Mark Martin thought he was in the twilight of his career. He raced two partial seasons and came within a hair’s width of winning the Daytona 500; came within a teaspoon of fuel from winning at Phoenix this year.
He can still compete, and he still wants to win.
Next year, he’ll wheel the famed 5 Hendrick Motorsports car in the camp of Roush Fenway arch-rivals. Mark spent 19 years with Roush Racing and at today’s news conference acknowledged Jack Roush’s positive impact on Martin’s career.
Mark also talked about the day he and his new Batesville bride came to Daytona — just to watch the race. Mark didn’t have a ride. Later in the news conference Mark explained why he wasn’t ready to step away from the sport. “I don’t want to be at the track unless I’m racing.” But he still loves the camaraderie and values the friendships at the track.
Mark’s finished second in the Cup championship four times. Third, another four times. His career has been beset with heart break — in business, by bad luck, questionable NASCAR sanctions, by alcoholism, and by the airplane crash that killed Mark’s beloved father, step-mother, and step-sister.
He still keeps fighting.
By now, he thought he’d be hanging up his racing suit. Instead, he finds himself climbing into a championship caliber car with the most successful organization in NASCAR history.
If he wins one or two races, I’ll be thrilled. If he contends for the championship, I’ll be outta my mind crazy.
Mark Martin keeps re-inventing the rules.