Martin Rolling, Off to Career Best Start
February 28, 2007
MOORSEVILLE, N.C. (Army News Service, Feb. 28, 2007) - Mark Martin is off to the best start of his racing career and for the first time since Sept. 22, 2002, the veteran is on top of the NASCAR world.
It was even difficult for the stoic Martin to hide his delight just moments after climbing out of his No. 01 U.S. Army Chevy following a top-five finish Sunday at California Speedway. The finish, combined with Martin's dramatic second-place run in the season-opening Daytona 500, marks the first time in his 20-plus year Cup career that he has started the season with consecutive top-five finishes.
When informed that he was the points leader Sunday night, a humble but happy Martin said, "That's really cool. This team is awesome. It's just great working with the guys on the U.S. Army team and the guys at Ginn Racing. We've had cars good enough to win in both of the first two races and that really says a lot about this organization and where it is going. We still have a long way to go, but we sure are off to a great start."
"It's really just been an awesome experience," added Martin. "I'm rolling and I'm having the time of my life."
Many were skeptical when Martin announced last Fall that after 19 years he was leaving Roush Racing to run a partial schedule for Ginn Racing. Some even went as far as to question his motives and his desire to compete. After two races, a top-five at California Speedway and a runner-up finish in one of the closest Daytona 500's in history, Martin's doubters are few and far between, and the only skeptics who remain are the ones who question whether Martin can run a part-time schedule.
"I wouldn't come out here and race if I didn't think I could be competitive," said Martin. "What Bobby Ginn (team owner) and Jay Frye (CEO, GM) did was give me that opportunity and I think that we are making the most of it. It's really been a blast and I can't wait to get to Vegas and see what we have for them in a couple of weeks."
The plan is for Martin to run the next two races at Las Vegas and Atlanta, before giving way to rookie Regan Smith at the Bristol Race. Many question the validity of that plan given Martin's early success this season. One of the doubters is Martin's former teammate at Roush Racing, Matt Kenseth, who is rumored to have a $200 bet that Martin will run a full season, rather than scale back.
For now Martin is just taking it all in and enjoying his new surroundings.
"I'm just having the time of my life," said Martin. "We've had good cars and we've shown that we are capable of winning races and running competitively. There is still a lot of work to do here at Ginn Racing, but I think that we have shown that this is for real and that we are up to the challenge."