MARTIN MOVES INTO RICHMOND LOOKING FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE CHASE BERTH Veteran vows to 'go down swinging' in heated battle in Race for the Chase CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 6, 2006) -- Mark Martin is no stranger the pressure of point racing in the Nextel...
MARTIN MOVES INTO RICHMOND LOOKING FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE CHASE BERTH
Veteran vows to 'go down swinging' in heated battle in Race for the Chase
CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 6, 2006) -- Mark Martin is no stranger the pressure of point racing in the Nextel Cup Series. For the past 19 years Martin has been a mainstay at the top echelon of the Cup point standings. Martin has four runner-up finishes for the Nextel Cup and he has finished inside the top-four in four of the last five years. Two years ago, Martin was forced to battle back from a heavy deficit to earn his spot in the inaugural Chase for the Nextel Cup 10-race playoff. This season Martin enters the 26th and cutoff race in ninth place, two points ahead of 10th and 32 points ahead of 11th-place Kasey Kahne. If there is to be a third consecutive birth in the Nextel Chase for the Championship for Martin and the No. 6 Team, they will have to earn it on Saturday; a fact Martin has no problem with.
"Hey, I've been driving this No. 6 car for 19 years and we aren't about to stop fighting now," said Martin. "I think that we are in the Chase, but I can tell you this, no matter what we will go down swinging. There is still plenty left in this team and the ingredients are there for a championship. Richmond is one of my favorite tracks and if we can stay out of trouble, then we should be able to race our way into that thing.
Martin had one of, if not the, strongest cars in the field last weekend at California. He raced his way all the way from 38th to sixth, before getting tangled up with lapped traffic and sustaining severe damage to the right front fender of his No. 6 Ford Fusion. Martin got caught up in an accident two weeks ago at Bristol as well, or the outcome at Richmond might have little significance on Martin's chase status. Still the team will play with the cards delt them as they move into Richmond with a positive outlook.
"All we can do is go there and run our race," said Martin. "Everyone wants to point to one or two races at the end here and talk about the pressure, but the truth is, this race isn't worth any more or less points than the second race or the 13th race or any other race this season. It's all about what you do each week. We had chances early on to put some distance on this thing, and for one reason or another, we weren't able to capitalize on some of the chances we had.
"So it does some down to this week in Richmond, but all we can do is approach it like we have the rest of the races. We'll put our best foot forward and go out and try to win this race. That's what we do each week. What I can tell you is that nobody on this team plans on giving up and we are focused and well aware of the task at hand."
Two years ago Martin went into Richmond just hanging on to a place in the chase. All looked lost when he spun out in the middle of the track midway through the race. Martin's No. 6 Ford did a complete 360 degree spin, with cars swerving all around, before the veteran was able to collect it, grab a gear and escape unscathed. He went on to finish the race fifth and secure his spot 10-race 'playoff.'
This year Martin and the team will hope for a little less drama at the three-quarter-mile track, where Martin won the pole and finished first in his first race there in 1981.
"That was crazy that night," said Martin. "It looked like Joey Chitwood or something out there and we were really lucky to be able to come back from that and get a top-five. That was really a special year, with what all we had to go through to get to that point. However, hopefully this weekend we can just go in, post a solid run and lock up our spot with much drama."
-credit: roush racing