Darlington: Mark Martin preview

Martin, No. 8 U.S. Army Team Driving Point Home Veteran Driver Strong as ever in 'part-time' role with Dale Earnhardt Inc. MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 7, 2008) -- Fresh off the strength of back-to-back top-five finishes at Phoenix and Richmond, Mark...

Martin, No. 8 U.S. Army Team Driving Point Home
Veteran Driver Strong as ever in 'part-time' role with Dale Earnhardt Inc.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (May 7, 2008) -- Fresh off the strength of back-to-back top-five finishes at Phoenix and Richmond, Mark Martin has helped lead the No. 8 U.S. Army Team to a 14th-place position in the Sprint Cup owner points -- only 31 points outside of the top 12.

The top 12 is the cutoff point for teams eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup title. The recent strength of the No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. team could very likely create an interesting scenario that would see the No. 8 Team with Martin and co-driver Aric Almirola run for an Owner's Championship come September.

Martin had realistic opportunities to win each of the last two Cup races, while Almirola finished eighth in his debut in the No. 8 at Bristol in March and ran inside the top 10 at both Martinsville - where he qualified third - and Talladega, before running into trouble.

"This is a really good race team," said Martin of his No. 8 U.S. Army Team. "These guys are a group of really dedicated racers who want to win. They aren't worried about all of the problems that could stand in the way. They aren't worried about which driver is in the car or the problems it might present. These guys are worried about winning races and running up front.

"Tony Gibson (crew chief) and these guys want to win races and we have a common goal of running up front and being competitive. It's an honor to drive this team's race cars and I look forward to getting in the No. 8 Chevrolet each week."

Martin's third place finish at Richmond last weekend was not only is best in the No. 8 car, but his best in over a year. It also marked the first time that Martin has finished inside the top five in consecutive races since the beginning of 2007, a feat that the No. 8 team only accomplished only once last season.

A top-five finish this weekend at Darlington would mark the first time Martin has posted three straight top-fives since the beginning of 2007, and the first time the No. 8 team of Dale Earnhardt Inc. has posted three consecutive top-five finishes since April, 2004.

In addition to the No. 8's impressive standing in the points, Martin is ranked 28th in driver points, despite having missed three of 10 events in 2008. Martin is ahead of nine drivers who have competed in more races in 2008. He has more top-10 finishes (4) than 19 drivers how have raced in all 10 events, and his two top five finishes are more than 21 of the drivers who have raced in every Sprint Cup race this season.

Martin and the No. 8 U.S. Army team will look to continue their success when they roll into historic Darlington (S.C.) Raceway this weekend, where Martin won the famed Southern 500 in 1993 and has totaled 16 top-five finishes and 25 top 10s. In addition, Martin is the track's most successful driver in the Nationwide Series, where he has accumulated a track-high eight wins.

-credit: dei

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Aric Almirola , Mark Martin