DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (June 8, 2001) â€“ Mark Martin hasnâ€™t captured a points victory at Daytona International Speedway, but he has had a taste of Victory Lane at the â€œWorld Center of Racingâ€ on several occasions. While heâ€™s still ...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (June 8, 2001) – Mark Martin hasn’t captured a points victory at Daytona International Speedway, but he has had a taste of Victory Lane at the “World Center of Racing” on several occasions.
While he’s still searching for his first victory in the Daytona 500 and the Pepsi 400, Martin has paid a visit to Victory Lane five times in other events.
In 1999, Martin captured the Budweiser Shootout, his first victory at Daytona in a stock car. He also has four Rolex 24 At Daytona class victories (1989, 1991, 1992, 1995).
Being among the top NASCAR superstars that haven’t won either the Daytona 500 or the Pepsi 400 doesn’t terribly frustrate Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Ford for Roush Racing.
“It was pretty cool to win the Budweiser Shootout,” Martin said. “That was the closest thing that I’ve done to winning a race at Daytona. I’ve only been a contender at Daytona three times really in all the years. If I had a car that was a contender every time, I would be more disappointed.
“I can’t help it if I don’t have a car good enough to win most of the time at Daytona. We all try. We do everything that we can on the engines, the cars and we test our brains out.”
Martin will have a million reasons to win his first points race at Daytona. Based on his top-five finish last month at Concord, N.C., he’s one of the five drivers eligible for the Winston No Bull 5 $1 million bonus. The other four drivers up for the $1 million bonus are Roush Racing teammate Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte.
“I'm excited to be in the No Bull 5 again,” Martin said. “We've been in it several times, but never won it. My teammate Jeff Burton has won it a few times, so maybe it's our turn. Of course, he'll be in it too this time so we'll have some tough competition.”
Martin has to be a little bit more optimistic entering this year’s nighttime running of the Pepsi 400 on July 7. Burton, driver of the No. 99 CITGO Supergard Ford Taurus, is the defending champion of the mid-summer classic. The Daytona Beach resident is also coming off a fourth-place finish in last year’s Pepsi 400.
“Well, we won the Budweiser Shootout in 1999, which was Roush's first Winston Cup win at Daytona, but for Jeff to win a points race was a real breakthrough for our program,” Martin said. “We've won at Talladega twice before and we've run good enough at Daytona to win, but it's been a matter of having the right performance at the right time.”
According to Martin, pulling off that right performance at Daytona is a little easier at night.
“It makes it a little easier to get the car handling better when it is cooler at night,” Martin said. “Racing at night is the way to go. It is less physically demanding. Some of those day races in July were just sweltering. They were tough on the drivers, crews and the fans.”
See what Martin does in this year’s Pepsi 400. Fans can purchase tickets to the Pepsi 400 online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.