This Week in Ford Racing
February 9, 2011
Ford Racing enters the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season needing only one victory to reach 600. This week, Ford Racing looks at the circumstances surrounding Mark Martin's win at Martinsville in 2000 that resulted in Ford's 500th all-time victory.
Ford Racing Nets 500th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Triumph As Mark Martin Steals Victory Away From Rusty Wallace at Martinsville
Martinsville Speedway has been hosting NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races ever since the sport began in 1949 and to win a race on this half-mile paperclip requires a fast car, quick reflexes, and good pit strategy. A little good luck doesn't hurt either.
On April 9, 2000, Mark Martin had all of those on his side as he became the eighth different winner in as many races and gave Ford its 500th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory by winning the Goody's Body Pain 500.<pre> "I feel like we stole it," said Martin afterwards. "We were making some pretty good laps, according to my team, at the end. I didn't want to lose, so I held on like a mean dog because I wanted it. I ran hard and nobody came. I thought they would all come and pass me, but I never saw anybody. I don't know what happened, but we just won the race." </pre>
Ford's Rusty Wallace had the field covered most of the day. Even when he had a tire go down putting him two laps behind, he was able to make up the deficit and regain the lead. He was cruising and appeared headed to his second win of the season until a crucial decision with 65 laps remaining.
Jerry Nadeau spun bringing out the 15th caution of the day and Wallace decided to pit, along with most of the other frontrunners. Martin and Roush Racing teammate Jeff Burton, however, pitted 24 laps earlier and decided to stay out for track position. That move turned out to be the call of the day because two more cautions followed, allowing Martin and Burton to stay in front of the pack and finish first and second, respectively. Wallace, who led a race-high five times for 343 laps, ended up getting spun with 11 laps to go and finished 10th.
"I guess we were probably running about eighth and were chancing losing some spots because I didn't know if I was going to be able to pass those guys that stayed out," said Martin. "You know, when you're not running that great and you don't really have a chance, it's a lot easier to take chances and gamble than when you're a contender. When you're a contender, you've got to hedge your bet. You've got to really try to make sure you do the right thing.
"We had 16-17 cars on the lead lap and I was about halfway to the back of that line," continued Martin. "I wasn't going to go forward, so why not? I had to believe that they were going to stop before the end of the race because that was a long way to go, so we stopped and got our work done. It was just a matter of chance and brilliance on Jimmy Fennig's part. I figured Rusty would be coming for sure. I never saw the lead, but I thought he was the man all day and I figured he'd just bounce right up through there and a bunch of others with fresh tires."
While Martin was enjoying his good fortune, Wallace was obviously second-guessing himself.
"I really thought with 70 to go we needed to put tires on to get position and go,' he said. "I didn't think a bunch of them would just stay out like they did. I got behind and my car pushed and I just couldn't get back around them. Track position is everything in the world nowadays and we should have just stayed out. I think we had the best car out there all day long. It was a real hot-rod and it's just unfortunate. That's all I can say."
It was a banner day for Ford, which won for the fourth time in eight races and had six drivers finish in the top 10. And what made Martin even happier than winning was getting to take home one of the most coveted and unique trophies in the sport - a grandfather clock that the speedway has been awarding to Cup winners since 1964.
"I'm just glad I built a nice trophy case back at my office and I've got something to add to it besides a Busch trophy," he said. "My wife has nagged me about one of those grandfather clocks for 10 years."
FORD FUN FACT
Roush Fenway Racing has a total of 120 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins with seven different drivers. Mark Martin leads the way with 35 wins while Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards have 18 each. Jeff Burton has 17 wins, followed by Greg Biffle with 16, Kurt Busch with 14 and Jamie McMurray with 2.
-source: ford racing