Martin: "Just Another Race"

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Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule. Mark Martin treats it just like any other race.

"A day can be tough without going 600 miles, real tough" Martin said.

"They’re all tough. Some are tougher than others. They don’t have to be 600 miles to be brutal, for all kinds of physical reasons, temperatures, how your car handles. All of those things come into play."

Martin will roll off 11th in the No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet for the event, that takes the green flag at 5:40 p.m.

"Here, it is more miles," Martin said. "It is a demanding race on you, physically and mentally. I have seen some 400 milers that will break your back, too. That is not the only thing that makes them tough."

Martin added that he didn’t train any differently for Sunday’s enduro.

"That would mean that I wasn’t doing all that I could do in the others," he said. "If I could do more for this one, that that would mean that I did not do enough for any of the others. I do every race like it is the biggest race of my career. That’s how I address every race. You can’t just sit down and have a bowl of pasta and drink a gallon of water and be more prepared than you were if you had just lived a healthy lifestyle. You have got to live it. I live it everyday."

Talking about his healthy lifestyle, Martin recalled a short track legend he raced while competing in the ASA in the late 1970s and 1980s.

"I am not the Dick Trickle guy that said it’s one hour for every 100 laps, so he had to get four hours of sleep for 400 laps," Martin said. "I am not that guy. He probably got six hours of sleep for a 600 miler."

While Martin might have lived the Trickle lifestyle prior to his second tour of duty in the Cup Series – when he signed with Jack Roush in 1988 – he quickly changed his outlook.

"I do everything I can, every time."

How tough is the extra 100 miles?

"A lot depends on the weather," Jeff Burton said. "The hotter it is, the harder it is. It’s supposed to be warm on Sunday. Of course, it goes right into the night and the temperatures will cool down quite a bid. There is no question that the extra 100 miles does add a little bit. Six hundred miles is a long race.

"Conditioning is real important. If you’re borderline at 500 miles, then 600 miles can put you over the edge. You might not be as sharp as you need to be at the end of the race. But at this level, there’s not much excuse for that. You need to be in shape and you need to be ready. I imagine most people are."

For Kyle Busch, the changing conditions is the biggest challenge in the event.

"The biggest thing to remember about Sunday is the adjustability and that we start in the daytime when it’s hot and slick," Kyle Busch said. "It can be treacherous when the sun is out, this place is very slick and we are out of control. When it calms down and everything gets cooler, the grip factor picks up and everything gets a little bit better. You have to chill for the first 400 miles, trying to stay on the lead lap or making changes to make sure your car is capable of staying on the lead lap, and adjusting on it to make sure your car is capable of staying on the lead lap. It’s way too soon to start racing people all the way up to probably 100 laps to go."

"This weekend is why they pay you the big bucks," Clint Bowyer said. He’s one of the 20 drivers preparing for a 900-mile weekend – in addition to racing Friday on the dirt track. “I think a guy who’s been out there a day and a half will have a big advantage."


Victory for the Black No. 3

The familiar black No. 3 returned to Victory Lane at Charlotte Friday night.

Austin Dillon, 16-year-old nephew of Richard Childress, won the Goodyear Fastrak Challenge late model feature at The Dirt Track at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The race was a preliminary for the Eckerd Outlaw Showdown, a World of Outlaws Sprint Car race won by Donnie Shatz before a sellout crowd of 14,000.

"I don't think I've been more nervous trying to win the Daytona 500," Childress said. :Seeing the black No. 3 back up there and my family running it, it's just great. He did a great job tonight and I'm proud of Austin."

It was a one-two finish for RCR, with Clint Bowyer coming up from 16th starting position to finish on Dillon's bumper.

Dillon started seventh in the 24-car feature, and took the lead with five laps remaining after battling side-by-side with veterans Jack Pennington and Timbo Mangnum.

Casey LaJoie, son of former Busch Series champion Randy LaJoie, won Thursday's Bendolero Young Guns feature. The race was held on a short track in the Lowe's Motor Speedway trioval.

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