DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 30, 1999) The 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series' third place driver, Mark Martin, has decided that his successful recovery from back surgery is more important than attending Friday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Awards Banquet...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 30, 1999) The 1999 NASCAR Winston Cup Series' third place driver, Mark Martin, has decided that his successful recovery from back surgery is more important than attending Friday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Awards Banquet at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
The banquet is the first that Martin will miss in 11 years. The 40-year-old driver of Jack Roush's No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Ford Tauruses in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and Roush's Winn-Dixie Fords in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division has finished no worse than sixth in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series standings ever since he was third in the 1989 championship.
"I feel just awful that I can't make it to New York," said Martin, who returned home the Friday after Thanksgiving from Bert Fish Medical Center in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. "The doctor told me that if I tried to do too much this soon that it could affect how soon I can get back into a race car.
"I couldn't take that chance, so I will have to watch it on television like most people. I really wanted to be there in person to thank the fans, the sponsors and my team for all the support they have given me this year."
Martin reportedly will make his acceptance speech for third place via videotape. He will, though, attempt to make an audio hook-up to Thursday's afternoon's annual press conference and media briefing with the top-10 drivers in the standings from the Waldorf-Astoria.
Martin underwent a successful lumbar fusion on Nov. 22. Martin's orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Chuck Kollmer in an attempt to relieve a majority of the back pain Martin has dealt with for several years performed the procedure. Dr. Kollmer is the same physician who performed surgery on Martin's fractured left tibial plateau in July to repair damage Martin incurred in an accident during practice for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona.
Martin was out of bed and walking the day after surgery, which is no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the "mighty mite" driver. He is now scheduled to begin physical therapy sessions Wednesday at his home, with a therapist who lives in the same housing development.
"I'm glad to be home," Martin said of his current four-day stretch in his own bed. "But I'm getting pretty bored. I'm really not in any pain, which makes it even tougher to take it easy and rest.
"The doctor told me I had to pretty much stay in bed for the next two weeks to make sure the fusion heals properly. I can get up and walk around every few hours, but other than that I have to lie down. I've been doing a lot of reading and watching a few movies to pass the time, but I really want to be out doing other things."
Martin is an avid conditioning buff and more than anything, misses that part of his daily routine.
Martin, more than likely, will miss pre-season testing at Daytona. Crew chief Jimmy Fennig said the team had a pair of sessions scheduled in January, the 10-11 at Talladega in Alabama and the 20-21 at Daytona, the site of Speedweeks 2000 activity in February.
Roush teammate Greg Biffle, runner-up in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings driving the No. 50 Grainger Ford F-150, will test Martin's cars in January. More than likely, by then Martin will be able to make the short drive from his home here to the speedway to "kibitz" the test session garage talk.