Adversity Strikes Gritty Army Team in Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 17, 2008) -- Going into Sunday's 50th running of the Daytona 500 Mark Martin knew he would need three things to be in contention for the Great American Race -- a fast...
Adversity Strikes Gritty Army Team in Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 17, 2008) -- Going into Sunday's 50th running of the Daytona 500 Mark Martin knew he would need three things to be in contention for the Great American Race -- a fast car, a strong crew and some luck.
In the end, two out of three was not good enough as Martin and the U.S. Army team battled adversity, settling for a 31st-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season opener.
For the first 83 of the 200-lap event at Daytona International Speedway, Martin ran a steady and patient race while positioned inside or near the top 10of the 43-car field.
But on lap 4, the No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet suffered a major setback when both left side tires went flat after running over debris on the 2.5-mile tri-oval. The incident not only dropped Martin back to 42nd place,he went a lap down, was out of the draft and was in serious position of falling two laps behind.
"That was a blow because we really had a good car," said Martin. "Until the tires went down everything was going according to plan."
A dry spell of cautions didn't help Martin's cause, but he eventually goback on the lead lap with the Lucky Dog free pass on Lap 162.
As the 500-mile race was winding down, Martin was moving forward and ran as high as 17th. It appeared he was headed to a possible top-10 or better finish.
"We battled back from almost dead last and were just getting into the thick of things before we got caught up in somebody else's mess," said Martin.
As Martin was continuing his move forward adversity struck again when the Army car got collected with 10 laps remaining in an accident that was triggered by Dave Blaney.
Following the mishap, Martin drove the No. 8 down pit road where the Army crew made quick repairs to the heavily damaged right-side. Martin returned to the track and was able to drive the crippled race car to the checkered flag.
"Sometimes you just can't overcome that kind of stuff," explained Martin. "But the guys hung in there and we fought back, just like our soldiers do every day to protect our freedom. This U.S. Army Team really showed me a lot of grit today."