Mark Martin Gains MNBPAPonoco Spirit Award

Martin wins NMPA award HARRISBURG, N.C. (Jan. 19, 1999) The 1998 NMPA/Pocono Spirit Award was presented to Mark Martin by Dr. Joe Mattioli, CEO of Pocono Raceway, during the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) banquet Sunday ...

Martin wins NMPA award

HARRISBURG, N.C. (Jan. 19, 1999) The 1998 NMPA/Pocono Spirit Award was presented to Mark Martin by Dr. Joe Mattioli, CEO of Pocono Raceway, during the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) banquet Sunday in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Now in its seventh year, the award is designed to recognize sportsmanship, determination, extraordinary performance in the face of adversity, consideration of others and the promotion of motor sports. Martin was honored for his NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship-contending season despite personal tragedy and physical pain.

"It's been nine or 10 years since I received an award from the NMPA," said the No. 6 Valvoline Ford driver. "That shows me just how special and hard to come by this award is.

"I want to personally thank everyone who works behind the scenes in racing. It's not what I do or what the other drivers do. The members of the media are the ones who make this sport because they bring it to the fans."

In August, Martin's father Julian, stepmother Shelley and half-sister Sarah, were killed in a private plane crash. His next win, two weeks later at Bristol Motor Speedway, was dedicated to their memory.

Martin persevered despite the tragedy and went on to finish second in the 1998 standings. His performance included driving to victory lane seven times, including the inaugural Las Vegas 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March, 22 top-five finishes and two pole positions. He also took the checkers in The Winston all-star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Although the competition for the championship was grueling throughout the year, Martin fought another battle on the track -- the constant discomfort of a herniated disk. Aside from pain-ridden performances in races, Martin scored two victories in International Race of Champions (IROC) competition, including the first race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This positioned him to win his third-consecutive IROC title and fourth overall.

NMPA members submit nominations for Spirit Award candidates during each quarter of the year, and the top nominee in each quarter becomes a finalist. The annual award recipient is selected from four finalists, and is honored at the annual NMPA banquet. The three other finalists for the 1998 NMPA/Pocono Spirit Award were Dale Earnhardt, W.C. "Junie" Donlavey and Dale Jarrett.

"Mark's determination and tenacity, and the success those qualities have given him, embodies the spirit of competition that the NMPA/Pocono Spirit Award was created to recognize," said Steve Waid, president of NMPA. "Even in the face of the tragic loss of his father last summer, Mark stands out as one of the most intense competitors in motor sports."

Past winners of the NMPA Spirit Award include Davey Allison and the Allison family in 1992, the families of Allison and Alan Kulwicki as co-winners in 1993, Ernie Irvan in 1994 and 1995, Earnhardt in 1996 and Dave Marcis in 1997.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Dave Marcis , Mark Martin , Alan Kulwicki , Davey Allison