Guest Author - Debbie Lester
Will the old man finally come through? Mark Martin is a legend in the racing world. A genuinely nice guy and respected by all the drivers and crews in the business. Heís a hard worker who came up through the ranks to become one of most prominent drivers in all of NASCAR.
Mark Martin was born January 9, 1959 in Batesville, Arkansas. He grew up racing short tracks all over the mid-west. He learned the inís and outís of racing before he ever took the wheel. He loved to go fast and racing was the best way to do that.
At the age of seventeen he began racing in American Speed Association (ASA) races. He went on that year to win the American Speed Association Rookie Of The Year award. He was very competitive and continued to do well in the ASA. He won three championships in the ASA, three years in a row.
Martin gave NASCAR a try in 1981, after many changes in his sponsorship he returned to ASA competition and won a fourth championship in 1986. But, NASCAR was still in his mind and in his heart. In 1987 he decided to give it another go. He had his first NASCAR win at Dover that year.
Jack Roush, team owner for Roush Racing had his eye on Mark Martin. Their relationship is one thatís hard to beat in NASCAR. Mark Martin drove for Jack Roush for 19 years. This is the longest owner/driver relationship in NASCAR history.
The 1988 season was Mark Martinís debut with Roush Racing. He finished the season in third place, with 10 top ten finishes and a pole position. He struggled in the Daytona that year but he didnít let it get him down.
The 1989 season set the tone for the rest of Mark Martins career in NASCAR. He won his first cup race and the National Motorsports Press Association ďdriver of the yearĒ award. He finished third overall and never looked back.
In 1993 Mark Martin broke a NASCAR record. He won fiver races that year, but four of these races were consecutive wins. No one else in racing history had ever done that. He was nominated as driver of the year and won the August Pro Athlete of Year, but again he finished third in the overall standings.
In 1997 Martin won his 32nd Busch Series win, shattering the all time record. He was humbled in 1998 when his name was placed on the list of the fifty greatest drivers of all time. In 2004 he became one of the first 10 drivers in the first Championship Chase.
In 2005 Mark Martin decided that his career in NASCAR had been full and his cup was running over. He had won 35 NASCAR cup races, 47 Busch races, 5 IROC wins and had come in 2nd four times in the Nextel Cup series. It seemed the only thing he was missing was that illusive cup championship.
Things didnít go as planned for Mark Martin. Through a series of events he continued to run limited cup races throughout 2006 and 2007. He returned to a full cup season in 2008 with Dale Earnhardt Inc. and this season is trying once again to win the Cup, with Hendrick Motorsports and the #5 car.
Mark Martin is a true legend in the sport of NASCAR. His attitude on and off the track have won him many accolades from his peers and he has been hugely successful. We wish him the best of luck in his quest for the championship and who wouldnít want to see him win? Not very many!