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress among total points earned this
decade. Martin and Valvoline carried a string of eight consecutive
top-10 finishes in the final NASCAR standings into this season, the
longest current streak of any team and matched only by Ricky Rudd
among drivers, Martin has not finished lower than sixth in the NASCAR
Winston Cup standings since 1988.

The Valvoline Ford team is led by Martin, car owner Jack Roush, team
manager Steve Hmiel and crew chief Jimmy Fennig.

The thoughts of Valvoline Ford driver Mark Martin heading into Dover:

"Dover is a pretty neat race track. They changed it on me a few years
ago and went away from the asphalt surface, which is too bad. I can
certainly understand their reasons for wanting to change
surfaces. Economically, it makes a lot of sense. And you don't have to
worry about a lot of things that can happen to an asphalt track
happening to a concrete track. But I still miss the asphalt at Dover.

"I used to really, really love Dover until they concreted it. I still
like racing there a lot because I love high-banked race tracks but the
concrete has affected my affections for racing there. It's still a
good race track but it's not as much fun as it used to be.

"Concrete is a lot different to drive on. Concrete doesn't lend itself
to two racing grooves the way asphalt does. On concrete you can really
get hooked up really get a great grip on the track surface. But if you
break loose on concrete, you would stand a better chance of catching
the car and saving it on a frozen lake. Break loose on concrete and
it's almost like ice. On asphalt, you can feel a certain amount of
slippage before the car loses traction completely. With concrete you
stick really well but if you break loose, you crash. On asphalt you
can catch it and keep going.

"The thing is, that breaking loose can affect you in a number of ways. You 
don't just have to worry about your car, you have to worry about the guy 
you are passing or the guy right in front of you. Does he have hold of it? 
Did he slip just a little and go flying? You're thinking clearing the next 
car as quickly as you can. Plus, if you are driving on the ragged edge you 
are taking a chance on crashing in the turns. I like driving on the ragged 
edge. It's hard to do that on concrete.

"The car just feels different on concrete. It 'dances.' It jumps, it 
jiggles, it wiggles. Tell me that won't get your attention pretty quick -- 
steaming around a one-mile speedway every 24 seconds while your race car is 
doing the Macarena.

"I really don't mean any of this as criticism but just the way things are. 
It's not like the only people who have to worry about it are the ones with 
the white Valvoline stickers on the quarterpanels. Everybody has to deal 
with it, and everybody does. Concrete is just different. I happen to prefer 
the asphalt. It's still a really great place to race.

"Shoot, I'm happy we're racing on a track with as much banking as Dover. The 
more banking, you have, the faster you go. And I love going fast. If  you 
want to go fast, you've got to have the banking. That's what racing is all 
about -- going fast. Race tracks are supposed to be high-banked like a Dover 
or a Bristol or a Talladega. Man, if you want to run on something level, you 
need to go drag racing. 

"We're still running as hard as we can go for the championship. We've
lost a few points over the past couple of weeks but with seven races
left, it's still anybody's to win. I don't figure Jeff Gordon and
those guys have written us off any more than we've written off
(third-place) Dale Jarrett and that crowd. Nobody in this sport gives
up too easily. Plus, with our schedule it's tough to get too high or
too low. We are so busy it's hard to take the time to get too happy or
to get tee down. There is just too much to do.  There are too many
places to go. There are too many things to get done. We leave one
place, got home for a day or two, then we're off to the next place.
The good thing is, when things aren't so great, you can't get too
down. The bad thing is, when things are going really good, there isn't
much to celebrate.

"A good run at Dover, and maybe this Valvoline Ford team will take a
few minutes and celebrate."