Las Vegas: Mark Martin preview

MARTIN LOOKS TO CLOSE BOOK ON VEGAS IN SAME FASHION HE OPENED IT -- WITH A TRIP TO VICTORY LANE Inaugural Vegas Victory a Special Memory for Martin CONCORD, N.C. (March 9, 2005) -- Mark Martin is simply not the type of guy to revel in the ...

MARTIN LOOKS TO CLOSE BOOK ON VEGAS IN SAME FASHION HE OPENED IT -- WITH A TRIP TO VICTORY LANE

Inaugural Vegas Victory a Special Memory for Martin

CONCORD, N.C. (March 9, 2005) -- Mark Martin is simply not the type of guy to revel in the moment. For the majority of his distinguished racing career, Martin has taken very little time to bask in any moment, much less realize any occasion or milestone. Instead he always chose to point his attention to the next task at hand, as seldom did more than a week separate Martin from an win and the next track on the schedule. It is most likely for that reason that very little stands out in Martin's mind when quizzed about his 34 Nextel Cup victories.

"I just never really had time to celebrate," said Martin. "Because there was always something else that it was building towards, be it another race, another season, you name it. You basically take your pictures and move on to the next track."

Martin will however admit a few do stand out a little more than others and perhaps none stand out more than victory No. 22 - a win in the inaugural Las Vegas 400 in 1998.

Martin headed into Vegas in 1998 with a completely new team and a revitalized outlook. The win would be the first of a career-high eight for Martin in 1998 and the first for a driver in the manufactured Ford Taurus.

"The win there in '98 is probably the most memorable win I have," said Martin. "We went there, it was a brand new track and we had a brand new team looking to see what we could do.

"Once the race was all over with and we took care of all the Victory Lane stuff and all the media, we were leaving in the helicopter and I looked down at the track and it dawned on me what we had accomplished."

Martin admits that despite years of success on the track, it was in the moments after that race that he first realized just what he and his team had accomplished.

"It was pretty overwhelming. I've had a lot of success in racing, but I never really paid much attention," said Martin. "I was always so busy looking ahead to the next one, but when I flew out of there and saw that track, it dawned on me that it wasn't just some quarter-mile dirt track in Arkansas and it dawned on me just what we had done."

Martin, who is scheduled to run his last Cup race this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, will look to close out at Vegas the same way he came in -- by hitting the jackpot.

In a town where nothing is a sure bet, Martin's consistency in Vegas may be as close as it gets.

In addition to capturing the checkered flag in 1998, Martin has finished in the top 10 in six of his seven Nextel Cup races at the track. He has brought home four top-five finishes; the victory in 1998, a third place finish in 2000, a third-place run in 2002 and a fifth place run last season.

In fact, Martin completed all 1,216 laps of the first five Nextel Cup races at Las Vegas, before engine problems ended his run in 2003. He has completed every lap there in six of seven races, and he has led 186 laps there in the process.

Furthermore, Martin has an average finish of 10.1 on the 1.5-mile track and he has brought home over 1 million dollars in prize earnings from Las Vegas. Martin also has one victory and two poles in three Busch races at LVMS. In addition to his Nextel Cup duties, he will drive the No. 9 Pennzoil Ford in the Busch Series race on Saturday.

"It's been a race track where we have run well," said Martin. "We haven't been back to victory lane (in the Cup car) since the first year, but we sure have run well and we've had some really strong finishes. It suits my driving style. It's a race that is orientated towards handling and in the past we have excelled in that area."

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.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ricky Craven , Carl Edwards , Todd Kluever , Mark Martin