Martin Aims to Expand on Las Vegas Record
March 7, 2007
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Army News Service, March 7, 2007) - If Mark Martin had a choice of tracks he would like to take his Nextel Cup points lead to, Las Vegas Motor Speedway would be high on the list.
In the first nine Cup races at the 1.5-mile oval, the Army driver has garnered one win (the inaugural race in 1998), four top fives and seven top 10s. Only engine failures in 2003 and 2005 managed to keep him out of the top 10.
Other Las Vegas highlights for Martin include: leading 243 career laps in a Cup car and capturing two poles and two wins in four Busch Series races, with the last victory coming in 2005.
Though Martin is not one to waste time reveling in past accomplishments or even the moment for that matter, his 1998 Las Vegas win still shines bright in his memory.
"I can remember that evening leaving the track on the helicopter following the traditional Victory Lane photos and interviews," recalled Martin, who will make his 620th consecutive start in Vegas. "When I looked down, it occurred to me that this wasn't some dirt track in who-knows-where. It was a big deal to win at Las Vegas. It was a big deal to win that race that day and we did it. That was something I was very proud of. It still stands out today."
That post-victory emotion was an uncharacteristic feeling for Martin, who admits he remembers little about the majority of his 35 Nextel Cup wins. Throw in 47 Busch wins, 13 IROC wins (both series records) and seven truck wins and it's easy to see how it can all get lost in the mix. Especially when Martin's immediate focus was always to the next town and the next race.
"As soon as one race was over, I was always immediately concerned about the next race," said Martin, driver of the No. 01 Army Chevrolet. "I took little time to enjoy the moment or ever really think much about it. I was always so worried about how we would do the next time out - if we had a good car, the right setup or whatever else. But following the victory in Las Vegas it occurred to me that we had accomplished something special on that day."
The odds of continued success for Martin at Las Vegas stack up even better when considering the trend of "change" that he has experienced over the years.
His win in 1998 came during the first year with Jimmy Fennig as crew chief when the new team relocated to Mooresville, N.C. Martin finished third in his first year (2002) with Ben Leslie at the helm and fifth in his first year (2004) with Pat Tryson as crew chief. In 2006 Martin carried a new sponsor on the car and finished sixth.
When the green flag drops for Sunday's 400-mile event, Martin will not only have a new crew chief in Ryan Pemberton, but a new sponsor (Army) and a new team (Ginn Racing).
"We're not banking on the odds, but it would be nice to see the trend continue," said Martin, who has posted finishes of second and fifth in the first two races of the current season - his best start ever in his 20-plus year Nextel Cup career.