Patience could soon pay off for Martin By Dan McCorriston PHOENIX (Nov. 7, 1999) Mark Martin didn't go in to Sunday's Checker Auto Parts/Dura Lube 500 looking to add to his collection of second-place finishes. He had three this year...
Patience could soon pay off for Martin By Dan McCorriston
PHOENIX (Nov. 7, 1999) Mark Martin didn't go in to Sunday's Checker Auto Parts/Dura Lube 500 looking to add to his collection of second-place finishes. He had three this year before the green flag fell, and that was plenty. Not that second is anything to sneeze at. Most drivers on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series would give their right arm for a second-place finish. But any driver will also tell you he is never satisfied with anything less than a win. Martin's finish on Sunday was indicative of his performance this entire season: close, but no cigar.
Martin was always among the leaders in Sunday's race at Phoenix International Raceway, but led the pack only twice and for just eight laps. Tony Stewart was the man to beat, as illustrated by his mammoth 150 laps led during the race.
"We had a great effort," said the driver of the No.6 car. "If the 20 would have had trouble, we'd have been the car to beat but they didn't. They were the car to beat. You've got to have days like that. Some days it's us and most days it's someone else."
"I'm thrilled with the performance. I'm thrilled with the team and everything ran good. We just got beat. I'm not crying about that. I mean, I thought it was an incredible performance for the whole Roush team. It was great fun. We were working together real well but the 20 car just clobbered us. Those guys were really hooked up."
Martin has racked up an impressive 17 top-5's this year, including two wins and now four second-places. In any other year, Martin's performance might well be good enough to win the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship. But Dale Jarrett's solid sixth-place finish on Sunday, along with his exceptional season, put him 314 points ahead of Martin. That means that if Jarrett merely starts either of the two remaining races, Martin will once again be eliminated from championship contention.
"I'm real proud of this team and what we've been able to accomplish this year," Martin said. "It's real tough to be able to perform at that level for this long. This series (rewards) consistency and we have been able to do that. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes patience to get what you want and I think that day will eventually come."
Should Jarrett win it all, Martin can hopefully be inspired by the fact that Jarrett is also a long-time top-tier driver who toiled for years before finally winning a championship. Sometimes patience is a virtue.