WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES Martin, No. 6 Viagra* Team look to put emphasis on final 10 races CONCORD, N.C. (August 12, 2005) -- Last season Mark Martin left Indianapolis Motor Speedway clearly on the outside looking in. After cutting a tire...
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
Martin, No. 6 Viagra* Team look to put emphasis on final 10 races
CONCORD, N.C. (August 12, 2005) -- Last season Mark Martin left Indianapolis Motor Speedway clearly on the outside looking in. After cutting a tire on the final lap of the Brickyard 400, Martin fell to 15th in the points, 123 points outside of the top 10, with only five races remaining before the cutoff for the inaugural 'Chase' for the Nextel Cup. And while Martin's triumphant bid to become a part of the first ever playoff chase for the Cup is the stuff legends are made of, Martin and the team hope to take a different approach to making the Chase this season.
"I said it then and it still holds true. Making that chase was the hardest thing I've ever done in my career. We got ourselves so for behind, because of all the crazy things that happened, that we found ourselves in a do-or-die situation that allowed little to know room for any thing to go wrong," said Martin. "To say we were behind the eight ball would be an understatement.
"We just couldn't get ahead," added Martin. "Every time we tried, something else happened. Indy could have easily been the last straw, but it says a lot about Pat Tryson and this racing team that we were able to run well enough and do what we needed to do to break into the chase."
Martin reeled off top five runs in four of the next five races, including top-threes in three of those final 'regular season' events. Martin would break into the top-10 for the first time of the year after a third place run in the season's 25th race at California Speedway. A week later, despite being spun completely around in a 360 degree circle, he avoided damage in a multi-car accident to finish fifth at Richmond and secure his spot in the inaugural chase for the Nextel Cup.
This season Martin and the team hope to avoid such drama and quietly secure a position in the top 10, instead saving their emphasis on excelling once the green flag drops on the final 10 races that will decide the 2005 Nextel Cup Champion.
"We had to put so much emphasis on getting into the top 10 that we didn't have near as much left once we got there," said Martin. "This time we hope to save up some of our test and really concentrate on winning that championship."
This year Martin appears in much better shape heading down the stretch. This time around on the strength of a seventh-place run he left Indy in sixth position, 149 points inside the top 10, as opposed to 123 points out of it -- a 272 point difference moving into the season's final road course race at Watkins Glen.
"Still, we have to make sure we make the chase before we go worrying about the final 10 races," added Martin. "It does look like we are in better shape, but anything can happen and a couple of cases of bad luck or something and we could be back to where we were. But Pat and the team have done an outstanding job this season and I really do believe that we could have something for them once this final 10 starts and I think that we can be legitimate contenders down the road."