Mark Martin Indianapolis Preview
CORNELIUS, N.C. — Of the millions of television viewers who watched Brian Vickers drive the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine to victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 14, Mark Martin said he might have been the most nervous.
“Man, what an awesome thing for Brian and (Crew Chief) Rodney (Childers), Aaron’s and everyone at MWR,” said the 54 year-old future Hall of Famer who was one of the first to arrive at MWR the morning after the race to celebrate with the employees.
“That was unbelievable. I was watching on television but I felt like I was driving along with Brian in the closing laps. It was nerve wracking. Throw in that green-white-checkered finish and I don't know if I could have taken much more. It was just an awesome moment for everyone here.”
Martin plans a few more moments like that for the No. 55 in 2013. He’ll drive in all but five of the 17 remaining races. Sunday’s race at Indianapolis marks his first race since June 16. He said he values each of his 40 race wins, but kissing the bricks after the race at the Brickyard would rank as a career highlight.
“I’ve enjoyed my time off, but I’m ready to go again. No doubt about it, an Indianapolis win would be special,” said Martin who owns top-11 finishes in all but five of the 19 Sprint Cup races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“We can do it,” said Martin. “These guys give all of us drivers good cars and Toyota gives us the horsepower no matter where we go. Martin won at Sonoma, Michael (Waltrip) finished fifth at Daytona and Brian won at New Hampshire in the last three races. Plus Clint (Bowyer) has run well all year. Everyone is optimistic about Indy.”
“Mark's had some time off and when Mark gets some time off, he comes back like a ball of fire and everybody knows how much Mark Martin loves Indy. We've got a good car we're taking back and some good horsepower under the hood. So hopefully we can keep this ball rolling.”
The No. 55’s New Hampshire victory has made the Sprint Cup car owner points standings more relevant. The No. 55 would earn the second wildcard if the Chase started this week.
The owner’s Chase is the same as the driver’s Chase. Car owner points are awarded the same as driver points each race. The top 10 in (owner) points qualify along with two Wild Card spots based on wins and points just like the driver’s Chase. Their points are reset before the Chase begins at Chicagoland Speedway in September. The owner’s title goes to the car with the most points after the 10 Chase races.
MWR targeted the owners title before the 2012 season when it decided to rotate Martin, Vickers and Waltrip as drivers of the No. 55.
“One of the very first things we talked about was racing for an owner's championship -- let's shake up the system,” said Ty Norris, MWR’s general manager and executive vice-president of business development. “If we can win some races and be in a situation where we can run for an owner's championship that can be just as remarkable as running for a driver's championship, so our team has rallied around that."
• INDY STATS: Martin has finished in the top 11 in all but five of the 19 Brickyard races. He’s finished second twice, posted six top-five finishes, led 67 laps and won the pole in 2009. Martin along with Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Jeff Burton are the only drivers who have raced in all 19 Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis.
• DRIVER RATING: Only Jimmie Johnson (106.3) and Tony Stewart (102.8) own a higher driver rating at Indianapolis than Martin’s 102.5 rating. He owns a Series-high 1,067 Laps in the Top 15 (83.4%)
• CAREER STATS: Martin owns 40 Sprint Cup, 49 Nationwide and seven Camping World Truck Series victories. He’s led 12,856 laps in Sprint Cup competition. Martin has started 867 Sprint Cup races, 236 Nationwide races and 25 truck events. The 96 combined wins is sixth on the all-time list. He also owns 13 IROC wins in 47 starts.
• POLES: Martin owns five poles in 36 races with MWR. He is seventh on the all-time pole list with 56 poles including one in 2013 at Phoenix.
• MWR: Martin Truex Jr. won at Sonoma on June 23, Waltrip finished fifth at Daytona on July 6 and Vickers won the New Hampshire race on July 14. Clint Bowyer is second in points trailing Jimmie Johnson by 56 points. If the Chase began today, Bowyer and Truex would qualify for the drivers Chase the No. 55 would qualify for the owners Chase.
• BRICKYARD GRAND PRIX: MWR Co-Owner Rob Kauffman and teammate Rui Aguas will race the No. 56 Ferrari 458 for AF-Waltrip in Friday’s three-hour Brickyard Grand Prix. AF-Waltrip is a joint effort by MWR and the Italian AF Corse organization. AF-Waltrip has raced the GT car in sports car races throughout the world including the Rolex 24 in Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Kauffman, Aguas and drivers including Waltrip, Bowyer, Vickers and Travis Pastrana. SPEED-TV will televise the race Friday at 7:30 p.m.
• SOCIAL STOP: Make MWR’s “Social Stop” your second screen to follow all the racing and social media action when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this weekend. MWR’s “Social Stop” goes live race morning allowing fans to view information from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube all on one page. Twitter feeds from MWR drivers, media members and NASCAR fans will populate the page. Visitors can also interact with fellow race fans and answer poll questions on the page. Visit www.facebook.com/michaelwaltripracing or click www.MichaelWaltripRacing.com/social
NAME: Mark Martin
HOMETOWN: Batesville, AR
RESIDENCE: Daytona Beach, FL