NASCAR's Mark Martin
2003 Season Articles - April

No.6 Viagraģ Racing Team Gets Martin Up Front
Despite Late Accident, No. 6 Team Enjoys Stellar Day in the Pits

Huntersville, NC (April 29, 2003) - Mark Martin had worked his way up the field, from as low as 35th position, and into fifth place when a last lap accident relegated the No. 6 Viagra Ford Taurus to a 17th-place finish in Sunday's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway. Despite the disappointing finish, the No. 6 pit crew turned in one of their best performances ever on Sunday, posting several key pits stops that helped move Martin from the back of the field and in contention for a top-five position.

"It was just an outstanding job by the guys in the pits," said driver Mark Martin. "They gave us really great pit stops and they really made it easier to move up the field, by continually giving me better track position on the stops. It was a truly awesome job by the team. I'm just sorry that our finish wasn't indicative of the type of effort we had on Sunday. It should have at least been a top-10 finish and it was a winning type effort that the guys gave."

The team posted four straight stops during the second half of Sunday's race that helped move Martin up to as high as fourth place. A 13.94 second stop on lap 87 moved Martin from 21st to 16th position, before the team reeled off a 14.87-second stop on lap 131 that put Martin inside the top-10 for the first time of the day, moving the Viagra‚ Ford Taurus from 11th to seventh position.

A caution on lap 154 gave the Viagra Team a chance to come into the pits, and again the team excelled with their stop, changing four tires and taking fuel in another stellar stop of 13.50 seconds, and gaining Martin four more positions to fifth place when the field went green.

Martin was still running in fifth when the team came into the pits on lap 203 for green-flag stop. In yet another excellent stop, the team took four tires and fuel in 14.05 seconds and returned to the field in fourth place (Martin's highest position on the day) once all the cars had cycled through.

"The highlight of the day was the team's job in the pits," said crew chief Ben Leslie. "The guys were really on their game and they helped us gain several positions on the track. I'm really proud of the job the guys did at Fontana and all year for that matter."

Martin looked destined to earn his fifth top-five finish of 2003 when Jimmy Johnson got into the wall coming to the white flag. Martin was unable to let up and collided with Johnson, who moved down in front of him on the track, sending Martin's car spinning through the infield. Martin would finish 17th as the first car one lap down.

A disappointing ending to a day that saw the No. 6 Ford start out virtually un-drivable, before Martin and the No. 6 team worked feverishly on the set up. The end result was one of the fastest cars on the track, but a finish not indicative of the team's success; a story all to familiar for the No. 6 team this season. Still Martin says the team will keep fighting and never give up.

"It's been that kind of year," said Martin. "We've had great cars and great performance and just awful luck. That summarizes Sunday as well. What happened at Fontana is kind of reflective of what has been happening to us all season. We go out, we work hard, we get the car better and better and we look like we might have a pretty good run and then something happens.

"Still, we just have to keep fighting and moving forward and I believe that good things will happen for this team."

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; two in the Busch Series with Stanton Barrett and Burton; 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.

Mark Martin California Race Recap
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagraģ Racing Team
California Speedway/April 27, 2003

Fontana, Ca.- (April 27, 2003) Ė After battling all day, Mark Martin and the No. 6 Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Race team were fighting for their fourth top-five finish of the season, when Martin got tangled up with Jimmy Johnson on the raceís final lap. Martin was running in sixth position and closing fast on fifth, when Johnson got into the wall and came down on Martin with just one lap remaining in the race. The accident sent Martin and his No. 6 Viagra Ford Taurus spinning into the infield grass just in front of the front stretch and relegated the No. 6 team to a 17th place finish, after running inside the fieldís top 10 for the last 120 laps of the race.

ďThatís tough, really tough,Ē said Martin. ďWe just canít seem to buy a break this year. We had a great car, just like we have for most of the season, but once again we just didnít have any luck when we needed it.Ē

ďThe team did a great job in the pits today and they gave me a pretty fast car. We ran inside the top 10 for most of the day and it looked like we were going to have a good finish before we got in that accident. Itís disappointing, but there is nothing you can do about it now.Ē

The highlight of the day was the work of the Viagra Racing Team in the pits. The team logged four straight impressive pit stops late in the race that helped move Martin as far up the field as fifth place.

Martin struggled with the carís handling early on in the race, and with the car handling very ďlooseĒ Martin fell back to 35th position by lap 15. Still, Martin worked his way back up the field, and was running in 25th place when the dayís third caution was called on lap 39. The team used the caution to come into the pits and work on the fender and add a spring rubber to help aid the carís handling. When Martin returned to the field, he was running in 34th place.

The adjustments paid off and Martin had worked his way all the way back up into 21st position when the field began to start green flag pitting on lap 87. The team came in for four tires and fuel and an excellent stop of 13.94 seconds, which moved the No. 6 Ford into 16th place once the field had cycled through its stops.

With the car handling well, Martin maneuvered through the field and was running in 11th place when the dayís fourth caution was issued on lap 130. The No. 6 team went to work again, taking four tires and fuel, while making an air pressure adjustment in 14.87 seconds. The quick work sent Martin back inside the top-10 for the first time of the day in seventh position when the field went green on lap 134. Martin would not run outside of the top-10 for the remainder of the day until the accident on the raceís final lap.

Martin was running in ninth place when caution no. five was called on lap 154. The team used the caution to come into the pits to re-adjust the air pressure and take four more tires and fuel. Another impressive stop of 13.50 seconds gained Martin four more positions to fifth place when the field went green.

Martin was still running in fifth when the team came into the pits on lap 203 for another green-flag stop. In yet another excellent stop, the team took four tires and fuel in 14.05 seconds and returned to the field in fourth place once all the cars had cycled through.

Two more cautions would occur by lap 218 and each time Martin had to battle with lapped traffic on the double file restart, dropping him to seventh place by lap 240. Martin moved up to sixth a few laps later and was battling for fifth, when he was caught up in Johnsonís wreck; forcing him to settle for the 17th place finish.

ďObviously we werenít happy with the ending,Ē said crew chief Ben Leslie. ďThe team did a really great job in the pits and Mark was really good on the track. The guys had several key stops that really helped us move up the track. Despite what happened on the last lap, it was a great effort by the Viagra Racing Team.Ē

Despite the late-race incident, Martin still moved forward one place to 14th in the Winston Cup Point standings. He is currently 67 points outside of 10th place. The team returns to action next week at Richmond for the teamís first night race of the season.

Martin Goes Back To School At Infineon
Oakland Tribune Online
April 26, 2003

Through more than 15 seasons, Mark Martin has gained a reputation of being the Phil Mickelson of NASCAR.

Four times has Martin finished second in the championship standings but never has won, including last year when he trailed Tony Stewart by 38 points. He also was second to Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 1990 (only 26 points) and 1994 and to Jeff Gordon in 1998.

But the racing quest goes on, and that appears to be the main thing with Martin, judging by his remarks during at a press conference when the driver from Batesville, Ark., was at Sears Point's Infineon Raceway this week for two days of tests.

Although Martin has been considered one of the best road-course drivers in NASCAR, he lost more 50 points to Stewart in the two road-course events last year, more than the title difference. So maybe it was time to go back to school. Therefore, he used one of his five track tests at Sears Point this year. "We were not pleased with our performance out here the past two years, and the track has changed some," Martin said. "We had about a 6- to 8-year-old car. So we built a new car, and we didn't want to bring it out here untested."

As a result, Martin was one of six NASCAR drivers who tested this week at Infineon before going to Fontana for Sunday's Auto Club 500. "I felt like if we came out here, it would bring us up to speed at Watkins Glen as well," Martin added. With the cool weather during the tests (although the rains stayed away), Martin knows conditions will be a lot different when NASCAR comes to the track for the June 25 Dodge/Save Mart 350. "We're not looking for THE setup," Martin said. "We're working with tools. We're changing things and finding directions and finding how things affect the car on this particular track. "So when we come back we'll know a lot of things that we don't want to try, and we'll eliminate 80 percent of the things that we're going to try."

Martin is mired in 15th place, but few expect him to stay there, and Martin himself remains upbeat. "We have had some bad luck this year, but we have really had some fast race cars," Martin said. "I'm really pleased with the performance of my team. I couldn't have missed the two wrecks and the two blown engines."

Those four bad finishes are the big difference between him and his Ford teammate with owner Jack Roush, Matt Kenseth, who is in first place. Kenseth tested at Infineon as well. Martin also is comfortable enough in his career that he feels no need to champion his sport's cause.

For instance, Martin, who is known for his rigorous workouts, said it didn't matter to him whether or not race drivers are considered athletes. "It's the same race, whether they consider us athletes or not," Martin said.

2003 Mark Martin California Speedway Track Notes
Viagra Racing Team looks for golden finish in Golden State
Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
Auto Club 500 California Speedway
April 27, 2003

FONTANA, Calif. (April 23, 2003) - After a refreshing week off from the track, the Viagra Racing Team travels to the "Golden State" for the AUTO CLUB 500 at California Speedway, where Mark Martin ran to a fifth-place finish a year ago and won in 1998.

Martin has posted three top-10 finishes, including a pair of top-fives in six races at Fontana. The No. 6 team will look to get on track this week with a strong run.

DRIVER: Mark Martin
OWNER: Jack Roush
CREW CHIEF: Ben Leslie

Track: California Speedway (d-shaped oval, 2 miles, 14 degrees banking in turns)

Race distance: 500 miles, 250 laps


Martin is currently in 15th place in the Winston Cup Point standings - just 85 points outside of 10th. Martin is currently 360 points behind point's leader Matt Kenseth. Only 155 points separates Martin and fifth place.


The Viagra Racing Team will take JR-102 to Fontana this week. JR-102 is a new car making its first run.


Martin has posted three top-10 finishes and three DNF's at California Speedway. Ironically Martin ran out of gas and posted a DNF there in 1997, but still went on to finish 10th in the race.


  • Mark Martin has posted three top-10 finishes two top-fives and one win at California Speedway.
  • Martin leads all active drivers that have completed in all six races with a 9.83 average start at California.
  • Martin has led in five of the six races at California.
  • Martin's 194 laps led at California are the second most by any driver.
  • Martin finished 10th at the inaugural California race, despite running out of gas late and posting a DNF. Martin rebounded the following year by winning there.


RACE #10, APRIL 28 - California Speedway
NAPA Auto Parts 500 - Started 26th, Finished 5th

Martin started the day in the 13th row after qualifying 26th on Friday. It seemed a stroke of bad luck would cost the No. 6 team early. Martin - who had worked his way through the field and was running in 14th place - was forced to come into the pits for a green flag stop on lap 99 after a wheel had begun to get loose. After taking four tires and making a wedge adjustment, Martin reentered the field a lap down and in 31st position. Fortunately for the Viagraģ racing team, caution would not come out for several laps, and when the other cars were forced to pit a few laps later, Martin gained his lap back and was running in 12th place by lap 119. After working his way up to fifth place late in the race, Martin fought off a vigorous charge from Dale Jarrett during the final six laps of the race to hang onto the spot. The finish - Martin's 191st career top-five moved Martin up to sixth place in the point standings.

Jimmie Johnson took the lead with 14 laps to go in the NAPA Auto Parts 500 and held off Ricky Rudd and Kurt Busch for his first Winston Cup victory.


Mark Martin On Racing At California Speedway:

"I really like to race at Fontana. It's my kind of track, a lot like Michigan and Charlotte. It is a very wide track and there is plenty of room to pass so it is fun for a driver. The fans are great out in California and they really look forward to Winston Cup racing coming to town. Hopefully we can have a good run there this weekend. The team has worked really hard this year and I'm ex tremely proud of the effort.

The results may not show it completely, but we've had some pretty fast race cars this year."

No. 6 Crew Chief Ben Leslie On Racing At California Speedway:

"We are looking forward to California. We'll spend the first part of the week testing in Sonoma before we go to Fontana, so we'll get a good fill of California this week. We are taking a new car to Fontana and we are hoping for good results. We've had some really fast cars this year, but we haven't really received the payoff yet. Hopefully this will be the week that it all comes together for the Viagra‚ Racing Team."

Martin Still Looking Ahead Despite Rocky Start
By Lee Montgomery, Turner Sports Interactive
April 23, 2003

Mark Martin has just about seen it all during his long driving career. To say he's at the twilight of that career wouldn't be a stretch.

Martin is 44 years old and has been driving NASCAR Winston Cup cars since 1981, including the last 15 with car owner Jack Roush. His career has been stellar, as he's won 33 races, 41 poles and finished second in the points standings four times. In the modern era, no one has more second-place finishes.

In this age of technology and engineering, the veteran Martin has been able to keep up with the younger crowd. Heck, he's outrun them, too. Last year's runner-up finish to Tony Stewart was a testament to Martin's tenacity and commitment to his career.

His driving days are far from over.

"I've started over twice in the last six years," Martin said. "Both times, out of the box, were fantastic. But I don't expect that to happen every time. I'm not going to stand around with tears in my eyes wishing I could do this stuff.

"I have done this stuff. I love winning races. It's been really good to me, and I plan to continue to do it. I have some unfinished business, I have a terrific race team, and I've got more years of my time than a lot of the guys in the garage. It's not time to be worrying about 2006 yet."

No, Martin's focus isn't on the future, isn't on sponsorships, isn't on car owners. It's on here and now and what it takes to win. Martin has been with Jack Roush since 1988, and there's no reason to change that.

"I have a real comfortable relationship with Jack," Martin said. "As long as I want to race, Jack will break his back to make that happen, whatever it might be. And he's made the same kind of commitment to help me with (son) Matt. Jack and I are partners in life, as well as an in racing. We're real comfortable with where we're at right now, with the race team, with Pfizer and Viagra. We're just working on taking care of that unfinished business."

Martin didn't say what his unfinished business is, but he hasn't won a Winston Cup championship yet. Nor has he won the Daytona 500.

And he hasn't won in 2003, either. Coming off the near-championship run of last season, Martin stands 15th in the points standings. That's obviously now where he wants to be.

"We've been more competitive on the racetrack so far this year than we were last year," Martin said. "Golly, in 50 percent of the races, we've been wrecked or blown up. I couldn't help the wrecks, and I couldn't help the parts breaking. And neither could my guys. Those are things that for the most part we can't control, and we have to roll with the flow.

"If nothing, nothing, went wrong the whole rest of the year, we'd probably win the championship by 500 points. But we're not done having trouble. We would be very happy if the huge majority of it is behind us."

But that's not realistic either, Martin said.

"I believe that, for me, I had an average year on luck last year," Martin said. "Average. Or probably better than average for me and average for everyone else. I think I'm paying for that this year so far. We'll just see how things play out."

Martin's team took advantage of last weekend's time off to catch up on cars and to prepare for some upcoming test sessions. Martin tested at the Infineon Raceway road course this week and will test at Lowe's Motor Speedway after he gets back from racing at California Speedway.

"It's very important to all of us, but especially to the guys who work on these cars," Martin said of the time off. "We're getting in position to test two weeks in a row. ... It's kind of hard to do that if we were racing (last) weekend as well. It puts us in a position to just do more. Nobody gets a chance to lay down and rest. We just do more."

That's the way Winston Cup racing is. You hardly have the time to look back, and if you do, you might get passed.

That's the way Martin has approached his career. Always look forward. The most important race is the next one. That means the most important race is this weekend's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway.

Martin won there in 1998 and has two other top-10 finishes on the 2-mile track. But he also has three DNFs, including the inaugural race there in 1997 when he ran out of gas but still ended up 10th.

That's a little bit like his 2003 season. He runs well, but something happens to keep him from finishing better.

No worries. There's always next week.

"We've got a great race team, we've done really well," Martin said. "We ran so good at several races this year, better than we did last year. If we can keep doing that, everything will be all right."

Martin Fastest In First Day Of Infineon Testing
From Track Press Release
April 23, 2003

SONOMA, Calif. -- Mark Martin posted the top time Tuesday during the first day of a NASCAR Winston Cup test session at Infineon Raceway.

Martin, one of six Winston Cup drivers testing the 10-turn, 2-mile road course in preparation for the Dodge/Save Mart 350 (June 19-22), toured the circuit in 1 minute, 17.50 seconds. He was followed by road-course specialist Ron Fellows (1:17.86) and Matt Kenseth (1:17.95). Tony Stewart owns the track qualifying record of 1:16.640 set in 2002.

Martin has one victory and 12 top-10 finishes in 14 starts at Infineon Raceway. The two-day session will conclude on Wednesday.

"We brought two cars out here and we're shaking them both down. We're trying to decide which one we'll bring back with us in June," said Kenseth, the current Winston Cup points leader. "For me, I just need to get in as many laps as I can."

Other testers included rookies Jamie McMurray (1:18.30), Casey Mears (1:18.60) and Jack Sprague (1:19.05).

"I'm just trying to learn the racetrack," said McMurray. "I've never been here before and road courses are a pretty different deal, but we're doing the best we can."

Martin Excited About The Winston
April 16, 2003

Concord, N.C. ó Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus participated in a press conference today at Loweís Motor Speedway to discuss next monthís running of The Winston, an event in which the winner will receive $1 million


ďI just want to thank Winston first and foremost for the most incredible event you could ever dream of. I think the format has evolved as weíve gone along to the most exciting format you could possibly dream up. Iím sure there will be evolution in the future, but itís really, really exciting. I want to thank Humpy Wheeler also. Heís done so much for motorsports and for helping bring the thrill and the excitement and to build the sport and build this speedway up. I was here in 1981 and 1982 and itís just unbelievable where this sport has come and to have the opportunity to race for $50,000 a lap, man, I remember when $5,000 to win just spun me out. Itís pretty incredible. Itís really exciting. Itís an exciting race. Itís something that means an awful lot to all of the competitors, but I think especially for any of the competitors that have had the opportunity to win this thing. Itís something that Iíll never forget and itís been such an honor to be a part of, and I think the fans feel the same way. Their support for this event is really spectacular. Man, I just wish it was tonight.Ē


ďI think this race pays a million dollars to win - $50,000 a lap for the last segment - because thereís a good chance we will wreck [laughter]. It all works together. I wouldnít bring my very best, number one car to The Winston. I did that two years in a row and tore Ďem up, but we do the same thing at Daytona for the Bud Shootout. I think itís a fantastic event. Iím real excited about it, and I think thereís a good chance youíll see some action.Ē


ďAt the end of the day we all do this every week and we all make decisions every week, every race, all through the races, with risk and reward. We all race hard. On one hand we donít go into it expecting to wreck each other or to be even caught up in an accident. Itís very, very exciting and itís some more likely to happen in a 20-lap segment, with that kind of money on the line, it is a little bit more likely that might happen than if you had 600 miles to get it done in. So thatís what brings the excitement and thatís what sells the tickets, but, at the end of the day, Iím pretty comfortable that weíll be able to accomplish what we need to accomplish without having a lot of trouble on the race track. Itís just a little bit more likely than it would be if you had 600 miles to do it in.Ē


ďI think this is the greatest race track that we race on for putting on a show.Ē


ďIím not the right guy to ask that question. You know me, I donít do those deals. I mean, Iíve won The Winston and I canít even remember doing it. It was only five years ago, but thatís me. Iím more interested in the next race, whatever the next race is. When the next race is the Daytona 500, thatís the most important one to me. The next race is California, so thatís the one Iím focused on and I just take Ďem one at a time.Ē


"Itís gonna be exciting. I wish we were doing it tonight. I canít wait. Iím just amazed at what Winston has been able to do with this race and how they have the format laid out. Itís pretty exciting. It doesnít necessarily favor the fastest car, itís about putting on a great show with the double-file restarts, the inverting, the short segments and all the things that come into play. Itís like putting names in a hat and throwing them up in the air to see who comes out on top. It should be a really exciting race.Ē


ďThereís a lot of adrenaline and itís really exciting. For me, I donít feel that much different than any other particular race when we know how short itís gonna be. I mean, if you have a pit stop with 20 to go in the 600, thereís an awful lot of adrenaline that goes on in that race as well. The thing about The Winston format is with the inversion going on, with the double-file restarts, with the possibility of having a caution in there and having the double-file again, that really throws a lot of new things into the picture. That double-file restart can be a pain, or it can really make the difference depending on if youíre on the inside or the outside or how the lane moves. I think that restart thing is a very big factor in this race, having a double-file restart, because you can be running second and have a caution and have to restart on the outside and then your chances arenít as good as they were prior to the caution coming out. You could wind up in fourth or fifth before you can get yourself in line where you want to be and get set up. Sometimes the third-place car might be in a better position in that, so you never know about this race. Unpredictability is one of the things thatís made it what it is and is driving the excitement and ticket sales.Ē


ďIt depends on where youíre viewing from. From a competitors standpoint, Iíve never been a fan of double-file restarts and inverting and all those kinds of things in an era when I had one of the best cars on the race track. That doesnít drive excitement and ticket sales. On the other hand, if youíre viewing it from the other standpoint, which is all the thrills and excitement and building this thing up to where it is today and taking a dominant car and putting it in a position where itís more difficult and less predictable, itís a terrific show going in the direction that itís gone. I guess I would view it two different ways. Thatís how I look at it. The more years I participate, the more I am grateful for the opportunity to race for all that money and to be a part of a sport this big and that has been as good to me as it has. Sometimes Iíve smashed my stuff up out there and last year we broke an engine running real well with a great opportunity, but, on the other hand, I did have the opportunity to win it once and Iíd like to do it again. The stock has gone up in this race quite a bit since í98. Iíve got that big picture of that check up on the wall. It was huge at the time, but itís only about a fourth of what it would be this time.Ē

Crushable Foam Walls Help Keeping Tracks Safer
By Scott Hawkins

(Columbia) April 15, 2003 - When NASCAR drivers like Mark Martin hit the track, their biggest danger is hitting the wall. Research engineer Kevin Poormon says, "They are very rigid, and they don't give any, so all the forces of the impact are put directly into the vehicle." That means the driver experiences huge forces during a crash.

In a University of Dayton lab Poormon tests materials that could make race track walls softer, "Crushable foam basically takes and absorbs the impact by crushing, and you're not putting that into the driver."

In Nebraska civil engineer Dr. Dean Sicking is working with NASCAR and the Indy Racing League to develop a wall that uses crushable foam attached to steel tubes, "The foam absorbs the energy of the impact and allows the barrier surface, the steel surface, to push backward in a controlled manner."

Dr. Sicking says, "The barrier system significantly reduced the G levels that the drivers were exposed to during the crashes." G levels measure how strong the force of gravity is acting on the driver during the crash.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway installed the safety wall this year. NASCAR driver Mark Martin liked what he saw, "It worked out well here at Indy, and I'm glad they have it."

NASCAR driver Terry Labonte concurs, "It's nice to see somebody step up and really do something."

Nearly all wrecks involving serious injuries or fatalities occur when the driver hits the outside wall at high speed coming out of a turn. Experts say the crushable foam technology could change that, "I believe that this wall will save many lives over the next ten or 20 years."

It costs about $1 million to retrofit a track the size of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the technology. Dr. Sicking expects many of the large NASCAR tracks to install the wall next year.

Mark Martin Martinsville Race Recap
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagraģ Racing Team
Martinsville Speedway/April 13, 2003
Roush Racing

MARTINSVILLE, VA (April 13, 2003) - Mark Martin brought home the #6 Viagra (sildenafil citrate) Ford Taurus in 17th position at Martinsville Speedway in a hard fought duel to the finish at the series' smallest racetrack. Under the direction of crew chief Ben Leslie, the team flourished on pit road with several pit stops under 15 seconds, which protected the decent finish.

Mark Martin started the race from the 24th position, but quickly moved up as the race evolved into an unusually long green flag run. By the first caution flag on lap 79, Martin had jumped to 16th place. Under caution and on pit road, the team took two rounds of wedge out to assist the handling and sent Martin back onto the track in 15th place. Martin stayed there solidly as the laps ticked off until the second caution flag period on lap 121. After receiving service, Martin radioed the crew with an encouraging message. "We seem to be pretty competitive-especially if we can keep the rear tires from falling off on these long runs." Crew chief Ben Leslie radioed back, "Yeah, the top-five cars out here are pretty stout, but we're looking good, too."

Martin continued his forward march all the way up to 12th place by lap 195 of the 500 lap event. By then, another long green flag run was taking its toll on the field and the leaders began to appear in the mirror of the #6 Viagra Ford. Martin put up an extremely valiant fight for the ten laps of 233-242. Again and again, he fought hard along the outside of then leader Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Martin's spotter, Chris Morris, radioed encouragement to his driver: "Way to fight!" he stated over and over again. It was on lap 233 that new leader Jeff Gordon finally did put the #6 Viagra Ford one lap down to the field.

Mark Martin was the first car one lap down in 16th place for the next two subsequent restarts following caution periods, but he couldn't catch a break that would give him his lap back. Martin began to fade a little as the race reached its 300th circuit. Martin was running in 18th place, but a pit stop under caution on lap 349 gained the team several spots back. "Great job, we picked up a few big spots there, boys," radioed Martin to his crew. With teammate Matt Kenseth on the point of the restart trying to get his lap back, Martin bided his time as well, hoping for a break that would put them both back at the tail end of the lead lap. Instead, the two were treated to another unusual long green flag run.

Mark Martin hung around 15th place for the remainder of the race until a minor altercation occurred less than ten laps from the finish. With Martin and teammates Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch running nose to tail on worn tires, they all ran out of room and collided coming off of turn four. All were able to keep going, with Martin coming home 17th in the final finishing order.

Afterwards, he spoke of his grueling day at the .523-mile track:

"We had a car that ran good for 50 laps on tires and we worked our way up almost to the top 10 several times on short runs, but we got two long ones and got a lap down both times. We got one of them back, but the last one we couldn't get back. We had potential to finish a lot better than that, but things just didn't quite fall our way."

Mark Martin is now listed in 15th place in the 2003 Winston Cup point standings with 970 points. He is 360 back from leader and teammate Matt Kenseth. The series takes next weekend off for the Easter break, then returns to action at California Speedway in two weeks.

2003 Mark Martin Martinsville Track Notes
Viagra Racing Team Eyes Strong Run At Martinsville
Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
Virginia 500 Martinsville Speedway

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 9, 2003) - Martin got caught in a mulit-car accident that involved 27 cars on the fourth lap at Talladega last Sunday. Despite the fact that the car sustained severe damage to the right side, the team was able to get the car back out on the track where, despite being 34 laps down, Martin ran times as fast as the leaders in route to a 26th-place finish.

DRIVER: Mark Martin
OWNER: Jack Roush
CREW CHIEF: Ben Leslie

Track Martinsville Speedway (oval, 0.526 miles, 12 degrees banking in turns)

Distance 263 miles, 500 laps


Martin is currently in 14th place in the Winston Cup Point standings - just 37 points outside of 10th. Martin is currently 375 points behind point's leader Matt Kenseth. Only 188 points separates Martin and third place.


The Viagra Racing Team will take JR-99 to Martinsville this week. JR-99 is a new car making its first run.


Martin scored his first career Winston Cup top-five finish at Martinsville back in 1981. Since then he has won twice there, while rolling to 20 top-10 finishes, three poles and 10 top-five finishes in 34 career starts at Martinsville. He has finished in the top 10 in four of his last five starts there and five of the last seven.


RACE #8, APRIL 14 - Martinsville Speedway
Virginia 500 - Started 17th, Finished 8th

Mark qualified 17th for Sunday's race and fell back to as low as 23rd early in the race before patiently finding his marks and working his way up the field. The team struggled with the car being loose and Martin didn't break into the top 10 until lap 325, but he was able to hang on to the top-10 finish.


Bobby Labonte took the lead with seven laps to go and won the Virginia 500 under caution for his 19th career victory. Kenseth finished second after a late-race battle with Dale Jarrett.


  • Mark Martin posted three straight poles at Martinsville beginning in the fall of 1990 and sweeping 1991.
  • Mark Martin has scored four top-10 finishes, including one victory, in his last six races at Martinsville.
  • Martin's first ever Winston Cup top-five finish came at Martinsville on Sept. 27, 1981 in the Old Dominion 500.
  • Martin has won twice at Martinsville, during the spring of 1992 and the spring of 2000.
  • Martin has finished in the top-10 in five of the last seven races at Martinsville and seven of the last 11.



"Martinsville is a tough track to race at. It' s really just too small of a track for 43 cars to race on. I think they used to only run 34 there and it was too small then as well, but with 43 out there it makes it real difficult. The track is little, narrow and rough at times. Everyone knows that it's probably not my favorite place to race, but it is challenging. There isn't a lot of room there to change your line and accommodate your car. One of the keys is that you want to get off to a good start. You want to qualify well and stay up front. It's like Bristol in the sense that it is very easy to go a lap down if you get caught in the back of the pack."


"Martinsville is one of the most challenging tracks on the circuit. I know that Mark is not a real big fan of racing there. You go there knowing that you need to stay up front and not get a lap down early on. You know that your car is going to come back pretty beat up and you hope that you will be able to come out on the right end of it all. Because the track is not necessarily large enough to accommodate 43 cars there tends to be a lot of pushing and shoving and fighting for position. It presents unique challenges for the crew and it's a very challenging track to go and race on. We are taking a new car this week and hopefully we'll be able to get up front and stay there until the end."

Mark Martin Talladega Race Recap
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagraģ Racing Team
Talladega SuperSpeedway/April 6, 2003
Roush Racing

Talladega, Ala. (April 6, 2003) - Mark Martin and the Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Racing Team were dealt another dose of bad luck during Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega, but the team was able to battle back from adversity to post a 26th-place finish in the race. Martin, who started tenth in the race, was running in ninth place when Ryan Newman cut a tire on lap three. Newman forced Martin into the wall and the incident started a multi-car pile-up that would see a total of 27 cars damaged in the wreck.

"I tell you what, this Viagraģ Racing Team just hasn't been lucky this year," said Martin. "We've been fast every week, but we just haven't had a bit of luck. The car was pretty good today, even after the damage. It's just a shame that we had to get caught up in that accident."

Seventeen cars, including Martin's, were forced to go back to the garage for repairs. The No. 6 Viagra Ford Taurus sustained severe damage to the right side.

"It looked like the No. 12 just cut a tire or something and that pretty much started the whole thing," said Martin. "It's just one of those things that happens. It's nobody's fault and it's not really one of those "Talladega" things. It's just what happens sometimes in racing."

The team worked feverishly to repair the damage. With so many other cars behind the wall, returning to the track as soon as possible was critical. Martin returned to the track on lap 37; 34 laps down and in 30th position.

Despite the fact that Martin's car had sustained severe damage, he was still able to run times as fast as the leaders for much of the race. Martin would exercise patience and speed to gain four critical positions during the remainder of the race.

"The team did a great job getting the car back out on the track," said Martin. "Anytime you have that many people in the garage, it's critical that you get back out as soon as you can, but you also have to do a good job and make sure that you have fixed all the critical parts.

"The team did a great job of that today, because even after the damage, we were able to run with just about everybody around us."

"I don't know what it is, but we just haven't had any luck this year," said crew chief Ben Leslie. "It seemed like last year we had a little bit of luck, but this year we just can't seem to get a break."

"We've had pretty good cars this year - probably better than last year - but we just haven't caught the breaks. We'll just have to come back next week and do all we can to have a good run at Martinsville."

Martin is currently 14th in the Winston Cup Point standings, 37 points out of tenth and 375 points behind first place. The team will return to action next Sunday at Martinsville.

Kurt Busch Wins Round 2 Of True Value IROC 27 At Talladega
IROC - News

TALLADEGA, April 5 - Kurt Busch, representing the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, captured his first career True Value International Race of Champions (IROC) victory Saturday in round two, of the four part all-star series, at Talladega Superspeedway.

Busch, averaging 139.367 mph, won by a mere .098 seconds over NASCAR Truck Series Champion, Mike Bliss.

Finishing third was NASCAR Busch Series Champion, Greg Biffle, fourth was IRL IndyCar Series Champion, Sam Hornish, Jr. and fifth went to IROC race one winner, Mark Martin.

NASCAR Winston Cup driver Ryan Newman started on the pole and held the lead for the first three laps when Bliss took over the point for a lap. Busch led for the next two laps and was passed by NASCAR teammate Mark Martin, who held the lead for two laps. Busch reclaimed the lead on lap nine and was leading at the stripe to the end of the 38-lap, 101.08-mile event.

The only incident occurred on lap 35 when IndyCar Series Champion, Sam Hornish Jr. made contact with World of Outlaws Champion, Steve Kinser in the third turn. Kinser spun into the infield and regained control of the car without making any contact. Ryan Newman slowed to avoid Kinser and was tagged in the rear by IndyCar Series driver Felipe Giaffone, who suffered significant damage to the front of his IROC car. Newman and Giaffone were hastily serviced by the True Value IROC crew and rejoined the field before the restart.

There were five lead changes among four drivers. Busch was awarded five bonus points for leading the most laps followed by Newman, garnering three bonus points for leading the second most laps led. Two bonus points went to Martin for leading the third most laps.

Bliss and Biffle tried to challenge Busch as they approached the finish line but Busch held his line. "This is awesome," said Busch. "It's something that I'll cherish forever, trying to race with the best of the best. We were having so much fun out here. It's a pleasure. To all those fans that hung out and watched us race at Talladega, it was an exciting show."

The True Value IROC Series will resume with race three at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL on Saturday, July 12 and will conclude at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 2.

Kurt Busch Holds Off Mark Martin And The Rest Of The Field For First IROC Victory
Roush's Greg Biffle Finishes Third, While Mark Martin Ends Up Fifth
Roush Racing

Talladega, Ala. - Roush Racing's Kurt Busch took over the lead from Roush teammate Mark Martin on lap nine and never looked back in Saturday's second International Race of Champions Series Race of 2003 held at Talladega Superspeedway. Busch, driving the Evans Orange car, was able to hold off several advances made my Martin as the two ran first and second for the next 26 laps until a late caution was called on lap 35.

IROC rules call for a double file restart after a caution. Once the field restarted Martin was unable to stay with Busch who was running the much faster low line, and he was shuffled back in the field. The restart did, however, allow Roush's Greg Biffle to make a move up the field, and he was able to post a third place finish on the day.

Busch would hold off the field for his first ever career IROC series victory while Martin would have to settle for a fifth-place finish, but only after having to make an impressive save on the race's final lap after getting hit by car of Sam Hornish. Martin was forced down low on the apron, almost losing control of the car, before regaining control and quickly jumping back in line for the fifth-place finish.

"This is awesome," said Busch. "It's something that I'll cherish forever, trying to race with the best of the best. We were having so much fun out here. It's a pleasure. To all those fans that hung out and watched us race at Talladega, it was an exciting show."

Busch led 32 of the races 38 laps after taking the lead for good on lap nine. Martin led laps seven and eight before surrendering the lead for good to Busch on lap nine.

After two of four races Busch leads the standings with 43 overall points. Martin is second with 38 points and Biffle is third with 24 points. After two races Roush has made a clean sweep of the IROC Series, with Martin winning in Daytona and Busch taking the checkered flag in Talladega. Busch finished second to Martin in Daytona, while Biffle finished fifth.

After Early Twists, Martin Steers Steep Road To Wisdom
By Jim Benton
Rocky Mountain News
April 1, 2003

Mark Martin respects all the "young guns" on the Winston Cup circuit. He went through too many struggles not to appreciate how quickly some of the twenty-something drivers managed to leave their marks.

Martin once was a boastful, overconfident "young gun," but before he attained success, he drove along a gloomy, often demoralizing road.

The transition for young drivers to the Winston Cup circuit was more gradual in the early 1980s than it is today. It was even more so for Martin, who had to wrestle with alcohol, depression and resentment before finally becoming a successful NASCAR driver.

Martin's tale is documented in Fox Sports Net's latest Beyond the Glory, which profiles how he won three American Speed Association championships before he collected two poles and three Top 10 finishes in five races at the conclusion of the 1981 Winston Cup season.

"I was racing against Richard Petty, Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, and they didn't look like they were going to be that hard to beat," Martin said. "I said, 'This thing looks like it's going to be just the same as everything else I've ever done.' I didn't have any idea what I was getting into."

A cocky 22-year-old, Martin predicted he would win the Daytona 500 before he was 25, but his first full Winston Cup season in 1982 was disappointing.

"The team ran out of everything: manpower, steam, money and confidence," he said. "In my mind I failed miserably. At the end of the year I was in debt and a broken man."

He endured another devastating campaign in 1983 and was without a job by the end of the year. He watched the 1984 Daytona 500 from the stands instead of from behind a steering wheel.

Martin said he remembers "standing outside the garage area watching the drivers walk back and forth to those cars thinking, 'I can beat those guys. I don't believe they have jobs and I don't.' I had a lot of resentment towards NASCAR racing because I couldn't believe they stood there and watched me fail."

He started drinking heavily, breaching his vow that he would not become an alcoholic like his father, Julian.

"I drank pretty regular," Martin admitted. "It was the darkest, ugliest time of my life."

He began to turn around his life when he returned to the ASA circuit in 1985 and, two years later, won three Busch races. Then, in 1988, he joined owner Jack Roush's Winston Cup team. Like his father, Martin eventually stopped drinking. He started weight training and became Winston Cup's most consistent driver in the 1990s.

Martin, 44, has recorded 33 Winston Cup wins and finished as runner-up for the championship four times. He currently ranks 13th in the points standings and has won $37,294,595 in his career.

"I've been more successful than I deserve," Martin said. "I've had some of the greatest success a person should ever get to experience. Sure, I'd like to win the Cup (championship), but I'm not going to lose any sleep over it, because I've done all that I can do."

The Beyond the Glory documentary on Martin will be aired again by FSN at noon Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday.


It's hard for sponsors and consumers to ignore Michael Waltrip's personality.

That's why the commercials he does for NAPA, Aaron's, Coke and Domino's are so popular.

Waltrip, however, wants to clear up something about the Domino's spot. In that commercial, he orders pizza and has a pit crew race in to set the table and fill the glasses with Coke. At the end, Waltrip alerts the crew that they forgot something and, suddenly, a little boy pops up at the end of the table.

"The Domino's shot was something that involved my family," Waltrip explained. "Just so everyone knows, the little boy that pops up at the end is not ours. We rented him. He was an actor. We borrowed him because we didn't have one the size that they needed. The other two girls (Caitlin and Margaret) are ours, and (wife) Buffy and I and obviously are in the commercial."


Embarrassed team owner Joe Gibbs promised to find out why NASCAR impounded Tony Stewart's primary Chevrolet last week after it failed a template inspection at Texas Motor Speedway. NASCAR took the car after it failed an "X measurement," which is a way of determining the placement of the car's deck lid in relation to the center line of the chassis. "This is our fault," Gibbs said. "We are trying to go back and see what happened. We kind of embarrassed ourselves here." ...NASCAR is considering adding ephedra to the list of substances for which the sanctioning body tests, but president Mike Helton disputed a report that the use of dietary supplements containing the stimulant in NASCAR was "an overwhelming issue."...Christian Fittipaldi drove for Kyle Petty in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500 on Sunday because Petty still was sore from cracked ribs he suffered in a March 23 accident at Bristol. "I was cleared to race, but I was too sore," Petty said. "I don't remember being knocked out at Bristol, but it knocked the breath out of me. By the time the rescue squad got to me, I was out of breath and I just couldn't talk to them. They said I was a little incoherent, and I probably was because I was sucking wind." ...Martin made the biggest jump in the points standings this week, moving up 10 spots, to 13th, after a fifth-place finish in Texas. Elliott Sadler and Dave Blaney were the big losers, each falling six places. Sadler is now 20th, Blaney 22nd ... Ken Schrader knows there will be large packs of cars drafting off each other at the restrictor plate race at Talladega on Sunday. "You don't think in terms of running 190 or 200 mph at times," Schrader said. "It's like sitting in the middle of a parking lot. This parking lot just happens to be going really, really fast."

Martin Looking For Record 12th Win In IROC Series This Weekend At Talladega

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (April 1, 2003) - Mark Martin enters this weekend not only looking to move inside the Winston Cup Top-10, but he will also be looking for his record 12th win in the International Race of Champions Series when the checkered flag drops on the race on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. central time.

Martin edged out Roush Racing teammate Kurt Busch for his 11th win of the series earlier this year at Daytona, tying him with the late Dale Earnhardt for the most wins ever in the IROC series. A win on Saturday could give Martin the record out right, while at the same time moving him closer to a record fifth championship in the series.

Martin won the IROC series in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1998. Martin also finished second in the series on three occasions ('95, '99 and 2000). In addition, Martin is the only driver to have won three straight IROC championships.

This year marks Martin's 10th invitation to the IROC series and the first year he has competed in the series since 2000. Roush Racing Teammates Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle join Martin in the IROC series.

Martin will most likely start near the rear of this Saturday's race, but says that in this race that may not be a disadvantage.

"I don't think starting position matters at all," said Martin. "In fact, it seems like starting in the back is a good thing for some reason. That sounds crazy, but with the way the cars are and the track is, if you start in the front you are probably going to most definitely get shuffled back. If you start in the back you will probably shuffle forward and then you have to figure out some way to stay there.

"The thing for sure is that there will be a lot of movement in the pack and throughout the race. A lot more movement than you saw at Daytona."

Martin also added that Talladega was the type of track that could benefit one of the drivers from another series, more than tracks like Chicago and Indy.

"It makes it easier for them, because it takes some of the elements that they have to deal with out," said Martin. "It just comes down to drafting only with those cars. You don't really have to sense and feel how hard to punch the cars or sense the tire slippage. Due to the types of cars that they race, some of them have less experience in those areas, so it is much easier for them to run Daytona and Talladega than it is the other tracks."

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; two in the Busch Series with Stanton Barrett and Burton; 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.

2003 Mark Martin Talladega Track Notes
Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
Aaron's 499/Talladega SuperSpeedway
April 6, 2003
Roush Racing

DRIVER: Mark Martin
OWNER: Jack Roush
CREW CHIEF: Ben Leslie

EVENT: Aaron's 499

TRACK: Talladega SuperSpeedway/Talladega, AL

TRACK SPECS: 2.66-miles/ 188 laps

202 WINNER: Dale Earnhadt Jr.

2002 EVENT: Started: 19th Finished: 37th

In the second restrictor-plate race of 2002, Martin started out slow off the truck, running the 30th fastest lap. The team qualified 19th on Friday, but by the final practice session on Saturday, the No. 6 posted the second fastest lap of the session. Martin led the race on three separate occasions and was moving through the field once again when he became the victim of a multi-car accident on lap 164. The accident claimed 24 cars. The No. 6 team worked feverishly on the car and was able to briefly return to the track, but the damage was too severe and Martin had to settle for a 37th place finish.


Martin rebounded from his wreck at Bristol with a solid fifth-place finish last week at Texas. The finish marked Martin's third top-five finish of 2003 and his fourth top-10 in only seven races.

Martin has finished inside the top eight on four occasions in 2003 and in every race in which he didn't suffer mechanical problems or get caught up in an accident. Martin will look to move back into the Winston Cup Top-10 in the point's standings with a solid run this weekend at Talladega, where he has won twice and posted 20 top-ten finishes.


The strong finish moved Martin up 10 places in the Winston Cup Points race, into 13th place - just 29 points outside of 10th. Martin is currently 317 points behind point's leader Matt Kenseth.


Martin has finished inside the field's top 10 in 20 of his 34 starts at Talladega (59%). Martin has won twice on the 2.66 mile-speedway and the veteran has posted 10 top-five finishes there as well. Last season, Martin was inducted into the Talladega Walk of Fame for his on-track accomplishments at the 'world's fastest superspeedway'.


Martin will make his second start this season in the IROC series at Talladega. Martin, who won the IROC race in February in Daytona, has won a record tying 11 IROC races and four championships in the series. Martin will be looking to break Dale Earnhardt's record with a 12 win in the series this Saturday.


The Viagraģ Racing Team will take JR-100 to Talladega this weekend. JR-100 was set to be the primary car for this year's Daytona 500, but was severely damaged late in the Twin-125's. The car still posted a 14th place finish, despite the accident. This will be the car's first run in an official NASCAR Winston Cup Race.


  • Martin's pace in the 1997 Winston 500 at Talladega set an all-time NASCAR Winston Cup record for the fastest race ever run as Martin won the caution-free race with an average speed of 188.354 mph. He covered the 500-mile distance in two hours, 38 minutes and 18 seconds.
  • Martin's two victories at Talladega ties him with several other drivers as the second most by an active driver.
  • Despite a rash of bad luck in 2002, Martin has still scored top 10 finishes in four of his last six races at Talladega.
  • Martin's 31 top-ten finishes in restrictor plate races are the second most ever.
  • Martin's 22 superspeedway poles are the seventh most ever and the third most of any active driver.
  • Martin's 22 wins at superspeedways is the 11th most ever and the fifth most of any active driver.


Mark Martin on Talladega:

"Well it's exciting for the fans but it's really hard for the drivers. Driving at Talladega or Daytona is like driving down a busy interstate with construction going on. There aren't any lines painted on the road and traffic shifts pretty quickly around the construction. You just have to hope everyone around you does the right thing. If they do, you will be okay, but if they don't then who knows what will happen. Still, Talladega is a fast race and a great race for the fans, I've had some really good runs there and hopefully we'll get another one this weekend."

On the Season:

"It's been a roller coaster season so far this year. Actually we've had some great cars this year, but we've been very unlucky at the same time. We've had a couple of mechanical problems that forced us to a pair of bad finishes and we got caught in a wreck at Bristol that hurt us when we had a really fast car. We had a problem in the pits at Darlington that hurt us in a race that we had a car that could win and an untimely caution last week at Texas really hurt our chances of winning there as well. The good news though is that with all of that, we've still been strong enough to have four top-10 finishes in just seven races."


"We will be taking JR-100 to Talladega this weekend. That is the same car that we ran in the Twin 125's earlier this year and it was pretty good there. Hopefully we'll be able to have a good finish at Talladega and try to get on a little bit of a roll headed into April."

2003 Mark Martin Articles - January

2003 Mark Martin Articles - February

2003 Mark Martin Articles - March

2003 Mark Martin Articles - May

2003 Mark Martin Articles - June & July

2003 Mark Martin Articles - August

2003 Mark Martin Articles - September

2003 Mark Martin Articles - October

2003 Mark Martin Articles - November

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