WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES Martin, No. 6 ViagraÂ® Racing Team look for smoother path to chase in '05 CONCORD, N.C. (June 29, 2005) * A year ago Mark Martin and the ViagraÂ® Racing Team went into Sonoma 16th in the Nextel Cup points race, 578...
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
Martin, No. 6 Viagra® Racing Team look for smoother path to chase in '05
CONCORD, N.C. (June 29, 2005) * A year ago Mark Martin and the Viagra® Racing Team went into Sonoma 16th in the Nextel Cup points race, 578 points out of first and a seemingly insurmountable 205 points of 10th place; where Martin would need to be to make the inaugural Nextel Cup Chase. The following week, going into the Pepsi 400, Martin still trailed the 10th spot by 185 points. In the end, Martin and the No. 6 team would eventually go on a tear, as Martin mounted what might go down as the greatest charge of his accomplished career. The Viagra Team simply dug down and turned it up a notch, running to five top-five finishes in the last 10 races to eventually finish eighth before the 10-race cutoff.
Moving into July, Martin's chances at the inaugural Chase for the Nextel cup were fledgling at best, but going into the finale at Homestead the team still harbored championship hopes. In the end Martin would finish fourth in the final standings, his 11th career top-five finish in the Nextel Cup points race.
"I tell you what, it was the hardest thing I've ever done in my entire racing career," said Martin of his frantic flurry to climb back into the top 10. "I had to dig down so far to find what it took to get into that chase by the cutoff.
"We had started the year in dead last place after losing the engine at Daytona and after that it was one step forward and two steps back," added Martin. "We'd have a strong top-five finish and then we'd have problems in the next two races. At one point it really looked like we didn't have a shot. But you just can't say enough about Pat (Tryson) and this Viagra® Team. They just wouldn't give up and wouldn't go away. That is probably the reason that it meant so much when we made it in at Richmond."
This year Martin and Tryson will look for a different trek to the final 10 races. After 16 races Martin sits in fifth place, only 30 out of fourth and just 228 behind first. The team's been consistent, posting 10 top-15 finishes in 16 races, including eight top-10's and five top-fives.
Rather than concentrating all its efforts on simply making the chase, Tryson and Martin would prefer putting that emphasis on making a strong run towards Martin's first career Nextel Cup title once the 10-race 'playoff' gets started in late September.
However, Martin warns not to get ahead of oneself.
"Hey, we first have to worry about making the chase," said the 23-year NASCAR veteran. "We are fifth right now and we've ran pretty good, but we know what a string of bad luck or a loss of focus can do. We have a great race team and one that is capable of winning a championship, but we just have to stay focused and take it one race at a time. It's our goal to go out, run well and win races. If we do that the other stuff tends to fall into place.
"Of course I'd like nothing more than to win it all in my last year," added Martin. "I'd love to mess things up for NASCAR by going out on top and then walking away, but I have to be realistic. Yes, we have a shot and yes, we are capable, but to put it all on one year * well that's just asking a lot. I do think we have a shot and I do know that every person on this team will give 110 percent and do whatever it takes to win this thing. But even if we don't, that doesn't mean I'll look back on it all and be any less proud.
"We've had a great year so far," added Martin. "And the "Salute to You" Tour is going great. We've been able to do a lot of things and we've had good finishes. We'll just have to keep it going and see what happens in the end. To tell you the truth, I'm excited about going into the second 10 races of the season with this race team. We keep getting better and better each week and I'm looking forward to what we might be able to do.
"However, what I can tell you is that if we are going to be able to accomplish our goals, it will require us to probably dig even deeper than we had to a year ago and that was really difficult. However, I'm confident that everybody on this team is willing to do that. A lot of these guys came back just to give me a shot at this thing and I don't plan on letting them down."
Roush Racing is a subsidiary of Livonia, Mich., based Roush Industries that operates ten motorsports teams; five in NASCAR Nextel Cup with drivers Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards; three in the Busch Series with Martin, Kenseth and Edwards, and two in the Craftsman Truck Series with drivers Ricky Craven and Todd Kluever.