Martin Excited About 2004 Season
Despite tough 2002 season, Martin likes what he see going into next season
CONCORD, N.C. (Nov. 21, 2003) - It is no secret that 2003 did not turn out to be the season that Mark Martin or the No. 6 team expected or envisioned. Coming off a second-place points finish in 2002, Martin was expected to make another strong run at a Winston Cup championship. Going into 2003 the team had plenty of momentum, but in the end the things just did not go Martin's way.
"It wasn't the season that we were looking for, that's for sure," said Martin. "We had probably the worst luck that I've ever had. Early on in the season we were okay, but we kept getting involved in other people's accidents or we would have some sort of problem of our own to deal with.
"Then in the second half of the season we were just off a bit at times," said Martin. "But if you look at it, so were all of the Fords during the second half of the season. It's frustrating, but all you can do is keep working. That's what this team has done and we'll rebound."
While there is no denying the team lacked the speed it had in 2002, perhaps what the team missed the most was luck. Martin was involved in 13 accidents in 2003, including one at the Sharpie 500 in August when the No. 6 team clearly had the car to beat. In addition, four engine failures took their toll, as well as a flat tire at Dover and a defective oil line at the Coca-Cola 600 - both strong tracks for Martin and the No. 6 team.
A dropped lug nut during a late pit stop at the spring Darlington race dropped Martin from first to a fourth-place finish. In addition Martin was wrecked on the last lap at Fontana, dropping the No. 6 Viagra Ford Taurus from fourth to a 17th place finish.
However, a racing veteran like Martin knows that pointing out the facts does not change the results.
"It doesn't really matter what happened last season," said Martin. "What we have to do is look to next season. The moment we were out of the race at Homestead, we were looking towards Daytona and the 500. That's because that's the next race and that's the start of the next season. That's just the way that I am and until I stop racing that's the way I'm going to be.
"I can't worry about what happened last year or last week," added Martin. "All I can do is go forward and start working on winning the next race. When that's over we'll worry about the one after that. We have a great team here and I know that. I'm excited about Pat (Tryson) and what he brings to the table and I'm excited about next year. We've changed some things up and I can't wait to get rolling on it next year."
Pat Tryson took over as Martin's crew chief for the last two races of 2002 and will look to rejuvenate the No. 6 program. In addition a new body for the Taurus in 2004, as well as a new cylinder head for Ford, are all reasons for the No. 6 team's optimism.
As for Martin he just can't wait to climb back in the No. 6 Viagra Ford and go to work on next season.
Roush Racing is a subsidiary of Livonia, Mich., based Roush Industries that operates nine motorsports teams; five in NASCAR Winston Cup with drivers Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle; and two in the Craftsman Truck Series with drivers Jon Wood and Carl Edwards. Sponsorship inquiries should contact John Miller, Roush Racing,(704) 370-1010.
Viagra® Racing Team Concludes 2003 Season at Homestead
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagra® Racing Team
Home-Stead Speedway/November 16, 2003
HOMESTEAD, FLA. (Nov. 16, 2003) – Mark Martin and the Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) Racing team carried high hopes into Sunday’s Ford 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Indeed Martin and the team had one of the fastest cars on the track during the season finale. The team looked poised to take home another top 10 finish, when Martin and the No. 0 car of Ward Burton tangled up on lap 243; sending both cars to the garage and providing an early ending to both team’s day and season.
"We got too racy there with Ward there,” said Martin. “Ward and I were racing real hard and we got together and went around. It’s an unfortunate way to end the day because we had a pretty fast car all day, especially on long runs.”
Banking was added to the track during the off-season and the teams were allowed to test and choose between two cars to run during Sunday’s race. After testing on Wednesday, Martin and new crew chief Pat Tryson opted to go with a car that Tryson brought over from the No. 21 team of the Wood Brothers and the decision paid off. Martin posted some of the fastest times on the track during Friday’s practice session. However, due to track conditions the car was overly loose during qualifying and Martin was forced to take a provisional, starting 40th in Sunday’s race.
However, Martin wasted no time moving up the field, gaining five positions just three laps into the race when the day’s first caution was called. Several of the cars dove into the pits for fuel. Martin stayed out and restarted the race in 21st position. The car’s handling tightened up and Martin had fallen to 22nd place when the day’s second caution came out on lap 28. Martin came into the pits for four tires and to free the car up with wedge and air pressure adjustments. Martin once again restarted the race in 21st place.
The adjustments saw huge payoffs and Martin started to run some of the fastest times on the track, moving into 15th place by lap 52. By lap 67, Martin was the fastest car on the track, as he powered the No. 6 Viagra Ford into the top 10. Martin had moved all the way to seventh place when caution No. three was called on lap 74. After another quick caution a few laps later Martin was running in ninth place, as the car began to once again get tight in its handling.
Martin remained in the top 10 and was running ninth when the day’s fifth caution was issued on lap five. The team came in for four tires and fuel and to once again make a wedge adjustment in hopes of freeing up the car. Martin restarted the race in 12th place and was running 11th when caution no. six was called a few laps later on lap 141. The majority of the field pitted for tires, but Martin came into the pits for fuel only and was running in sixth place when the race went green on lap 151.
Martin broke into the top 10 on the next lap, but got caught up in traffic and quickly fell to 10th place by lap 155. By lap 168 Martin had dropped all the way to 17th position and the car again became tight. Stronger on long runs, the car began to improve and Martin broke back into the top 15 by lap 183. Two laps later the veteran maneuvered by three cars to take 12th place.
The No. 6 was running in 11th place when the team came into the pits under caution for four tires, fuel and another wedge adjustment. Excellent work in the pits saw the team reel off a 14.227-second stop and Martin returned to the field in ninth place and with enough fuel to go the distance in the race.
Still struggling on short runs, Martin dropped to 11th place on lap 226, but rebounded and moved back into the top 10 on lap 241. Two laps later Martin and Burton got tangled up in the accident and Martin and the team had to settle for a 33rd place finish. A disappointing finish to an equally disappointing season that saw several races end after getting tangled up in accidents.
Still Martin was upbeat after the race about his team’s future.
“We had a pretty fast car, and I was really happy with it,” said Martin. “It was certainly a top 10 car for sure. We were really great on the long runs. I wish I would have had some race cars like that this year because that thing was awesome.”
“I just can’t say enough about the way this team hung in there this year and kept fighting no matter what happened. I can’t thank them enough for that. I’m excited about what we have going on right now and we are ready to tackle the off season and come back strong next year.”
Mark Martin Post Race Notes and Quotes - Ford 400
November 16, 2003
MARK MARTIN - NO. 6 VIAGRA TAURUS (FINISHED 33RD)
"We got too racy there with Ward [Burton]. Ward and I were racing real hard and we got together and went around. We had a pretty fast car, and I was pretty happy with it. It was certainly a Top-10 car for sure. I was really great on long runs. I wish I would have had some race cars like that this year because that thing was awesome."
Martin saw talent in Kenseth and helped him get started in NASCAR
By Ed Hinton
Published November 14, 2003
HOMESTEAD • Matt Kenseth's eyes don't mist and his voice doesn't crack when he tells folks how he got where he is. Still, he may be the most grateful driver to win the Winston Cup.
If Mark Martin hadn't befriended him out of the blue, Kenseth's most prestigious title might still be the championship of his local track near Madison, Wis.
Almost certainly, Sunday's season-ending Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway wouldn't be what it will be for Kenseth -- a de facto joy ride, a race he doesn't even need to enter, having locked up the Cup last Sunday at Rockingham, N.C.
It's a feeling Martin has never known, and may never.
Four times the diminutive veteran has finished second in the standings, but has never won the championship, in 16 years of trying as hard as anyone in NASCAR. And at 44, his time is dwindling.
Kenseth, 31, remembers feeling over the hill in 1997, at 25. A deal to drive in the Busch series, NASCAR's answer to Triple-A baseball, had fallen through. He'd returned to the American Speed Association tour of short tracks in the Midwest, resigned to spending the rest of his career in the minor leagues.
"I felt like my time was past," he said. "I didn't think I'd ever get the chance again, to be honest."
Then a former rival on the Wisconsin bullrings, Robbie Reiser, who'd turned team owner, offered him another Busch ride, but only for "four races or so," as Kenseth recalled.
It was at the second race, at Talladega, that Kenseth's life changed so profoundly.
"I met Mark in the drivers' meeting there," he said. "I guess he'd heard of me from racing in Wisconsin [years earlier, Martin had come up through ASA]. We both drove for the same owners up there, obviously at different times and at a lot of the same tracks.
"He called me the next week and said he wanted to help me. He didn't know how he was going to do it, but he wanted to get me hooked up to Jack."
Jack Roush -- fielding as many as five drivers per season -- owns the biggest bloc of teams in NASCAR. Martin has been his senior driver since Roush moved from sports cars into stock-car racing in 1988.
"I think he basically begged Jack to give me an opportunity," Kenseth said.
"I liked his style," Martin said. "I knew that he knew a lot about race cars because I knew where he came from, and that he was winning races where he came from.
"I knew it was him, and not his cars. There was no room for him at Roush Racing, and I still insisted."
On Martin's word alone, Roush signed Kenseth to a long-term contract in '97.
"To do what, I don't know, but they signed me up real early," Kenseth said. "I did a lot of testing with them. Even if I didn't drive a lot, I went to a lot of his tests and learned a lot.
"He's taught me so much, especially my first few years, and I can't thank him enough for all the help he's given me."
By consensus of Martin's peers, there is no more unselfish driver in NASCAR.
Martin is the Bobby Allison of his time, in that his heart has never left the Saturday-night bullrings and he never has considered himself above the struggling young talent there.
But this is his masterpiece of kindness. After all those years of heartbreak, Martin has mentored the 2003 champion in only Kenseth's fourth full season.
Bill Elliott, Martin's longtime friend, said Martin is certainly thrilled for Kenseth, "but you know Mark's got to be struggling inside."
Nonsense, Martin said.
"There's no bittersweet here," he said. "What I've accomplished [33 career Cup race wins], I'm proud of. What Matt has accomplished, I'm proud of as well. But I'm not more proud of Matt than I was a year ago because the actions make the man; the trophy doesn't."
At last, Martin will be listed on a Winston Cup trophy -- as car owner.
"I don't know how I feel about that," Martin said. "I'm embarrassed to some degree because the only reason I'm a partner in the `17' car [Kenseth's Ford Taurus] is because it was a gift to me from Jack Roush."
Essentially, Roush gave Martin a piece of the company in gratitude for loyalty and leadership over the years.
Self-deprecating as ever, Martin maintained that "Matt Kenseth and Robbie Reiser [Kenseth's crew chief] have earned this thing, and even though I cared an awful lot and tried to help as much as I could, my contribution to this doesn't add up to anything, in my opinion."
Remembering the hard-knocks short tracks of America and the thousands of drivers who still struggle on them, "I'm just so thankful to have this opportunity," Kenseth said. "When you think about it, only 43 of us get to do this every Sunday.
"There are so many great race drivers who never get the chance. I've been real lucky to be with a top-notch team, right from my rookie year."
The only reason is Martin.
"I've been wrong about a lot of things in my life," Martin said, "but I was right about Matt Kenseth."
2003 Mark Martin Homestead Miami Speedway Track Notes for November 16, 2003
Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
Frd 400/Homestead Miami Speedway
Roush Racing & Compiled Information
November 11, 2003
DRIVER: Mark Martin
CAR OWNER: Jack Roush
CREW CHIEF: Pat Tryson
2002 EVENT WINNER: Kurt Busch
MARK MARTIN - 2002 EVENT
RACE # 36, NOVEMBER 17 - Homestead Miami Speedway
Ford 400 - Started 34th, Finished 4th
Martin and the Viagra® Racing team concluded their 2002 season with their third straight top-10 run and their fifth top-10 finish in as many weeks. The fourth place finish marked Martin's 12th top five run of the season and the 22nd time the Viagra® Racing team finished inside the field's top-10. The team struggled with the car on Friday and qualified a disappointing 34th. With second place locked up coming into the race, Martin wasted little time moving up through the field. By lap 12 the veteran driver had the No. 6 Ford Taurus running 25th. Martin broke into the field's top-20 by lap 49. Martin broke into the field's top-10 by lap 180. Caution was again called for the sixth and final time of the day on lap 236, but the Viagraâ Racing team opted to stay out running in sixth when the field went green with only 24 laps remaining. Martin struggled with the car, dropping back to eighth place by lap 257, but the veteran mounted a late run, gaining three spots to fourth place when the checkered flag dropped on the race and the 2002 season. The strong run moved Martin to within 38 points of the championship and marked the third straight week he finished better than eventual champion Tony Stewart.
MARTIN, VIAGRA® RACING TO CONCLUDE SEASON AT HOMESTEAD
Martin and the Viagra® Racing Team will head south to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the final race of the 2003 season. Martin and the No. 6 team will look to end the season on a strong note at a track where Martin has finished in the top five in 80 percent of his races there.
The Viagra® Racing Team will take two cars to Homestead. With the changes being made to the track, the teams will be able to test two cars on Wednesday before making their final decision on a car for the weekend. The team will test and most likely go with RRC-106 (Martinsville and Phoenix). The team will also look at a car brought over with Pat Tryson from the Wood Brothers (Car 66) that was ran by Ricky Rudd at Darlington.
CHANGES AT HOMESTEAD
Homestead-Miami Speedway will have a different look and feel this weekend. During the off-season the track was reconfigured with with 20-degree, variable banking in the turns as well as the SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) Barrier. With the variable banking system, the degree of banking increases progressively from the bottom to the top of each turn. At the midpoint of each turn, there is 18 degrees banking at the bottom, 19 degrees in the middle and 20 degrees at the top. The variable banking system is designed to create three competitive racing grooves around the track.
Homestead has traditionally been a strong track for Martin and the No. 6 team. Although he has never won there, Martin has finished fourth or better in three of his four races there. In addition in six Busch Series races at Homestead, Martin finished in the top five on five occasions.
DID YOU KNOW?
Martin has finished in the top four in three of four races at Homestead.
MARK MARTIN - FAST FACTS - HOMESTEAD MIAMI SPEEDWAY
Mark Martin has finished in the top four in three of his four WC races at Homestead (75 percent), making him and teammate Jeff Burton the only two drivers to post three top-five finishes at the track.
Martin finished fourth in the inaugural race at Homestead in '99 and fourth there last year.
Martin ran six races at Homestead in the Busch series, finishing inside the top five on five occasions (83 percent).
Combined, Martin has run 10 NASCAR races at Homestead, finishing inside the top five eight times, inside the top four six times and inside the top three four times.
Martin finished second at Homestead in his last Busch race in 2000 for his highest finish at the track.
Martin's 8.25 average finish at Homestead is the second best at the track.
QUOTING MARK MARTIN AND PAT TRYSON
Martin on racing at Homestead:
"Well, we've run really well there in the past, but they made a lot of changes to the track over the last few months. They've went in an added banking, so I guess it could go either way for us. I am excited about where this race team is headed and I'm excited about how we ran last weekend. I like the things that we are doing and I think that we will see the rewards for the things that we are doing now, sometime down the road. Hopefully it won't be too long. Nothing would be better than to go out with a strong run or a win this weekend at Homestead."
Crew Chief Pat Tryson on racing at Homestead:
"We had a pretty good run last week, before we fell out of the race. We are taking a couple of cars down to Homestead for Mark to test and he'll be able to pick the one he likes the most. Hopefully we'll be able to come up with another fast car and end the season on a strong note and give us a little momentum to carry over as we get ready for next season."
Viagra® Racing Team Finishes 41st at Rockingham
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagra® Racing Team
North Carolina Speedway/November 9, 2003
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (Nov. 9, 2003) –With a new chemistry and an optimistic outlook Mark Martin and the Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) Racing team rolled into North Carolina for the next to the last race of the season. The race marked the debut of Pat Tryson as the new crew chief for the No. 6 team, and for a while it looked as if it would be a memorable start. Martin was running some of the fastest times on the track and after a late adjustment, felt the car was better than it had been all day. However, engine problems moments later would end the team’s day early.
"We made an adjustment there on that last pit stop and the car was really, really fast,” said Martin. “I really like the way things are going. I liked my car today and I like the way things are going with Pat (Tryson) and all these guys. I'm incredibly disappointed that we broke again, but I guess you'll have that in this business. We're headed in the right direction. Maybe all of this will be behind us next year."
Martin, who qualified 12th on Friday and was among the leaders in both of Saturday’s practice sessions, wasted little time once the green flag dropped on Sunday, powering into the top 10 on the first lap. By lap 14 Martin had moved all the way to fifth place, before the car started to become ‘loose off’ in the corner. Martin dropped back to 12th where he was running when the day’s first caution was issued on lap 75.
The team came in for four tires and to make air pressure and track bar adjustments in hopes of tightening the car’s handling. A quick stop of 14.68 seconds sent Martin out in 11th place when the field went green on lap 81. Two quick cautions on laps 84 and 92 saw Martin in 10th place when the team came into the pits under yellow to attempt to further tighten the handling with air pressure and track bar adjustments.
Most of the cars stayed out and Martin was in 17th place when the field when green on lap 98. The adjustments paid off and Martin moved up to 13th by lap 121 and into the top 10 on lap 145, where he was running when caution number six was called on lap 154. With the car handling well, but a little too tight the team came into the pits to make wedge and air pressure adjustments. A slower than usual stop cost the No. 6 team three places on the track and Martin returned to the field in 13th position when the field went green on lap 160.
Martin had worked his way up to 12th place by the race’s halfway point on lap 196. He moved to as high as 11th before the car once again got tight in the middle and loose off the corners. The team came into the pits on lap 232 for a green-flag stop while running 15th. Martin overshot the pit and had to back up into the stall on pit road. The team put on four fresh tires and made further adjustments. Martin quickly returned to the field, but lost the engine just moments later.
Roush Racing teammate and Martin protégé Matt Kenseth went on to finish fourth in the race and clinch the 2003 Winston Cup Championship, the first for car owner Jack Roush. The moment was memorable for Martin who helped bring Kenseth to Roush Racing and owns are part of Kenseth’s car. Ironically, Kenseth clinched the championship at the track where Martin and Roush teamed for the organization’s first Winston Cup victory in the fall of 1989.
"I've been wrong about a lot of things in my life, but I was right about Matt Kenseth,” said Martin after the race. “I'm really proud of that. I liked his style. I knew that he knew a lot about racecars because I knew where he came from and that he was winning races where he came from. I knew it was him and not his cars.”
“I wanted Roush Racing to have him. There was no spot for him at Roush Racing and I still insisted. They went to work and put him under contract and let him race in the Busch Series for a couple of years until the opportunity came up. Robbie Reiser and Matt Kenseth have won this championship because they've made more of the opportunity that they've had than anybody else."
The team concludes the 2003 season next week at Homestead, where Martin has finished inside the top four in three of four races.
Ford Racing Notes and Quotes - Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400
November 9, 2003
MARK MARTIN - NO. 6 VIAGRA TAURUS - POST-RACE COMMENTS
WHAT DID YOU SEE IN MATT TO CONVINCE JACK TO BRING MATT TO ROUSH RACING?
"I've been wrong about a lot of things in my life, but I was right about Matt Kenseth. I'm real proud of that. I liked his style. I knew that he knew a lot about race cars because I knew where he came from and that he was winning races where he came from. I knew it was him and not his cars. I wanted Roush Racing to have him. There was no spot for him at Roush Racing and I still insisted. They went to work and put him under contract and let him race in the Busch Series for a couple of years until the opportunity came up. Robbie Reiser and Matt Kenseth have won this championship because they've made more of the opportunity that they've had than anybody else."
THOUGHTS ON BEING LISTED AS THE CHAMPION CAR OWNER?
"I'm embarrassed to some degree because the only reason I'm a partner in the 17 car is because it was a gift to me from Jack Roush. I don't really have a feeling because I don't feel like I deserved to be a part of this thing. Matt Kenseth and Robbie Reiser have earned this and even though I cared an awful lot and even though I tried to help as much as I could, my contribution to this doesn't add up to anything in my opinion. So I don't know how I feel. I feel a little uncomfortable with it. I'm really happy for Jack Roush. I'm really happy for Matt and Robbie and I'm real proud of them, and I'm real proud to say I was right about Matt Kenseth. I think this is a good thing for all of us - everyone involved with Roush Racing - and I think that's what we should be doing. I'm not bitter about the things I haven't accomplished in my life or in my career. I'm very proud of the things that I have. There's no bittersweet here. What I've done and what I've accomplished, I'm proud of. What Matt had done and what he's accomplished, I'm very proud of as well, but I'm not more proud of Matt today than I was a year ago because the actions make the man, the trophy doesn't. This trophy doesn't change Matt Kenseth, so that's another cool thing too."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WATCH THE END OF THE RACE FROM THE PIT BOX?
"It feels real different. It doesn't feel the same from the seat - the excitement and everything. It's really a different feeling and a different look. It's much more exciting. When you're standing watching, you don't realize it because you're so wrapped up in the things that are going on on the race track and driving the car. It's a really different situation. I hated to be out of the race. I'm glad that once my bad luck started rolling this year, I'm just glad it kept coming here and didn't slide over to the 17 because we've had to endure enormous amount of disappointment and heartbreak this year - along with from time to time not having the performance that we were looking for. A lot of days that we were getting decent performance, I've been standing watching. But usually when I'm out of the race, I'm out of here. Today, I was around for 150 laps and I understand why the fans get so wrapped up in this. It's very exciting. It's really exciting to see this happen for Matt and Robbie and the whole DeWalt team and Jack Roush."
MARK MARTIN - NO. 6 VIAGRA TAURUS (FINISHED 41ST)
"We made an adjustment there on that last pit stop and the car was really, really fast. I really like the way things are going. I liked my car today and I like the way things are going with Pat [Tryson, crew chief] and all these guys. I'm incredibly disappointed that we broke again, but I guess you'll have that in this business. We're headed in the right direction. Maybe all of this will be behind us next year."
2003 Mark Martin North Carolina Track Notes for November 9, 2003
Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
Pop Secret 400/North Carolina Speedway
Roush Racing & Compiled Information
November 4, 2003
DRIVER: Mark Martin
CAR OWNER: Jack Roush
CREW CHIEF: Pat Tryson
2002 WINNER: JOHNNY BENSON
MARK MARTIN 2002 EVENT
RACE #34, NOVEMBER 3 - North Carolina Speedway
Pop Secret 400 - Started 5th, Finished 2nd
The No. 6 Viagra® Ford Taurus was strong all weekend, qualifying fifth on Friday and posted the second fastest time in Saturday's final practice. Sunday's race was no different. By lap 33 Martin was running the fastest times on the track and by lap 41 the Viagra® Ford took the lead for the first time of the day. Martin, who led a race-high 144 laps and earned 10 bonus points for the day, passed teammate Kurt Busch on lap 366 to move into second place, and spent the last 20 laps of the race battling eventual winner Johnny Benson for the lead. Martin would pull within inches of passing Benson, but was unable to regain the lead as Benson went on to win his first career Winston Cup race.
Martin, Viagra® Racing Take Revamped Team, Fresh Attitude to Rockingham
Martin and the Viagra® Racing Team will travel to Rockingham, N.C. this weekend for the Pop Secret 400 at North Carolina Speedway, where Martin finished seventh in the spring.
The Viagra® Racing Team will take RRC-104 to Rockingham this weekend. RRC-104 last ran at Darlington in the Southern 500. The car was fast, qualifying seventh, but finished 33rd after getting caught up in an early accident. In its only other career start, the car finished 14th earlier this year at Chicago.
DID YOU KNOW?
Martin's first Winston Cup victory came at Rockingham on Oct. 22, 1989.
MAKING A CHANGE
The Viagra® Racing Team will go into this weekend with a new crew chief. Pat Tryson will lead up the team, taking the place of Ben Leslie, who took Tryson's place with the No. 21 team in a Roush Racing, Wood Brothers crew chief switch. Tryson becomes Martin's third crew chief at Roush Racing.
AT THE ROCK
North Carolina Speedway is one of Martin's strongest tracks, with the veteran driver having compiled 19 top 10 runs in 34 starts. In addition, Martin has finished in the top five on 11 occasions (.33) and has two wins and five poles at the 1.017-mile track. Martin finished second in the Pop Secret 400 a year ago and seventh at Rockingham in the spring.
MARK MARTIN - FAST FACTS - NORTH CAROLINA SPEEDWAY
Martin's five poles ties for the most at Rockingham.
Martin raced to his first career victory at Rockingham in the AC-Delco 500 on Oct. 22, 1989.
Martin has 24 top-10 starts, 19 top-10 finishes and 12 top-five finishes in 34 races at Rockingham.
Martin has finished eighth of better, including one victory, in seven of the last 11 races at Rockingham.
Martin holds virtually every record in the Rockingham Busch race, including 11 wins and six poles. Last spring he was named the Grand Marshal of the Busch race there.
QUOTING MARK MARTIN
Mark Martin on North Carolina:
"It's a great track to race at, although it can be a real challenge for any driver and team. It can be a hard place to figure out the setup, but we've had a lot of success there on long runs. Last year we really nailed the setup and we had a great race in the fall. We were pretty good there this past spring as well. This will be the first race for Pat (Tryson) as our new crew chief, so he'll be challenged right off the bat. However, I'm confident that we can go to Rockingham this weekend and put together a strong run. We've mixed some things up and we have a little bit of a new look with Pat. Hopefully that can be the right catalyst to help get us back on track."
Mark Martin to make return to Busch Series in Hershey's Kisses 300
November 3, 2003
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Mark Martin is back in the NASCAR Busch Series.
After leaving the Busch Series in 2000 as the all-time winning driver with 45 victories, Martin will return in 2004 and compete in three races including the season-opening Hershey's Kisses 300 on Saturday, Feb. 14 at historic Daytona International Speedway.
Martin's three races are part of a nine-race schedule that he'll share with his Winston Cup Roush Racing teammates Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth. Team owner Jack Roush hasn't determined Martin's other two races.
"I've been wanting to get back out in the Busch car for a while," Martin said. "I'm excited about it, but I know we've got a lot of work in front of us. I've had some really great success in the Busch Series, and it has meant an awful lot to my career."
The Daytona Beach, Fla., resident has never won a Busch Series race at the "World Center of Racing," which is something he's hoping to change.
“I never did manage to get a Busch Series win at Daytona, so we're going to be focused on that pretty hard," Martin said. "The good thing is we have time to get ready. Instead of trying to put this thing together in January, we know about it now."
Other driver's from NASCAR's premier series that are expected to join Martin in the Hershey's Kisses 300 include defending race champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. and 2003 Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip.
Mark Martin - Post Race Notes and Quotes
Checker Auto Parts 500 - November 2, 2003 - Phoenix International Raceway
MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus (Finished 10th) - "Ben had some great pit strategy and we had a good enough car to stay out like that. The car was awesome on that last long run. If it would have gone green all the way, we would have had a top-five easily because nobody was coming at all. I was real happy with that. Those were pretty old tires, especially the lefts, and it just didn't take back off after the cautions and they just kept picking me off one by one. It was a good enough car to stay where I was at as long as the green stayed out. We probably got some luck because we might have been short on fuel. We were about what we were. We finished 10th and that's about what we were today. We had a crack at a top five if things would have gone our way, but I'm not complaining. I'm real proud of our team and proud of our car. It was more competitive today than we have been."
Viagra® Racing Team Finishes 10th at Phoenix
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagra® Racing Team
Phoenix International Raceway/November 2, 2003
PHOENIX, AZ. (Nov. 2, 2003) –The No. 6 Viagra® Racing team battled back from adversity on Sunday using excellent work in the pits and sound pit strategy to post a 10th-place finish in the Checker Auto Parts 500.
“We finished 10th and that's about what we were today,” said Martin. “We had a crack at a top five if things would have gone our way, but I'm not complaining. I'm real proud of our team and proud of our car. It was more competitive today than we have been in a while.
“Ben had some great pit strategy and the team did a great job in the pits,” added Martin. “We were really going on that last long run. All of the cautions hurt us, but we still got a solid finish. The team really did a great job this weekend, from fixing the car on Friday to great work today.”
Martin made contact with the wall moments before the end of practice on Friday and the team had to work feverishly to repair extensive damage sustained to the right-side of the car. However the No. 6 team came through and Martin was able to post a 12th-place qualifying effort and despite the accident post some of the fastest times on the track in Saturday’s practice session.
The team announced on Sunday morning that the race would be the last for crew chief Ben Leslie. In a ‘swap’ move with the Wood Brothers, Leslie will become the crew chief for Ricky Rudd and the No. 21 car, while Pat Tryson, who has served as Rudd’s crew chief, will take Leslie’s place with the No. 6 team. Despite the distractions, Martin and the No. 6 team wasted no time going to work once the green flag dropped on Sunday.
Martin quickly broke into the field’s top 10 and was running in ninth place by lap 28. Martin had moved up to eighth place by lap 33 when the day’s first caution was issued. The team reeled off one of their best stops of the season, an excellent 13.85-second stop in which the team changed four tires and made air pressure adjustments. Several of the car’s in the field took only two tires and Martin returned in 12th place when the field went green.
The team reeled off stops of 14.74 and 14.70 seconds in its next two stops and Martin was running in 14th place when caution number five was issued on lap 208. The team made its move to the front on lap 213 taking right-side tires only under caution, in what would be the team’s last stop of the race. Martin returned to the field in fifth place when the race went green with just under 100 laps to go.
Martin quickly moved up to fourth and after another caution on lap 229, Martin found himself in third place when the race went green on lap 237. Battling cars on fresher tires, Martin dropped back to fourth place on lap 239, but was holding his own against the rest of the field. With the car better on long runs and struggling on restarts, the No. 6 team needed for the race to go green the rest of the way.
However, that would not prove to be the case, as the race would see four more cautions, the last coming on lap 299 with only 13 laps remaining and Martin running seventh. The car would again struggle on the restart, but Martin fought to the 10th-place finish. The finish was the team’s 10th top 10 of the season and its first since August.
“We had a good enough car to stay out like that,” said Martin. “The car was awesome on that last long run. If it would have gone green all the way, we would have had a top-five easily because nobody was coming at all, but those were pretty old tires, especially the lefts, and it just didn't take back off after the cautions and they just kept picking me off one by one. It was a good enough car to stay where I was at as long as the green stayed out.
“Still, it was a really great effort by this Viagra® Racing Team today.”
Roush, Wood Brothers Swap Crew Chiefs
November 2, 2003
Avondale, Ariz. — Roush Racing and Wood Brothers Racing announced today that they will switch crew chiefs on the No. 6 and No. 21 racing teams. Effective Monday morning Ben Leslie will become the crew chief of the No. 21 Motorcraft Racing Team with driver Ricky Rudd, while Pat Tryson will take over the crew chief duties for the No. 6 Viagra Racing Team with driver Mark Martin.
MARK MARTIN, DRIVER ROUSH RACING NO. 6 FORD TAURUS
"We are just mixing up the program a little bit. We are trying to get the No. 21 car to run a little better, while at the same time improving the performance of the No. 6 car. We've already been working together throughout the season so the relationship is there now and I'm excited about working with Pat. Pat's been a part of our program and he's familiar with Roush Racing and all of our processes. We think that he will be able to come in and help provide a fresh look, and bring some new and different ideas to the table. We are just going to mix things up and have a different look."
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