DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. — You never really get used to seeing Mark Martin, the spry lil' tougher-than-you gremlin, in a neon-green GoDaddy firesuit. Even so, there he was first thing Thursday morning at Media Day, holding forth on topics far and wide. And we can tell you this: when you're struggling, Martin's the guy you want on your side.
Martin first focused on GoDaddy sponsormate Danica Patrick, who is preparing for her second season in NASCAR amid a torrent of publicity and attention, both positive and negative. And, to Martin's eyes, the negative publicity simply isn't fair.
"The thing we have to remember is, she has absolutely no background in what it takes to really make these cars fast," he said. "She's having to build that under a microscope in short bursts, instead of doing it every day, every day, every day. She's got a lot of talent, and she's incredibly committed."
As Martin notes, there's a physical component to Patrick's difficulty in making progress. "These cars have to be slid," he notes. "You don't slide Indy cars ... well, you slide, but it's right before you hit the wall."
But Martin points out that there's one definitive positive from Patrick's first season: "You need to take notice that she has not wadded up any race cars," he said. "How many newcomers come in and do that? Give her a break. She's up against a lot."
From one beleaguered driver to another ... Martin also discussed the difficulties teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. will go through these next two weeks as the tenth anniversary of his father's death approaches, with all the attendant publicity and recollection. "I think he can handle it, but I think it will be an additional stress and strain on him," Martin said. "He can handle it and shoulder it. This is the strongest set of shoulders in motorsports. He gracefully carries the incredible weight." Martin echoed the sentiments of many other drivers when he said, "I wouldn't want to be him."
So, there you go. Rough day at the office? Spouse giving you grief for not doing the dishes? Feeling a little glum and blue? Get Mark Martin on your side, pronto, and all will be right with your world. Or at least he'll tell you it is.