MARTIN'S HISTORY RUNS DEEP AT RICHMOND Poles, points and victories highlight Martin's storied past at Richmond Mark Martin was a wide-eyed rookie the first time he raced at Richmond in 1981, and he in made the most of his first opportunity...
MARTIN'S HISTORY RUNS DEEP AT RICHMOND
Poles, points and victories highlight Martin's storied past at Richmond
Mark Martin was a wide-eyed rookie the first time he raced at Richmond in 1981, and he in made the most of his first opportunity taking the pole and running to a seventh-place finish in the Wrangler 400 on Sept. 13, 1981. It was his second pole and his first of 379 top-10 career finishes.
"Richmond is a track that is a lot of run to race on," added Martin. "It's fast and you can really get around it. You can pass and it offers a lot of excitement to both the competitors and the fans. We've had a lot of great runs and battles there. There is a lot of history at Richmond for me."
Martin won at Richmond in the second race of the 1990 season, but in a controversial decision by NASCAR was later penalized for what was deemed an illegal carburetor spacer. He was allowed to keep the win, but was docked 46 points. He later lost the championship that season by only 26.
"That was the famous carburetor spacer 46-point deal," said Martin. "I left the racetrack that day on top of the world. By the time I got home I got the devastating news. We went from a real high to a real low and it was a tough time for me. We went on to have a great year, but that penalty turned out to be pretty big for us."
In 2004 Martin used a dramatic performance at Richmond in the fall to cap a frantic late-season rally to clinch his spot in the inaugural 'Chase' for the Nextel Cup. The veteran's fifth-place finish at RIR was his fourth in the previous five races. With no room for error, Martin had to survive a multi-car accident that saw his race car get spun around a complete 360 degrees, as others cars wrecked all around him.
"It was kind of like Joey Chitwood (famous stuntman) out there," Martin said. "I was spinning around on the track; cars where everywhere. If anyone so much as made any contact with us, our chances at the chase were finished. I finally stopped, put it in gear and went. We were really lucky that night and the wreck actually put us on a pit sequence that helped us to finish in the top five.
"Making that Chase was a really big deal to me. It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my racing career. We got so far behind and it was such a fight to get there. It's something that will always stand out."
Martin also earned his 41st career (and currently last) Cup pole at Richmond in 2001. In 2005 he used a split second victory over Kurt Busch in the IROC car to clinch his record 13th championship in the International Race of Champions Series.
He also has five wins in the Nationwide car at Richmond, where he set the all-time Nationwide Series record for poles (29), with his qualifying run there in the fall of 2005.
Martin has 23 top-10 and 13 top-five finishes (both track highs) in 44 starts at Richmond.
Like that first season, Martin returns to Richmond this year as a part of a limited schedule. No longer a wild-eyed kid - but a seasoned veteran - he will look to prove that after 27 years and over 12,000 miles he can still get it done at one of NASCAR's most exciting tracks on the circuit.