NASCAR's Mark Martin
2003 Season Articles - May

Martin/Viagra Racing team look to mash Monster Mile
WhoWon.com
May 29, 2003

CONCORD, N.C. -- Mark Martin and the No. 6 Viagra® Racing team will take to the one-mile concrete track of Dover International Speedway this weekend in hopes of expanding on the success they enjoyed there last season.

Martin was strong at Dover last season, finishing second in the fall race and leading 77 laps there in the spring. Jimmy Johnson just narrowly held off Martin in the waning laps of the fall race, as Martin worked his way all the way up the field and in contention for the victory.

Martin had a straight-away lead on the rest of the field in the spring race, and had led 77 of 125 laps when he got caught up in an accident involving the lapped cars of Steve Park and Ryan Newman. The team worked on the car and eventually returned for a few laps, but had to settle for a disappointing 41st-place finish. Still, there was no doubt to anyone that Martin had the fastest car on the track that day.

This weekend the team returns to Dover, a track where Martin has produced 15 top-five finishes and 20 top-10 finishes in 33 starts (60 percent). In fact, in the 15 races at Dover in which Martin has completed every lap, he has never finished worse than ninth place, and of those 15 races, Martin has posted 14 top-five finishes. He has won there on three occasions and posted five second-place finishes.

Martin is optimistic going into Dover, which is part of a streak of races in late May and June that he has traditionally had strong efforts.

“I love racing at Dover,” said Martin. “It’s a great track. It’s a concrete surface and it’s very fast. We’ve ran really well there over the years and we were strong there last season. I’m looking forward to Dover, as well as the next few races.

“Charlotte kind of kicks off a string of race tracks in which we do pretty well. I like racing at Pocono and Michigan is a great track. We’ll end June in Sonoma, where we tested and I feel good about that race as well. Hopefully we can have a little better luck in the next few races and get this thing back on track.

“It’s starting to sound like a broken record, but we’ve had really good cars this year,” added Martin. “But we’ve had just awful luck. Last week in the 600 we had a really fast car that was just starting to come in and we have an oil line problem. That type of thing is the kind thing that you can’t control on the track, but it’s the type of thing that has happened so much this year. That along with all the wrecks that we have gotten tangled up in – which has also been out of our control – has really hurt us.”

However, after 20 plus years on the circuit, Martin knows it is all a part of racing.

“Hey, that is just the way it is,” said Martin. “There are so many things in racing that you can’t control and when you start worrying about those things, then you tend to make it 10 times worse. You just have to keep working as hard as you can and keep digging as hard as you can. This is a very talented race team and I can’t say enough about the job they have done this year. Hopefully they’ll get a little more of a chance to show everyone that as the year goes on.”

2003 Mark Martin MBNA America 400 Track Notes
Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
MBNA Platinum 400/Dover International Speedway - June 1, 2003
Roush Racing
May 29, 2993

DRIVER: Mark Martin

CAR OWNER: Jack Roush

EVENT: MBNA America 400

TRACK: Dover International Speedway/Dover, DE

TRACK SPECS: 1.0-miles/ 400 laps

2002 WINNER: Jimmie Johnson

2002 EVENT: Started: 13th Finished: 41st

The team took a brand new car, which was fast off the truck running the second fastest time in the first practice session, but times fell off some and the team qualified 13th. With adjustments, the car was fast in race trim and Martin led 77 of the first 125 laps. Martin was running in the top three by lap 29 and key work in the pits gave Martin the lead on lap 44. Martin would hold the lead, staying out in front of second place by as much as a straightaway, before getting caught up in an accident involving lapped traffic on lap 125. The team worked to repair the car and Martin came back on the track on the lead lap in 29th place. With the car in bad shape Martin fell three laps down by lap 203. The car returned to the pits on lap 218 to replace the nose; returned to the track but lost water pressure and had to go to the garage on lap 241. The team continued to work on the car and returned to the track on lap 305, but the car was just in too bad of shape to continue. The team retired to the garage for good after completing 283 laps, recording a disappointing 41st place finish.

ON TO DOVER

After a 29th-place finish at Charlotte, Martin and the No. 6 ViagraŇ Racing Team move to Dover International Speedway where Martin posted two strong runs last season, including a second place finish in the fall. Martin has ran to 15 top-five finishes in 33 races at Dover.

IN THE POINTS

Martin is currently 13th in the point's race, 73 points outside of 10th place.

THE CAR

The Viagra® Racing Team will take JR-97 to Dover this weekend. JR-97 has posted top five finishes in both its runs this year at Texas and Richmond. JR-97 ran five times last season, posting top 10 finishes at Phoenix (4th), Homestead (4th), Martinsville in the fall (10th), and Richmond in the fall (6th). The car finished 16th in its other run, a rain-shortened race at Loudon, in which Martin took the Winston Cup points lead.

MARK MARTIN FAST FACTS - DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

  • Martin finished second last fall at Dover and led 77 laps in the spring race until getting caught up in an accident on lap 125.
  • Martin owns the 400-mile race record at Dover, which he accomplished on Sept. 21, 1997 with a time of three hours and 50 seconds, at an average speed of 132.719.
  • Martin has posted 15 top-five finishes at Dover, the most of any active driver.
  • Martin has finished ninth or better, including three victories, in 10 of the past 13 races at Dover.
  • Martin has 15 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes in 33 races at Dover.
  • Martin has led 22 races at Dover for 1,625 laps and has led in 10 of the last 11 races at Dover for a total of 980 laps.
  • Martin finished fifth in his first race at Michigan on May 16, 1982.

QUOTING MARK MARTIN AND BEN LESLIE

Mark Martin on Dover:

"Dover is a track that I really enjoy racing at. It's a concrete surface, so that makes the driving style a little different because on concrete, you can't slide the car like you can on asphalt so you have to keep the car under you more. We've ran really well there, especially last year where we finished second and really had a shot at the win. I'm looking forward to taking another shot.

"We are coming up on a string of tracks that we really like. I love Charlotte and Dover and Pocono is usually a pretty good race for us, as is Michigan. We also tested at Sonoma and feel pretty good about that race as well. Hopefully in the next few weeks, things will go a little more our way, and this team will have a chance to show everyone just how good it really is."

Crew Chief Ben Leslie on Dover:

"Dover is just a really fast concrete track, where, if you have the car setup right, you want to stay on the bottom all day if you can. We are taking JR-97 this week and that is the car that had top-five finishes this season at both Texas and Richmond a couple of weeks ago. We had solid runs at both Dover races last season and could have won either of those had a couple of more things gone our way. Hopefully we can have another strong run this weekend."

ONE OF NASCAR's ALL-TIME ELITE, MARK MARTIN

  • Martin's 33 Winston Cup wins make him the fourth most winning active driver on the Cup circuit.
  • Martin has currently started 484 straight races, the fourth-longest string of any current driver and the eighth-longest streak in Cup history.
  • Martin's 41 all-time Winston Cup poles are the fifth most in Winston Cup History.
  • Martin ranks fifth all-time in Winston Cup points standings.
  • Martin has started 541 Winston Cup Races, finishing inside the top 10 on 320 occasions, inside the top five 204 times and visiting winner's circle 33 times.
  • Martin's 45 career wins in the Busch series are a NASCAR record.
  • Martin gets his 11th career IROC win, tying him for most series wins with Al Unser, Jr. and the late Dale Earnhardt. He also ties Earnhardt with four True Value IROC championships and holds a record of three consecutive titles.

Rain, Damaged Oil Line Dampen Night for Viagra Racing Team
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagra® Racing Team
Lowe's Motor Speedway/May 25, 2003
Roush Racing

CONCORD, N.C. - (May 25, 2003) – Optimism was high for Mark Martin and the No. 6 Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) Racing Team as they entered the Coca-Cola 600. Martin won the event a year ago and was coming off a top-five finish at Richmond, heading into a racetrack that he considers one of his favorites.

The 600 presents a situation where the race begins during the warm May afternoon, but track conditions dramatically change as the North Carolina sun disappears into the horizon and night falls over the track. Martin and the no. 6 crew set the car up to handle the cooler conditions of the night and the plan was working to perfection. After struggling during the beginning of the race, Martin had become one of the fastest cars on the track and had worked his way inside the top 20 by lap 113. Martin radioed his crew that the car was working ‘very good.’

However, there would be a niche. The crew had noticed a small oil leak during an earlier pit stop and took the opportunity during a caution on lap 127 to check under the hood. Further examination of the problem revealed a broken oil line. The team came back into the pits to work on the line. They were able to bypass the line, but lost a lap in the process. When Martin returned to the field he was one lap down and in 38th position.

“We broke an oil line,” said Martin after the race. “We had a 10th-place car, maybe a little better. Under good conditions we were even better than that. I would say we were about a fifth-place car, but we were off at the start.

“We knew we would be off at the start, but we also knew the track was going come to us and it did,” added Martin. “Unfortunately, so did the oil leak.”

Despite the fact the team was not satisfied it has completely remedied the problem with the oil line, Martin quickly worked his way back up the field. By lap 186 he had moved all the way into 28th place and towards the leaders. However, fearing that the bypass would not hold up, the crew decided to come in and completely replace the damaged oil line when a caution was called on lap 197. When the repairs were finished, Martin had lost another lap and due to the fact that a handful of cars had yet to pit when the caution was called, Martin would return to the field three laps down and in 36th place on lap 203.

“It was frustrating, because I had worked so hard to move up the field and try to get my lap back,” said Martin. “But we had to fix the problem or we could have come out much worse in the end.”

With the oil line repaired, Martin’s car was still fast. By lap 222 he had moved into 30th place; the first car on his lap. Martin would move into 29th place after a caution on lap 239. However, heavy rain would force another caution on lap 263. A few moments later NASCAR announced that the race was officially over and Martin would never get a chance regain any of his laps back or further his position. Jimmy Johnson was declared the race winner and Roush teammate Matt Kenseth finished second.

“The problem with the oil line was really unfortunate,” said crew chief Ben Leslie. “We had set the car up to get better as the night went on and we were right on track. The car was working really well and we were starting to move up the field when we found the problem. We were able to fix it, but it cost us a couple of laps. We never really had the opportunity to get any of the laps back, despite the fact Mark was really fast out there. Hopefully, we’ll come back and have a little better luck next week in Dover.”

Martin is currently in 13th place in the Winston Cup point standings, 83 points outside of 10th place. Martin and the No. 6 Viagra® Racing team will return to action next week in Dover, where Martin ran to a second-place finish last fall.

Motorsports - Car better, results not for Martin
Last year's Coca-Cola 600 winner has yet to make a charge in the points race.
By Joanne Korth, Times Staff Writer
St. Petersburg Times
May 24, 2003

CONCORD, N.C. - A year ago, Mark Martin ended a 73-race losing streak and vaulted into the Winston Cup championship chase with a victory in the Coca-Cola 600.

He could use another boost.

His cars are strong this season - stronger than last - but two engine failures and a series of accidents have cost him valuable points. He is 12th in the standings, ready to make his move in NASCAR's longest race Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

"The Coca-Cola 600 is just a great race," said Martin, driver of the No. 6 Ford. "My win here last year is one of the most special moments that I have in racing. I love racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway. It is probably my favorite track on the circuit."

Martin's season got off to a solid start with finishes of fifth and seventh at Daytona and Rockingham, respectively. But consecutive engine failures at Las Vegas and Atlanta dropped him from fourth to 25th in the standings. In three of the next five races, he was caught up in accidents. What can you do?

"None of this mess that I've been tangled up in has been any of my doing," said Martin, 44. "We did break two engines and that was shame on us. So, we've done what we've done. There's a lot of racing left. If we can keep up the performance we'll have some fun this summer. The car has run better this year than last year, and that I'm pretty pleased about."

Remove Martin's misfortune from the equation and he has five finishes of seventh or better in six races. Pretty darn good, actually. Though he trails Roush Racing teammate and points leader Matt Kenseth by 377, Martin is just 17 behind 10th-place Sterling Marlin. He is not optimistic about his championship chances but plans to move up in the standings.

"We're sort of behind the 8-ball for the championship," he said. "But can we still have a great season? Absolutely."

Martin never will forget the joy of reaching Victory Lane at LMS last year, his first win in more than two years. Not only was it his first with many new team members, including crew chief Ben Leslie, but he shared the thrill with wife Arlene and son Matt. He also won a $1-million bonus from series sponsor Winston in the now-defunct No Bull 5 program.

After starting 25th, Martin moved up quickly and was in the top 15 most of the race. He took the lead on a pit stop on Lap 360 of 400 and led the rest of the way.

But it wasn't easy.

Kenseth caught Martin in the closing laps, forcing Martin to dart aggressively through lapped traffic to maintain the lead. When it was over, the fitness enthusiast was so tired he could barely lift himself out of the car.

"Lowe's is one of Mark's favorite tracks and we'll be looking for a strong run," said Leslie, credited by Martin with reviving his career after a dismal 2001. "We tested a few weeks ago and were pleased with the results, so hopefully we can get back in the winner's circle again this year and keep Mark's name on that trophy."

Martin has four wins at LMS, a 1.5-mile oval that requires good handling in the corners. In the past 10 events there, including the October race, no one has been better: two wins, seven top fives, eight top 10s and 489 laps led.

"Mark has always done well at Charlotte," owner Jack Roush said. "It's been one of his favorite places and he did win last year. That's the last time he won and he's anxious not to go beyond the year mark without winning another race, so it's personal as well as professional for him."

Roush drivers have won four consecutive 600s: Jeff Burton in 1999 and 2001, Kenseth in 2000 and Martin last year.

"This team picked this race to go win the million-dollar bonus and it was magical because you don't get to pick them," Martin said. "The ones you win nowadays are meant to be. You can't will it. If you're lucky, they pick you."

Martin could use some luck.

2003 Mark Martin Coca-Cola 600 Track Notes
Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
Coca-Cola 600/Lowe's Motor Speedway - May 25, 2003
May 22, 2003

DRIVER: Mark Martin

CAR OWNER: Jack Roush

TRACK: Quad-oval, 1.5 miles, 24 degrees banking in turns

RACE DISTANCE: 600 miles, 400 laps

2002 COCA-COLA 600 WINNER: Mark Martin

RACE #12, MAY 26, 2002 - Lowe's Motor Speedway
Coca-Cola 600 - Started 25th, Finished 1st

Martin's car was fast off of the truck, running times inside the field's top-five, but the car struggled during qualifying and started 25th. Martin ran times in or just outside the top 10 in the final two practice sessions, but late adjustments helped improve the speed of the car. With the car fast in race trim Martin broke into the top 20 on just the second lap and was running in the top 15 by lap 43. Excellent pit stops played an important role in the win, with the crew giving Martin several positions in the pits, including the top position on lap 360, which Martin would never relinquish. Martin held off teammate Matt Kenseth in the last laps for the win.

THE 600

Martin returns to Lowe's Motor Speedway to defend his 2002 win of NASCAR's longest race. Martin held off teammate Matt Kenseth to earn what will go down as one of the most exciting of his 33 current Winston Cup victories.

REVERSE PAINT SCHEME

Martin will again run the special 'reverse' paint scheme for the 600. The car, which is normally predominately black with white striping, will be white with black striping instead for the 600, just as it was for "The Winston."

THE CAR

Chassis Number: (JR-95) - The Viagra® Racing Team will take JR-95 to the Coca-Cola 600. JR-95 last ran at Darlington where it posted a solid fourth-place finish. JR-95 also ran at Atlanta and Rockingham this season. It was one of the fastest cars on the track in Atlanta, before falling victim to mechanical problems and it finished seventh at Rockingham. The car ran to second place finishes at both Dover and Pocono last season as well.

MARK MARTIN FAST FACTS

  • Martin is the defending champion of the Coca-Cola 600. He won the 2002 event for his 33rd Winston Cup event.
  • Martin has won on four occasions at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
  • Martin has finished inside the top 10 in 12 of the last 14 races at Lowe's Motor Speedway, including 11 top-fives in the last 15 races.
  • Martin has four wins, 15 top-fives and 19 top-10 finishes in 35 starts at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
  • Martin finished inside the top in 8 of 19 Coca-Cola 600's.
  • Roush Racing has won the last four Coca-Cola 600 races (Martin-2002, Jeff Burton-1999 and 2001, Matt Kenseth-2000).

QUOTING MARK MARTIN AND BEN LESLIE

Martin on racing at Charlotte:

"The Coca-Cola 600 is just a great race. My win there last year is one of the most special moments that I have in racing, so obviously that race is one of my favorites. Beyond that I love racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway. It is probably my favorite track on the circuit. The 600 is always a great challenge to the drivers, but at the same time it's a really fun race. The track is a driver's track. Handling, especially in the corners, is key there and it really suites my style of driving."

Crew Chief Ben Leslie on racing at Charlotte:

"It will always be a special race to me, because that is where this team got its first Winston Cup win and that was also my first win as a crew chief. As far as this year's race, we are taking JR-95, which is one of Mark's favorite cars. Lowe's is one of Mark's favorite tracks and we will go there looking for a strong run. We tested there a few weeks ago and were pleased with the results, so hopefully we can get back in the winner's circle there again this year and keep Mark's name on that trophy."

Roush Driver Diary: Mark Martin
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Roush Racing

Hello all,

Well we are coming up on one of my favorite races and I'm excited about this weekend and the Coca-Cola 600. As I'm sure most of you remember, last year we won that race and I think that the Viagra Racing Team is ready to get back into victory lane.

We are taking one of my favorite cars this weekend and Lowe's Motor Speedway is one of my favorite tracks on the circuit. We tested there a few weeks ago and were really pleased with the results and hopefully that will show on the track this weekend.

We were really disappointed last week with what happened in the Winston. We had a pretty good car. Although I wasn't all that happy with it, it had gotten better and we were ready to move into the final segment when we got caught up in the accident. That is why we don't take the same car to the Winston and the 600 anymore, because you don't want your 600 car getting destroyed a week before the race. You saw last Saturday night what can happen, and that was just one more lap to go in the segment and we all would have been in the next segment.

Still, the Winston is a fun and exciting event and we all have a good time with it. However, this week is the one that counts, and the Viagra Racing Team should be ready to roll come Thursday. As I've said before, we are heading into a stretch of races that really suits us and I'm excited about the races we have coming up at Charlotte, Dover and Pocono. All are places that we've ran pretty well. The next few weeks should be exciting for the No. 6 team.

Thanks for the support,
Mark

Multi-Car Accident Puts End to Martin's Run at The Winston
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagra® Racing Team
Lowe's Motor Speedway/May 17, 2003
Roush Racing

CONCORD, N.C. - (May 17, 2003) – Mark Martin and the No. 6 Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) Racing Team was running in ninth place with only one lap remaining in the second segment of the 2003 Winston all-star race, when a multi-car accident put an early end to their race night. In just one more lap Martin would have secured a spot in the third and final round of the event, but the veteran driver got caught up in the wreck that claimed four other cars, all of which would have advanced to the final round.

“"I was slowing down the No. five car was going around slowly and somebody ran into the back of me. Anyways, whoever was running behind me got into the back of me and that turned us out of control. It just wadded up from there. The 20 just got in the back of the 5 and turned him and he was doing a slow spin, so I had to wait for it to go down or up. The 20 and I really had to really “whoa down”, but then I got hit from behind. The wreck was on once the five started turning sideways."

Martin, who ran a special ‘reverse’ paint scheme for the weekend, officially finished 15th in the all-star event, but was optimistic about the team’s chances next week in the Coca-Cola 600, where Martin is the defending race winner.

“This wasn’t our best car, we saved that for next week,” said Martin. “Twice I’ve wrecked my best car in the Winston, so we don’t bring that anymore. It’s just too intense out there to take that chance. We’ll come back next week with our best car and work as hard as we can to win the 600.”

Martin qualified 14th on Friday, in a special qualifying session for the Winston that features a pit stop and three laps. The Winston is divided into three separate segments. The first segment ends after lap 40 and the second segment ends after lap 70. Only 20 of the 24 cars that started the race advance to the second segment. Fourteen of those 20 cars advance to the third segment. The final segment is 20 laps long, making the total laps of The Winston 90.

The car was ‘tight’ during the first segment, but he managed to stay in place and finish the segment in 14th place, advancing to segment two. With the car ‘pushing’ in the corners, Martin brushed the wall in traffic on lap 44, but managed to hold position. The team took advantage of a caution three laps later to repair the slight damage and take on four tires and make wedge and air pressure adjustment to work on the car’s handling.

Martin restarted in 19th place when the field went green on lap 50 with 20 laps remaining in the segment. Martin worked his way up to 15th place by lap 56. By lap 60 Martin was running in 11th place with only 10 laps remaining the segment. He moved into the top 10 to ninth place on lap 63 and looked poised to advance to the final segment.

Caution was called on lap 66 for a wreck involving the no. 12 car, but instead of finishing the segment under caution the cars were stopped on the backstretch, before moving to green and restarting on lap 69. Martin was involved in the accident moments later.

Mark Martin - Finish 15 - Start 14 - 69 Laps - Accident (Eliminated) - Winnings $66,104

Martin turning things around
By Rupen Fofaria
Special to ESPN.com
May 16, 2003

What did Mark Martin do during his weekend off?

Not much. He just relaxed. And that's exactly what he needed.

"It's been a real busy last couple of week," Martin said before the off-week. "It'll be nice to have some time to catch my breath."

The break in the schedule was a breather for every team -- but it was especially well-deserved for the No. 6 Ford crew. Martin and company struggled at the season's start, sitting 23rd in the points after the sixth race of the year at Bristol, Tenn. Last year's runner-up was experiencing horrendous luck and made a couple of poor decisions.

Some believed an off-week back then would have benefited the team -- giving them a moment to evaluate what was going wrong.

"Our luck probably can't get worse," said a dejected Ben Leslie, Martin's crew chief.

But Martin, Leslie and the boys went another way.

Instead of pausing, they went to work earlier, stayed later, added more traveling to the slate and basically took in a big old dose of racing. The team spent the week before the race in Fontana, Calif., testing at the road course in Sonoma, Calif. Then, after racing in Fontana, the team headed straight to Charlotte for a two-day test at Lowe's Motor Speedway. From there, one day was spent at the shop before the team departed for Richmond, Va., concluding a whirlwind two-and-a-half week stretch with a top-five finish at the Virginia short track.

The fruits of all that labor were evident that night. The misfortune that had hit them so many times early in the year tried to revisit them there, too -- they had to start in the back of the field after changing an engine and spent an extended pit stop fixing a bearing that had seized in the firewall. Finally, after they blew a tire and fell to the rear of the lead lap, they used a two-tire stop to catch up and conclude the frenzied evening in fifth.

So, after running themselves ragged, they headed into the off-week they needed having leaped to 12th in the standings. And things are even brighter than that. Last week's respite ends with a trip to Charlotte, a track Martin enjoys and stands as defending winner of the Coca-Cola 600 -- which will be run next weekend after Saturday night's running of The Winston.

"Sometimes you just have to ride out all of the bad luck and things start looking up," said Jack Roush, Martin's car owner. "He's been around a while. He knows that. (The team) really stuck with it and have got things going a little bit better, now."

They certainly do, thanks to a lot of sacrifice.

Girlfriends and wives were neglected. Personal time was scarce. But the team worked overtime because they knew they were capable of doing better.

"It makes for a long couple of weeks," Leslie said. "But you have to do everything that you can to get ahead on the track. The competition is so heavy these days that you just can't rest on what you have. You have to constantly search for new things that can get you around the track faster.

"We were happy with what we learned in both Sonoma and Charlotte and we look forward to going to both of those tracks. We won the 600 last year, so we want to come out and have another strong run. It's one of Mark's favorite tracks and we all look forward to racing there. Hopefully we can have a good showing at both The Winston and the 600 and maybe build some momentum heading into June."

Momentum would breed confidence, and that would be a huge boost. Even though the finishes were disappointing, through the first six races particularly, the car wasn't. The No. 6 car was often a hot-rod before being taken out in a wreck or having the setup shot.

"The teams worked really hard this year and I'm extremely proud of the effort," Leslie said. "The results may not show it completely, but we've had some pretty fast race cars this year."

Martin agreed.

"This has been a difficult year so far in the sense that we've just had things continue to happen to us," he said. "We've had great cars, great runs and great work in the pits, but we (continued) to run into horrible luck on the track that keeps us from having the types of finishes that this team deserves. We'll keep fighting and working and eventually things will come together for us."

It appears things are coming together, too. There's more work to be done, Martin points out, but there's no better place to continue the resurgence than Charlotte, right?

"I love it here," he said. "For some reason, I've always been pretty good at this track and that makes it that much easier for me to like.

"We had a pretty good test here. We started out slow but got a lot better and I'm just excited to see what we can come out of here with."

Martin To Run Special "Reverse" Paint Scheme At The Winston
Roush Racing

Huntersville, NC (May 14, 2003) - Mark Martin and the No. 6 Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) Racing team will run a special "reverse" paint scheme this weekend when Martin makes his 14th consecutive start in NASCAR's all-star event, "The Winston."

Martin's car, which is normally predominately black with white and blue striping, will be predominately white with black and blue stripping on Saturday. This marks the first time that Viagra® has ran a special paint scheme.

"It's a pretty cool paint scheme," said Martin. "We haven't ran a lot of special paint schemes lately, so hopefully we will be able to get it up front and show it off a little bit on Saturday night."

Martin started his first "Winston" in 1990 and finished third. He won the all-star event in 1998 and has finished in the top ten in five of his 14 events, and he says that he always enjoys the race.

"It's just an exciting event," said Martin. "It's exciting for the fans, it's exciting for the crews and it's exciting for the drivers. It's good to have a week off from the pressures of point racing, but with a million dollars going to the winner there is still a lot of exciting racing going on out there.

"I think that they have done a great job with "The Winston" and it has become a great event," added Martin. "On top of that, I love racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The Winston is a show and what better track to put on a show than Lowe's Motor Speedway."

2003 Mark Martin The Winston Track Notes
Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
The Winston/Lowe's Motor Speedway - May 17, 2003
Roush Racing
May 13, 2003

DRIVER: Mark Martin
CAR OWNER: Jack Roush

EVENT: The Winston

TRACK: Lowe's Motor Speedway/Concord, NC

TRACK SPECS: 1.5-miles/ 90 laps

2002 WINNER: Ryan Newman

2002 EVENT: STARTED: 5TH FINISHED: 18TH

Martin’s car was fast off the truck, and boasted times in the top three in both of Friday's practice sessions. He qualified fifth (based on two laps and a pit stop), but was slowed in qualifying by a wet track; the result of a light rain fall that began and ended just moments before Martin was to take the track. The car started the race fast, moving to second by only the third lap and taking the lead on lap six, before starting to distance himself from the field. Martin built as much as a three-car lead on the field. He finished the first segment fifth, after pitting under caution. Some teams found flaws in the rules that allowed them to finish ahead of Martin, despite the fact the No. 6 was undoubtedly the fastest car on the track. Mechanical problems on lap 52 ended Martin's night early, but the tone was set by the No. 6 team for the upcoming 600, which Martin would go on to win.

THE WINSTON

With 11 races in the books, the NASCAR circuit takes a week off from point racing for the all-star event The Winston. This will be Martin’s 14th consecutive running of the all-star event.

Martin won the event in 1998 and has finished inside the top five on four occasions and inside the top-10 five times. The Winston is made up of drivers who have won a Winston Cup race in the past year, as well as winners of the event from 1998-2002.

IN THE POINTS

Martin’s top-five run at Richmond moved him into 12th place, just 17 points outside of 10th.

REVERSE PAINT SCHEME

Martin will run a special ‘reverse’ paint scheme for The Winston. The car, which is normally predominately black with white striping, will be white with black striping instead for the all-star race.

THE CAR

The Viagra® Racing Team will take JR-102 to the Winston. JR-102 posted a strong run at Fontana in its first ever outing, where it would have finished in the top-five if not for a last lap accident that dropped Martin to a 17th-place finish.

MARTIN FAST FACTS - LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY

  • Martin will compete in his 14th straight “Winston”.
  • Martin led 20 of the 52 laps he ran during last year’s Winston.
  • Martin won the Winston in 1998 and has posted four top-five and five top 10’s at the all-star event.
  • Martin finished third during his first Winston, back in 1990.
QUOTING MARK MARTIN & BEN LESLIE

Mark Martin on The Winston:

"The Winston is an incredible event. I think the format has evolved over the years into one of the most exciting formats that you could dream of. It will probably keep evolving, but right now it’s really, really exciting. It’s a race 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 the thing. It’s something that I’ll never forget and it’s been such an honor to be a part of, and I think the fans feel that same way. Their support for this event is really spectacular."

“It’s also nice to take a week off from racing for points and just be able to go out and put it all on the line. I also love racing at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The Winston is a great show and there is no better place to put on a show for the fans that Lowe’s.”

Crew Chief Ben Leslie on The Winston:

“The Winston is a lot of fun. The guys all enjoy it and I know that Mark likes the race. We had a pretty good car for the Winston last year and we led quite a few laps in that race as well. We will use JR-102, which is the same car we ran a couple of weeks ago in California. Hopefully it will be just as strong and we’ll have a pretty good showing at the Winston.”

ONE OF NASCAR's ALL-TIME ELITE, MARK MARTIN

  • Martin's 33 Winston Cup wins make him the fourth most winning active driver on the Cup circuit.
  • Martin has currently started 484 straight races, the fourth-longest string of any current driver and the eighth-longest streak in Cup history.
  • Martin's 41 all-time Winston Cup poles are the fifth most in Winston Cup History.
  • Martin ranks fifth all-time in Winston Cup points standings.
  • Martin has started 541 Winston Cup Races, finishing inside the top 10 on 320 occasions, inside the top five 204 times and visiting winner's circle 33 times.
  • Martin's 45 career wins in the Busch series are a NASCAR record.
  • Martin gets his 11th career IROC win, tying him for most series wins with Al Unser, Jr. and the late Dale Earnhardt. He also ties Earnhardt with four True Value IROC championships and holds a record of three consecutive titles.

Martin/Viagra® Racing Team Optimistic After Lowe's Test
Roush Racing

Huntersville, NC (May 7, 2003) - Mark Martin and the No. 6 Viagra (sildenafil citrate) Racing team recently completed a two-day test session at Lowe's Motor Speedway in preparation for the upcoming Coca-Cola 600 and The Winston; both held at Lowe's. Martin will look to repeat as the defending champion of the 600, while at the same time earn the one million dollar bounty that goes to the winner of The Winston, NASCAR's Winston Cup all-star event.

Martin is excited about the opportunity to defend at the 600 and said that he is pleased with the results of last week's test in which the team tested a pair of cars to help determine which to run in in the longest race of the season.

"We had a pretty good test there last week," said Martin. "We started off kind of slow, but we got a whole lot faster as the session went on. By the second day we started to like what we were seeing on the track."

The session capped off a whirlwind tour for Martin and the No. 6 team who spent the entire previous week in California, testing at Sonoma and then racing in Fontana before heading to Charlotte for the two-day test session prior to last weekend's race at Richmond. All in all a busy week for the No. 6 team, but according to crew chief Ben Leslie it is the price of success.

"It makes for a long couple of weeks," said Leslie. "But you have to do everything that you can to get ahead on the track. The competition is so heavy these days that you just can't rest on what you have. You have to constantly search for new things that can get you around the track faster.

"We were happy with what we learned in both Sonoma and Charlotte and we look forward to going to both of those tracks. We won the 600 last year, so we want to come out and have another strong run. It's one of Mark's favorite tracks and we all look forward to racing there. Hopefully we can have a good showing at both The Winston and the 600 and maybe build some momentum heading into June."

Martin posted one of the most dramatic of his 33 Winston Cup victories last season at the Coca-Cola 600, slicing and dicing through lapped traffic late in the race to hold off teammate Matt Kenseth to win a race that has seen Roush Racing victorious in each of the last four years.

Martin won The Winston in 1998 and wouldn't mind another trip to victory lane n the all-star event of which he will be making his 14th start.

"The Winston is an awesome event," said Martin. "When you point race for 36 weeks like we do, it's kind of fun to just relax and have some fun, but that doesn't mean that we don't get after it. You never know what might happen in that race, especially with a million dollars on the line, but it's really just a great event."

Martin is currently 12th in the Winston Cup point standings, just 17 points outside of 10th place.

Martin/Viagra® Racing Team Fight To Fifth Place Finish At Richmond
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagra® Racing Team
Richmond International Raceway/May 3, 2003
Roush Racing

RICHMOND, VA. - (May 3, 2003) – “It wasn’t easy, we must have passed 60 cars tonight,” said Mark Martin as he climbed out of his No. 6 Viagra? (sildenafil citrate) Ford just moments after running to a well-fought fifth-place finish in Saturday night’s Pontiac Excitement 400 at the Richmond International Raceway.

Martin’s statistic may not have been that far off, as Martin and the No. 6 race team battled numerous setbacks during Saturday’s first night race of the season. In a race plagued by a record 15 cautions and the constant threat of rain, Martin started 30th after the team struggled with the car’s speed for the great majority of the weekend.

Martin had worked his way all the way up the field to 14th position by lap 108 when he began to experience severe problems with the car’s power steering. Martin was forced to maneuver the car around the track for the next several laps until caution was called on lap 141 giving the team a chance to repair the car’s problems. The team came into the pits several times during the caution to fix the steering problem, tighten up the car and add fuel and four tires. When the field went green again on lap 157, Martin was back in 28th position.

Once again Martin began to patiently work his way up the field and was running in 16th position when the day’s fourth caution was called on lap 209 for rainfall. With the threat of continuing rainfall, the majority of the teams decided not to pit. Martin and the No. 6 team decided to come into the pits for tires and fuel and returned to the field in 19th position when the field went green on lap 218.

The gamble paid off as caution was again called on lap 223 with Martin running in 18th position. The cars that did not pit during the caution for rain were forced to come into the pits for fuel and Martin moved up to second position when the field went green on lap 230. Martin battled Jeff Gordon for the next several laps, but twice cautions prevented the No. 6 from overtaking the No. 24 car of Gordon.

Martin finally passed Gordon on lap 260 to take the lead just prior to the day’s seventh caution. Martin would lead for the next 10 laps. Caution was again called on lap 267 and during the caution laps Martin and the team discovered that the rear left tire of the car was losing air. The team was forced to pit under caution on lap 270 to change the tire and Martin found himself back in 23rd place when the field went green on lap 277.

Once again Martin would be forced to work his way up the field. The veteran driver went to work, breaking back inside the top 20 on lap 285. By lap 297 Martin was running in 16th place when the day’s ninth caution was called. The team came into the pits and decided to take right side tires only to gain track position and Martin was running in seventh place then the field went green on lap 303.

Battling cars and cautions, Martin had moved into fifth place by lap 362 and was moving in to pass the 31 car for fourth position when caution was called again with just 38 laps remaining in the race. The remainder of the race would be plagued by cautions, thus limiting any ability to gain position.

Finally, after the day’s final caution on lap 389, heavy rain set in forcing NASCAR to call the race with seven laps remaining. Martin would finish fifth, joining three of his Roush teammates in the top 10. The finish marked Martin’s fifth top-10 finish of 2003 and moved Martin up to 12th place in the Winston Cup points race, just 17 points outside of the top 10.

"We had a really, really good car, but we had a lot of problems,” said Martin. “We had to go to the back. We started in the back, and then we had a bearing seize up in the firewall, we had to fix that - lucky that we got that fixed.

“It was a great effort by the team. And then we had a flat tire, and dropped us all the way to the end of the line. So, the last pit stop we only took two tires to get some track position. You know, that handicapped us a little bit. We had such a great race car we could stay right with them there. It was good run."

The team will take next week off for Mother’s Day, before returning to action the following week for The Winston. NASCAR’s all-star event held at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

2003 Mark Martin Richmond Track Notes
Viagra® (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
Pontiac Excitement 500/Richmond International Raceway
Roush Racing
May 3, 2003

Driver: Mark Martin

Car Owner: Jack Roush

Event: Pontiac Excitement 500

Track: Richmond International Raceway/Richmond, VA

Track Specs: .75-miles/ 400 laps

2002 Winner: Matt Kenseth

2002 Event: Started: 18th Finished: 4th

Martin raced to a fourth-place finish Sunday at the conclusion of the Pontiac Excitement 400. The race, which actually began on Saturday night before being red flagged due to persistent rainfall, marked Martin's 300th career Winston Cup top-10 finish in 505 starts. While slow on the start, the car proved to be one of the fastest cars on the track on the long runs, and Martin was able to move the car into third position, after passing Jeff Gordon on lap 359 of the 400 lap race. Ready to mount a run for the win, Martin was gaining a tenth of a second per lap on race leaders Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, when the day's 12th caution on lap 364 halted Martin's serious shot at the win.

MARTIN LOOKS FOR LIGHT IN THE DARK IN FIRST NIGHT OF THE SEASON

Martin and the No. 6 team posted a strong run at California, moving all the way from 35th to fourth place, only to be struck once again by bad luck, getting caught up in a last lap accident the relegated Martin to a 17th-place finish.

This week Martin and the Viagra® Racing Team will look to end their string of bad luck in Richmond at the first night race of 2003.

IN THE POINTS

Despite the late-race mishap, Martin still moved up one place to 14th in the Winston Cup Point’s race, 67 points outside of 10th place, 184 points outside of fifth and 391 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.

A YEAR AGO AT RICHMOND

Last season for the sixth time in his Winston Cup career, Martin finished inside the top-10 in both Richmond races. His best year at Richmond came in ’90 when he won the spring race before finishing second in Sept. Last season Martin finished fourth in the rain-delayed spring race, before running to a sixth-place finish in the fall.

THE CAR

The Viagra® Racing Team will take JR-97 to Richmond this week. JR-97 ran five times last season, but will be making its first run of 2003. The car ran sixth –place finish in the fall race at Richmond last year. It also posted top-five finishes at Phoenix (4th) and Homestead (4th) and a 10th-place finish at Martinsville in the fall. The car finished 16th in its other outing in the rain-shortened fall race at Loudon where Martin took the Winston Cup point’s lead.

MARK MARTIN FAST FACTS - RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY

  • Mark Martin has finished ninth or better in 14 of his past 21 races at Richmond.
  • Martin has posted 10 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 36 races at Richmond.
  • Martin won at Richmond on 2/25/90, his only Winston Cup victory at the track.
  • Martin finished seventh in his first career race at Richmond (9/14/81) and sixth on his last race there (9/7/02).

QUOTING MARK MARTIN & BEN LESLIE ON RICHMOND

Mark Martin:

"I like short-track racing and I like racing at Richmond. It’s been a good track for us and we posted solid runs in both races there last season. I’m sure that Ben Leslie and the No. 6 team will have a good car for us there and hopefully we can have another solid run. This has been a difficult year so far in the sense that we’ve just had things continue to happen to us. We’ve had great cars, great runs and great work in the pits, but we continue to run into horrible luck on the track that keeps us from having the types of finishes that this team deserves. We’ll keep fighting and working and eventually things will come together for us.”

Crew Chief Ben Leslie:

“Richmond is one of those short tracks where you really have to watch yourself. It’s like Bristol in the sense that if you don’t stay out of trouble, you could be in for a long night. We were pretty good there in both races last season and Mark’s been pretty good there over the years, so we are hoping to get back on track there this weekend. Our luck probably can’t get worse, so hopefully we’ll see good things this weekend. The team did an outstanding job in the pits last weekend. It was one of our best outings ever and that should give us something to build on.”

2003 Mark Martin Articles - January

2003 Mark Martin Articles - February

2003 Mark Martin Articles - March

2003 Mark Martin Articles - April

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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