Loudon II: This Week in Ford Racing - pre-race notes

MARTIN CLOSING THE GAP Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, goes into this weekend's New Hampshire 300 trailing leader Sterling Marlin by only nine points in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Below are some tidbits regarding Martin's...

MARTIN CLOSING THE GAP
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, goes into this weekend's New Hampshire 300 trailing leader Sterling Marlin by only nine points in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings. Below are some tidbits regarding Martin's previous championship battles.

* The last time Mark Martin led the point standings was following the DieHard 500 at Talladega on April 16, 2000 -- after the ninth race of the season. Martin posted a sixth-place run that afternoon and grabbed the lead by 24 points from Bobby Labonte, who finished 21st. Labonte regained the points lead the following week at California and held it the rest of the season to win his first NASCAR Winston Cup championship.

* The last time Martin was this close entering the final 10 races of the season was in 1998 when he trailed Jeff Gordon by 67 points with 10 races remaining. Gordon went on to earn the championship by 364 points after winning four of the final 10 events. Martin won twice during that decisive stretch and had seven top-five finishes overall.

* The last time Martin led the point standings with 10 races or less left was in 1997 when he held a 13-point lead over Gordon with 10 events remaining. In what ended up being the closest three-way battle in NASCAR Winston Cup history, Gordon prevailed by 14 points over second-place Dale Jarrett and 15 points over third-place Martin.

* The latest Martin has ever held the top spot in a points race was in 1990 when he led Dale Earnhardt by 45 points with only two events remaining. Earnhardt went on to win at Phoenix and take a six-point lead into the final race in Atlanta, where he finished third. Martin's sixth-place effort that day meant a runner-up spot in the standings by 26 points.

NOTING LOUDON
New Hampshire International Speedway has been a good track for Ford Racing since the NASCAR Winston Cup Series began racing there in 1993. Following are some track notes:

* Ford has won seven of the 15 NASCAR Winston Cup races at NHIS and has won at least once every year since the series started racing twice per season at the one-mile facility in 1997.

* Ford has had at least three top-five finishers 10 times in 15 all-time series races at NHIS, including the July race when Dale Jarrett, Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman ended up third, fourth and fifth, respectively. In addition, Ford has had four top-five finishers three times (1994, 1996 and 2000).

* Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Citgo Taurus, leads all competitors with four NASCAR Winston Cup wins at NHIS. He has seven top-five efforts overall in 15 starts.

* Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 UPS Taurus, has posted one win and seven top-five finishes in 15 starts at NHIS after finishing third in July.

* Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, also has seven top-five finishes at NHIS, but is coming off a 16th-place effort in the July race.

-ford-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Sterling Marlin , Ryan Newman , Mark Martin