NASCAR's Mark Martin
2003 Season Articles - September

Mark Martin EA Sports 500 Race Recap
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagraģ Racing Team
Talladega SuperSpeedway/September 28, 2003
Roush Racing

Talladega, Ala. (Sept. 28, 2003) Ė With 15 laps to go things were looking good for Mark Martin and the Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Racing team. Martin, who had one of the strongest cars in the field, was running in second place and fighting for the lead with teammate Kurt Busch as the final laps were winding down on the 2003 EA Sports 500. Martin was running in seventh place when the no. 38 car went airborne causing the dayís final caution with just six laps to go in the race. The field was red flagged and Martin restarted in seventh place when the race resumed with only four laps remaining.

Teaming up with the No. 12 and No. 2 car Martin moved up to fifth place with just under two laps to go. However, despite a previous agreement, the No. 2 car opted to go below Martin with just over two laps remaining. Martin was stranded in the middle of the track with no drafting partners. To make matters worse another car made contact with the front fender of the Viagraģ Taurus and Martin dropped back to 23rd place as the field took the checkered flag. A tough finish for a car that ran all but four of the raceís 188 laps inside the top 20 and had been in fifth place with just two laps remaining.

Martin started the race 15th but fell out of the draft early and dropped back to 32nd place by lap three. However, the No. 6 Ford would be strong on this day and Martin moved back into the draft and back into 15th place by lap 10. The veteran driver would move in and out of the draft for the remainder of the day moving through the field.

Martin, running second, came in for his fifth pit stop of the day on lap 128 to take right side tires and fuel under a green flag. The team struggled getting around the No. 90 car on pit road and Martin returned to the field in 20th place, but the No. 6 had lost valuable ground to the leaders and was running several car lengths and two packs of cars behind the front.

Martin would hook up with teammate Matt Kenseth and three other cars to form a five-car drafting train that caught the next pack in only eight laps. The dayís third caution just two laps later allotted the team the opportunity to make a series of stops to take on right side and left side tires as well as a splash of fuel just before the race went green with Martin in 17th place.

Martin continued to shuffle in and out of the draft over the next several laps, moving to seventh place by lap 159. Two laps later Martin fell out of the draft, falling to 14th, before moving back inside the top 10 on lap 167. The dayís fourth caution was issued one lap later. Martin opted not to pit and was running in second place when the field went green on lap 174 with only 14 laps remaining. Martin continued to fight for position for the next several laps, before Elliot Sadlerís crash on lap 182 brought out the dayís final caution, setting up the four lap shootout that would see Martin come out on the wrong end. Adding insult to injury, Martinís car suffered damage after the race, when he was caught up in a post race accident that included several cars.


Once a NASCAR Force, Martin Is Struggling
By Patrick Zier, Ledger Correspondent
The Ledger.com
September 25, 2003

Mark Martin thought he had put it back together last year, or rather he thought his team had.

During the 1990s, Martin became one of the most dominant and respected drivers in Winston Cup. He won 30 times and finished second in points three times and third another three.

But when the sport moved into the new millennium, Martin struggled to adjust to the new cars, new tires and new technology that invaded NASCAR.

His performance fell off in 2001, as did that of all Jack Roush's cars, and drastic changes were made.

Veteran crew chief Jimmy Fennig, who had guided Martin to a seven-win season in 1998, moved over to Kurt Busch's team and young Ben Leslie, who had been with Busch, went to Martin.

The swap seemed to revive both drivers. For the fourth time, Martin finished second in points and, after going winless in 2001, he won again in 2002. That led to increased optimism heading into 2003, although Martin, pragmatic to the point of being pessimistic, cautioned that success one season doesn't guarantee success the next.

He has proven prophetic. While he has not fallen back to his 2001 level, Martin has not lived up to the promise of 2002, either. Once again, he is winless with the season winding down and once again he is out of the top 10 in points, ranking 16th as he heads for Talladega. That's the worst he's been since he joined Roush in 1988.

"We had a great race team last year and were able to get some really great performances out of our cars and that's what it takes," Martin said.

"You can have all the ingredients right in a deal and still not get performance."

And Martin's methodical, somewhat skeptical approach is not calculated to energize a team.

While he is definitely appreciative of what the team does, Martin is not the bubbly, effervescent type who sees wins just around the corner like some drivers.

After finishing second at Pocono in June, his best run of the year, Martin said: "I'm not going to celebrate tonight, but if I would have won I wouldn't have celebrated.

"I'm just going to go home and get ready for another race. I don't see why I should be knocking the sides out of my trailer because I ran second," Martin said.

"My demeanor is intimidating to people because I'm real direct in everything," Martin said. "I don't necessarily mean that, but I'm real direct and don't waste a lot of time. I get right to the point, so it's easy to just line up and go."

One thing that has frustrated Martin as well as other veteran drivers is the sense that, with the tidal wave of technology that has swept over the sport, they have been taken out of the equation.

Bill Elliott pretty well summed it up at Indy when he said, "I don't know if the driver means anything anymore."

Martin said pretty much the same thing in January at Daytona when he said, "I don't feel like I contribute anything" in regard to the car's setup.

"We've had problems for five years now and it's been growing every year," Martin said. "I've talked to the competitors about it. I've talked to NASCAR about it. Itís just gotten worse and worse."


2003 Mark Martin EA Sports 500 Track Notes For September 28, 2003
Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
EA Sports 500/Talladega Superspeedway
Roush Racing, WhoWon.com and Compiled Information
September 24, 2003

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

MARTIN, VIAGRA RACING RETURN TO "WORLD'S FASTEST SPEEDWAY"

The Viagra Racing team returns to Talladega for the fourth and final restrictor plate race of the season. The team will be looking to end a streak of bad misfortune at Talladega, where they have fell victim to accidents in the last three races. Martin had a fast car at the spring Talladega race, qualifying ninth, before getting caught up in an early multi-car accident. Still, Martin was fast enough to bring home a 26th-place finish.

AT TALLADEGA

Martin has finished inside the field's top 10 in 20 of his 35 starts at Talladega (57 %). Martin has won twice on the 2.66-mile track and the veteran has posted 10 top-five finishes there as well.

RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING

This will be the fourth and final restrictor plate race of the season. Martin started the year out with a fifth place finish at the Daytona 500, but fell victim to an early multi-car accident at the spring Talladega race. Martin finished 20th in the Pepsi 400 after falling victim to pit sequence. All in all Martin's 31 top-10 finishes in restrictor plate races are the second most ever.

DID YOU KNOW?

Last season Martin was inducted into the Talladega Walk of Fame for his on-track accomplishments at the 'worlds fastest superspeedway.'

LAST YEAR'S WINNER - 2002 RACE: Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. swept both races at Talladega by winning the EA Sports 500. Earnhardt joined Buddy Baker in the Talladega record books as the only drivers in history to win three straight races there.

MARK MARTIN - 2002 RACE

RACE #30, OCTOBER 6 - Talladega Superspeedway
EA Sports 500 - Started 2nd, Finished 30th

Unyielding rains forced the cancellation of qualifying on Friday, and Martin started the race second according to the point standings. In one of the most bizarre incidents of the year, the car experienced a steering problem during the pace laps on Sunday, forcing Martin to collide with the 48 car and run down into the infield. The problem corrected itself, but NASCAR asked Martin to pit just before the green flag, and the No. 6 returned to the field in 43rd place; half a lap down. The field caught Martin by lap 14, but he continued to run with the leaders, despite being a lap down. By lap 142 Martin was running in 27th place and just behind the field's leader when a blown tire forced Martin to pit again. When he returned to the field he was two laps down and in 32nd position. He was able to gain a couple more positions and retain his second place standing in the points.

THE CAR

Chassis No. (RRC-100) - It is the same car that Martin ran at the spring Talladega race where He finished 26th despite getting caught up in an early accident. The car posted a 14th-place finish at the Daytona Twin 125's but was severely damaged in a late accident and did not run in the Daytona 500.

MARK MARTIN - FAST FACTS - TALLADEGA

  • Mark Martin's pace in the 1997 Winston 500 at Talladega set an all-time NASCAR WC 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 recent rash of bad luck at Talladega, Martin has scored top 10 finishes in four of his last seven races at Talladega.
  • Martin's 31 top-10 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.

QUOTING MARK MARTIN AND BEN LESLIE

Mark Martin on Racing at Talladega:

"It's a really exciting race for the fans. I know if I was a fan at home watching I'd be glued to the TV, but for the drivers it's tough because so much is out of your control. I've said before, it's 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. We've had some really good runs there over the years and we've gotten caught up in a lot of wrecks, so it's a lot like rolling the dice."

No.6 Crew Chief Ben Leslie on Racing at Talladega:

"We are taking the same car that we ran there in the spring, and despite the fact it got torn up a bit in the big accident, it was still pretty fast. We qualified well with it and were happy with what it did in practice and during the race. Hopefully we can build on that this weekend and move forward with a good finish."


Mark Martin Dover Race Recap
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagraģ Racing Team
MBNA America 400/September 21, 2003
Roush Racing

DOVER, Del. (Sept. 21, 2003) Ė Mark Martin and the Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Racing team had a fast car for Sundayís MBNA American 400 at Dover International Raceway, but once again the No. 6 team would fall victim to bad luck. The bad news in Sundayís race was that Martin would finish 22nd and two laps down. The encouraging factor to be taken from the race was that Martin had one of - if not the Ė fastest cars on the track for much of the day.

Martin was loose early, cutting a tire and dropping all the way to 35th place before having to come into the pits to change tires. By the time the No. 6 car returned to the track Martin was running in last place at 43rd. Martin and the team would have their work cut out for them at that point, but in the end they would answer the challenge.

ďWe had a good car today,Ē said crew chief Ben Leslie. ďWe just had a bad break that went against us early. I believe that the right front tire was going down early and that hurt the carís performance. By the time we realized it and came into the pits, we were in last place and three laps down. Still, in the end we had one of the fastest cars on the track for a lot of the day.Ē

ďThis was a solid effort by the Viagraģ Team,Ē said Martin. ďWe got down early, but we didnít give up. The car was fast and the guys had a great effort in the pits and we were able to make something out of nothing. At one point we were last, but we didnít give up.Ē

Martin started the race 16th on points, after Fridayís qualifying was cancelled due to the threat of Hurricane Isabel. Several teams had complained about debris on the track for several laps early, and Martin was one of a hand full of drivers to cut a tire early, despite the fact that caution was never issued. After coming in to change the tire on lap 42, the No. 6 Viagraģ Ford was running in the back of the field.

In addition, NASCARís most recent rule of no racing back to the caution, would make it that much more difficult for Martin to work his way up the field. The team used a caution on lap 79 to come into the pits, take four tires and add a spring rubber to tighten the carís handling. When the field went green Martin was running in 37th place.

The team made additional wedge adjustments under caution on lap 167 and returned to the field in 35th place. By lap 227 Martin had moved all the way up to 28th place and was the fastest car on the track. After a caution on lap 235, the team came into the pits for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. A quick stop of 14.80 helped Martin return to the field in 26th place, the first car on his lap, when the race went green.

Martin continued to run the fastest times on the track for much of the race. A 14.40-second pit stop under caution on lap 290 helped move the No. 6 Ford Taurus into 24th place. Martin would continue to run fast lap times, while passing several car on the lead lap and moving up two more positions before the raceís end. Another quick stop of 14.830 seconds helped advance Martin to 23rd on the teamís final stop on lap 367.

ďWe were really fast there in the end,Ē said Martin. ďThe car would get loose on old tires, but it was pretty good once I got a handle on it. The guys did a wonderful job today. They gave me a fast car and they did a great job in the pits.ď


Drivers Sound Off On Racing Back To Yellow
fordracing.com
September 20, 2003

Dover, Del. ó NASCAR announced new rules this morning regarding the practice of racing back to the yellow caution flag and entering pit road. Ford driver Mark Martin commented about the changes immediately following the meeting.

MARK MARTIN - NO. 6 VIAGRA TAURUS

"It's OK. This is gonna be different, but it's gonna be alright."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE FIRST CAR BEING A LAP DOWN BEING ABLE TO GET ITS LAP BACK?

"It's too early to tell. I don't disagree with it yet. We'll have to try the formula and see how it works and then they'll adjust things if it needs to be adjusted. So far it seems to be well thought out."

IS IT A SHAME THAT IT'S GOTTEN TO THE POINT WHERE NASCAR HAD TO JUMP IN AND MAKE A RULE?

"Yeah, it is because it's gonna create some other problems. It's gonna fix a lot of things, but it's gonna create a few new problems. It's a shame that this is gonna be less and less gentlemanly and honorable as we go forward. That kind of stuff has kind of brought this thing to a head and it's gonna continue to get worse. It even puts the guys who have a good honor system in a position where they can't afford to be as honorable and respectful. It's gonna become more and more dog-eat-dog as we go forward and it already has. It's dramatically changed in that direction the last year and it's gonna continue."

WHAT ABOUT THE PIT ROAD RULE?

"There are no drawbacks to that. There won't be any backlash or drawbacks to that, but lapped cars and not racing back to the caution opens up a new set of problems. There aren't as many as we had with the other system, but it's gonna take some time to get this all sorted out."


2003 Mark Martin MBNA America 400 Track Notes For September 21, 2003
Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
MBNA America 400/Dover International Speedway
Roush Racing and Compiled Information
September 17, 2003

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

LAST YEAR'S WINNER AT DOVER - 2002

Johnson became the first rookie in Winston Cup history to sweep two races at the same track when he won the MBNA All American Heroes 400 at Dover. Johnson also became the second driver to win three races in his first year.

MARK MARTIN - LAST YEAR AT DOVER - 2002

RACE #28, SEPTEMBER 22 - Dover International Speedway
MBNA American Heroes 400 - Started 32nd, Finished 2nd

The team missed the setup for qualifying and had to start a dismal 32nd. However the car was strong and by happy hour on Saturday, the Viagraģ Ford Taurus was the fourth fastest car on the board. The team used a two-tire stop strategy on lap 53, to move from 21st to third. The move worked, as Martin was able to move up with the race leaders and avoid a wreck that happened in the back of the field just moments later. By lap 372 Martin had moved to second place, where he made a couple of strong runs at the leader, before settling for the second place finish, and retaining the point's lead.

MARK MARTIN FAST FACTS - DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

  • Mark Martin holds the 400-mile race record at Dover with an average speed of 132.719 mph, set on September 21, 1997.
  • Martin won three consecutive fall races at Dover from 1997 Ė 1999.
  • Martin leads all other active drivers with 15 top-five finishes at Dover.
  • Martin has posted 20 top-10 finishes, including three victories, in 34 races at Dover.
  • The Viagra Racing team will take MMR-15 to Dover this weekend. They tested this car at Kentucky earlier this week.

QUOTING MARK MARTIN AND BEN LESLIE

Mark Martin on Dover:

ďIíve always enjoyed racing at Dover. Weíve had a lot of success there, but not a lot lately. It will be an interesting weekend between the weather and the racing. We really need to qualify better than we did in June and I think that will help us out a lot for the race. There are usually a lot of accidents in the middle and back of the pack, so that is not where you want to be.Ē

Crew Chief Ben Leslie on Dover:

ďWe should have a good car for Mark this weekend at Dover. We tested it at Kentucky on Tuesday and decided this was the car we needed to bring to Dover. We had a tough race in June so hopefully we can make up for that. Mark has a great history at Dover and weíre working really hard to make sure that continues.Ē


Mark Martin Sylvania 300 Race Recap
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagraģ Racing Team
Sylvania 300/September 14, 2003
Roush Racing

LOUDON, N.H. (Sept. 14, 2003) Ė Mark Martin and the Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Racing team ran to a 28th-place finish in Sundayís Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Martin made his landmark 500th consecutive Winston Cup start at the race, a streak that dates back to Feb. 18, 1988 and is the third longest current streak in NASCAR. The team ran a special gold paint scheme commemorating the event.

However, despite the occasion, Martin struggled for the majority of the race as the team was never able to find the right combination of handling and speed. Midway through the race Martin radioed the car was handling better, but that he was struggling to run off the corners as fast as the carís around him. In the end, the team was never able to find the proper adjustment to make the car faster.

With the car loose, Martin battled for several laps to remain on the lead lap. The team came into the pits on lap 81 to take four fresh tires, take on fuel and attempt to tighten the car by taking wedge out. The move worked for the short term, but Martin eventually succumbed to lead traffic and fell off the lead lap on lap 103. Martin was never able to gain his lap back.

The team continued to work on the car, making several adjustments, including additional wedge adjustments and adding a spring rubber, during a series of pit stops under various cautions. The team took four tires and made a track bar adjustment on lap 128. On lap 162 Martin entered the pits again for four tires, to take three rounds of wedge out and add a spring rubber to the right rear. He returned to the field in 31st place and the sixth car one lap down.

Eventually the carís times became more competitive, and by lap 198 Martin had moved the field to 27th place Ė the second car one lap down. However during a long green-flag run, Martinís lap times slowed and eventually he lost another lap. The team would go on to finish 28th, two laps down to the leader.

The Viagraģ Racing Team returns to action next week at Dover Raceway.


Sage Veteran Martin's Sunday Milestone
fordracing.com
September 13, 2003

ROUSH DRIVERíS 500TH CONSECUTIVE WC START COMES AT N.C.

Loudon, N.H. ó Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, will be making his 500th consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup start in tomorrowís Sylvania 300. Martin held a Q&A session this morning in the New Hampshire International Speedway infield media center to discuss the streak and other issues.

HOW HAS YOUR WEEKEND BEEN?

"Well, Iíve got a pretty car (laughter). Weíre gonna be starting pretty far back, but weíre pretty anxious to get started here with Happy Hour and work on this thing a little bit and see if we can get it tuned in. We made a couple of mistakes yesterday and with the competition the way it is, that kind of put us back a little bit. A lot of times you can run a different strategy if you start toward the back and sometimes it plays in your favor. A lot of times if you get caught just around 10th to 15th, you sort of have to play guard on what youíre doing and that winds up putting you behind. Youíre able to make some gambles and do some different things when youíre further back that actually put you in better standing. Weíve got a great race team. Weíre looking pretty sporty on pit road these days, so weíre gonna buckle down and go after Ďem tomorrow."

WHATíS YOUR TAKE ON THE EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITY GOING ON THESE DAYS?

"Thereís enough of it going on right now that it feels like itís not containable to me. It looks like things have changed (laughter). It looks like things are gonna be different in NASCAR racing going forward. Maybe not, but I will say this. Every week these younger guys are experiencing things that many of them will look deep inside and say, ĎI wonít do that again.í They have to do that. Everyone canít be like Matt Kenseth and already know without having to make big mistakes. I made mistakes earlier in my career. I still make mistakes, but I made more then and I guess thatís my point. We have a lot of young incredibly talented drivers in this sport right now and you have to give them the opportunity to experience things. All of that experience molds them into the people that they will be 15 years from now and the drivers that theyíll be. Iím neither defending or criticizing. Iím just trying to bring up a fact that instead of everybody just flipping out because things are a little bit different, you do have to put it in perspective. We have a major influx of incredible young talent with great cars and great opportunities, so the spotlight is on them and theyíre gaining their life lessons week-in and week-out out there."

IS THERE ANYTHING THE FIRST-PLACE GUY CAN DO TO ELIMINATE THE SHORT TRACK BUMP-AND-RUN?

"Thatís difficult for me to really comment on right now because it appears to be a different age, today. Maybe not, I donít know. All I know is that everyone has a driving personality and everyone has a particular code they go by. Iíve had a code all through my career and my code has garnered respect on the race track. I canít think of a time that I got a race stolen from me by the bumper. Maybe Iíve been lucky, I donít know. Iím really grateful for the success that Iíve had and the wins that Iíve had, but Iím not sure how to comment on what is today and whatís going forward. Iím like you guys. Itís like, ĎWhoa, this looks different than it has been in the past.í For example, Dale Earnhardt had his code and his code was different than my code, but I didnít really criticize him for his code because typically if he got it back heíd say, ĎWell, I got the short end that day, but there will be next week.í The code that I disagree with is itís racing when you give it, but if you get it something really bad happened. Now that code, I donít like. I donít criticize someone for having a different code than me as long as they live by it and accept the consequences."

DO YOU HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR CODE TO COMPETE?

"I think in respect to giving laps back or hurrying back up to the start-finish line when the caution comes out, these kind of things, I think the days of how we handled those situations are over, with based on some people not observing the way it had been done forever in NASCAR. But I donít think the part on the race track, I donít see that changing that much. Everyone out there has different levels of respect for different people. Believe it or not, drivers race different drivers differently based on the respect level they have for those guys. That may not always be right, but that is a fact. Just for example, I race this guy different than I race that guy based on our history. I think that goes on out there. I donít think I really have to change my code, but I will say that the other young drivers coming in are faced with a challenge to some degree, but itís not really as major as you think. If you have a fast car and you use your head and do the right things with it, you will prevail. You donít have to prevail by stooping to another guyís tactics. You can do it the way you want to do it."

IS THERE SOMETHING BEYOND YOUTHFUL ENTHUSIASM GOING ON HERE AND IS THERE IRONY IN TERMS OF THIS BEING GOOD FOR THE SPORT?

"Fans have always loved to have someone to pull for Ė an underdog or a good guy. Theyíve always loved to really hate somebody. That goes probably way beyond me. It looked like maybe they loved to hate Darrell Waltrip Ė maybe. I was just getting in when that was going on, so Iím not sure. There were a portion of the fans that loved to hate Dale Earnhardt and all the rest of them loved him. There wasnít any in between on that particular guy. He was different than any other driver that I have seen, where everyone was on one side or the other. If you look at it and you say, ĎWell, this is stirring up the fans and itís bringing attention to the sport,í I will say one thing. I was offended when Jimmy Vasser made the WWF comment about NASCAR and I guess Iím embarrassed now that I was offended about that because I guess heís smarter than I am. He saw it long before I did, but thereís a certain amount of entertainment that goes on here and that is part of it. I donít like it. I donít agree with it, and I donít think that we have to endorse that in order for our sport to grow and be successful. But there is a certain amount of fans loving that and having a good guy and a not-so-good guy to pull for or pull against. It adds interest. I still think itís about racing. I think thatís what itís about. I donít think this is really about putting on a show or entertainment or anything else. To me, Iím a hardcore racer and itís about the race, but this thing has really grown and changed a lot over the years."

WAS THERE A DAY WHEN YOU WERE PUSHED IN YOUR EARLY DAYS AND HAD TO STAND UP FOR YOURSELF?

"Dale Earnhardt tested me for fun. It was entertainment for Dale. He wanted to see what I would do because Dale was that kind of guy. I took it for just a little bit and then I had to stand up to him, but I did it differently than Geoff Bodine did. Sparks flew every time those guys got within a quarter of a mile of each other, whereas I handled my deal with Dale differently and nobody really noticed it Ė except maybe the crews. I earned his respect and we went on, but there was a period of time when he wanted to see what I was made of and how I would react, and I guess I reacted in a way that he could respect and some other didnít. The ones that didnít, he just continually kept on and sparks flew."

YOU DISCOVERED MATT KENSETH. HOW PROUD AND HAPPY ARE YOU TO SEE HIM WHERE HE IS NOW?

"I appreciate the comment, but I really didnít discover Matt Kenseth. I am very proud of him. I have very, very little to do with his success Ė Matt Kenseth and Robbie Reiser do. All of the credit for the success that theyíve had Ė and they would have had their success whether I would have been in the picture or not 100 percent. I just canít take any credit for the success theyíre having."

DO YOU SEE MATT BEING A LOT LIKE YOURSELF ON THE TRACK?

"Yes I do. That was one of the things that I really liked about Matt. He knew race cars himself. He know how to make Ďem go fast without anyoneís help. He could build a car with his own hands, take it to the race track and run up front with it. He was a tremendous driver as well and he didnít have a huge ego and he drove by a code that was reasonable to me. Mattís code may be more aggressive than mine, but itís certainly tame compared to some. Yeah, I really, really admire Matt Kenseth. Heís a very, very smart man. I like the way he handles his business. I like the way he handles his team. I like the way he drives. There isnít anything about him that I donít admire."

WHAT, IN YOUR MIND, IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOW SOME OF THE YOUNG GUYS HANDLE THINGS TODAY VERSUS DALE EARNHARDT?

"Dale Earnhardt handled his off-track business way different. On track, everybody knows that history. But if everybody looks back, Dale handled his off-track business quite a bit differently. Iím not sure Dale was as young as those guys, though. Dale might have been a little bit older when he was in a top Winston Cup ride, Iím not sure. Like I say, these guys on the race track are getting life lessons every single week. Once again, Iím bringing up the point and a fact. Iím neither criticizing or defending, Iím just saying you have to be fair and look at the situation. Some of these situations are the first time these guys have ever faced that particular situation and theyíre learning how theyíre gonna deal with those in the future."

WHAT IS THE RIGHT WAY TO HANDLE THESE DIFFERENCES?

"I donít know how to answer that. I donít know what is right. Iím not nearly that smart. There are a lot of emotions involved in this and I canít speak for anyone else, but I know if I showed my tail I would be embarrassed about it afterwards. I canít speak for anyone else, but what that tells me is if I can do my best to not show it until I get my wits about me, then I would be better off. But I canít speak for anyone else. I just know instead of making a huge scene, a small private scene would be much better for me (laughter)."

WHAT IS YOUR OWN VIEW ON WHAT YOU WOULD DO?

"Itís hard for me to say about that because, really, I havenít experienced that as much as some of these other guys. Iíve had some huge disappointments in my career, but Iíve managed to handle my deal in a less public way and think through what happens a little bit more and thatís always been better for me. If I can think through it before I did it, itís always been much better. I do think that would help. I think that helps anybody. If they take the opportunity to think through it without the raging emotions, then they would be better equipped to deal with the situation."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT 500 STRAIGHT STARTS? WHATíS THE KEY?

ďI ran good enough to keep a job, number one. Number two, I was fortunate enough, Iím not gonna say to not get injured, but at least I was fortunate enough to drive injured and sick and with the death in my family Ė all these things. Those were all keys. I raced when there was death in the family. I raced when I was sick, and I raced when I was broken up, and I kept a job. Keeping the job is first."

IS THE NUMBER 500 IMPORTANT?

"No, I donít think thatís real important. Itís certainly not as important as going fast on the race track, to me. Itís a big deal, but itís a big deal in a much different way than how many races you won or how many poles you won or anything like that. Itís a different kind of accomplishment than a high-performance kind of accomplishment. Iím real grateful to Jack Roush because that streak is solely on Jack Roushís back. It didnít start prior to Jack Roush, it started with Jack and it is an accomplishment in its own right. Itís not just something that just everybody does."

DO YOU THINK 500 STARTS WILL BE SEEN LESS AND LESS BECAUSE WITH ALL THE MONEY IN THE SPORT THE YOUNGER GUYS OF TODAY WILL GET OUT EARLIER?

"Yes, I do. I donít think theyíll be getting out because there is more money in the sport, I think theyíll be burned out. This sport is much more demanding now than it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago. The reason Harry Gant made it to 54 years old was because he got a late start, in my opinion. He didnít start young. He didnít start when he was 18. So, I think because of the demand that NASCAR Winston Cup racing puts on the drivers and the crews, that it will all be edging toward younger starts and retirements going into the future Ė not just dramatic change in 2003 or 2004, obviously. But as we press on into the future, itís definitely gonna be a young manís sport. Itís very demanding on the crews as well and I thing the crews are certainly younger than they were 10 years ago on average."

IS THERE A CONCERN THAT SOME TEAMS MIGHT BE GOING TOO FAR AND USING TRACTION CONTROL?

"I have absolutely no concern at all that anyone is using traction control. If they are, Iím real naÔve. John Darby has done an incredible job. I knew John was gonna be really, really fair from working in Busch with him. I also knew the teams were gonna take a little bit of time to get used to him, but the good thing was it was gonna be very black and white Ė it was gonna be very fair, above aboard. You knew what you had and you could take it at face value. John has done a great job. There are way too many rules and I donít know what we do about that. There are way too many rules, way too many. Man, itís unbelievable, but you canít just drop them. You canít just say, ĎOK, weíre just gonna quit checking 50 things because then things go crazy.í But racing was so much simpler 10 years ago when you didnít have to deal with all that. We got another new rule this week. Now we go through tech with the shocks unhooked, which changes everything, again. Now inspection takes even longer. Pretty soon inspection is gonna take as long for here as it does at Daytona or Talladega five or 10 years from now. I donít know what the answer is for all that because I know you canít just start dropping all these rules, but we do have too many and it takes too long to tech the cars. The creativity that was there for the racers 10 years ago is gone. I mean, I used to be able to figure stuff out and just go get the hammer. You could figure something new out and go win four races in a row."

CAN YOU GIVE AN EXAMPLE?

"You canít beat anybody on shocks anymore. They take your shocks apart and show Ďem to everybody. Now you go though tech with the shocks unhooked. You canít do the things we were doing with shocks Ė and a bunch of other teams. You canít beat anybody on aerodynamics because every quarter of an inch is checked with a template. You canít figure something special out there over the competition. There never really was anything special in the chassis that you could do or the suspension. Weíre very confined and now weíve got guys that are way smarter than the drivers and really even smarter than the crew chiefs. Theyíre the ones that are pioneering any possible new ideas, instead of the drivers and the crew chiefs being the ones coming up with these new ideas that give you a competitive advantage. I donít see that anymore. I see the engineers bringing the few little tidbits to the table. I see more of that,

ARE YOU SURPRISED ABOUT THE ENGINEERS AND HAVE THEY CHANGED THE WHOLE DYNAMIC OF THE SPORT?

"Yeah and this is important for you guys because youíre all writing and conveying this information to our fans. The engineers 10 years ago that were in our sport Ė and every team didnít have one Ė but Jack Roush has an engineering background and was always happy to give us access to an engineer. He thought it would and would like to see it and many other teams. For example, Hendrick had a number of engineers over there in the early nineties and it was thought to be kind of funny because they were unable to help the teams at that time. The way we tried to use the engineers in the early nineties, they were unable to help the teams go better. They had these ideas, but none of the ideas never seemed to work. It took a long time to figure out how to integrate engineering with NASCAR racing, I think. But once that started to happen and once there became so many rules that all 43 cars in the garage had the same stuff. Now figuring out how to integrate that engineering degree with aerodynamics, with shock absorbers, with many other aspects of what we do became very useful. Now that every team is using engineers and have been for a few years, theyíve figured out how to really bring stuff to the table and work with the teams. But initially we were much happier if we could get our engineer to go away. Iím talking about 10 years ago, donít get me wrong, but I didnít see any race team benefiting. They were always more like us, trying to get Ďem to go away at the time. But the racing has changed so much and the cars have changed and the rules have changed and theyíve been around long enough that theyíve also figured out how to work as a very important part of the team and bring things to the table."

WHAT WILL YOU EMOTIONS BE FOR JACK IF MATT WINS THE CHAMPIONSHIP?

"Iím gonna be happy for Jack. Iíve known that he was gonna get a Winston Cup championship for quite some time. I had hoped that Iíd be able to bring that to him, but I havenít managed to do that. Heís a winner and he deserves it. Iím gonna be very happy for him. Jack and I both have a whole lot the same view of a Winston Cup championship right now and that is itís not gonna change Jack Roushís life that much. I think youíve seen that from some of his comments and it wouldnít change mine either. So, to me, I value my relationship Ė whatís in between he and I Ė much more than him having that trophy. Iím happy for him and I want him to get it. I know heís gonna get it and Iíve known for quite some time that it was gonna come and Iím happy for him for that. He deserves it. Itís taken a long time and heís worked really hard. He lives for racing. Thatís all he thinks about and heís done it for a long, long time and thatís the kind of dedication that it takes to get there. Some people have gotten there much quicker than Jack and Iíll be glad to see that happen for him. I really will."


Mark Martin to Make 500th Straight Start
By Mike Harris
AP Motorsports Writer
September 13, 2003

LOUDON, N.H. (AP) -- Mark Martin is wondering what all the fuss is about. After all, he's just doing his job.

Martin will be making his 500th consecutive Winston Cup start in Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, a streak that dates to Feb. 14, 1988.

Considering he enters this race 14th in the season points and without a victory since May 2002 in Charlotte, Martin is a little surprised to find himself the center of attention.

"This is what I do for a living," Martin said. "We've had a lot of success and a lot of heartache, but I've had an opportunity to live out my dreams - and not a lot of people get to do that."

Martin will start 33rd in Sunday's 43-car field, well behind pole-winner Ryan Newman and fellow front-row starter Terry Labonte.

Martin ran his first Winston Cup race in 1981 and struggled to find a home in NASCAR's top stock car series, racing only sporadically and failing to establish himself in the sport until he was hired in 1988 by Jack Roush.

Since then, the diminutive driver from Arkansas has been a constant.

"I raced when there was a death in my family; I raced when I was sick; and I raced when I was broken up, and I kept a job," Martin said. "Keeping the job is first."

Only Ricky Rudd, who will start his 707th consecutive race on Sunday, and Rusty Wallace, who will start his 616th straight, are ahead of Martin among active drivers. Martin's streak is seventh on the career list.

During his long run with Roush, Martin has won 33 races and finished second in the series points four times, including last year when he lost the title to Tony Stewart by just 38 points.

"He eats, sleeps and breathes racing, and that dedication and hard work shows in everything he does," said Roush Racing teammate Jeff Burton.

The unassuming Martin has built a reputation for being a great competitor who rarely gets involved in controversy, on or off the track.

That's in direct contrast to some drivers in the newest generation of Winston Cup competitors whose aggressive style of racing and penchant for post-race confrontations have kept them in the headlines.

"All I know is that everyone has a driving personality and everyone has a particular code they go by," Martin said. "I've had a code all through my career and my code has garnered respect on the racetrack."

He said the kind of racing that has drivers knocking each other into the wall to make a pass isn't new to the sport - it's just more common.

"It's like, `Whoa, this looks different than it has been in the past,' " Martin said.

He pointed to some battles he had early in his career with seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt, known as The Intimidator.

"Dale Earnhardt's code was different than mine, but I didn't criticize him for it because, typically, if he got it back he'd say, `Well, I got the short end that day, but there will be next week.'

"The code I disagree with is it's racing when you give it but, if you get it, something really bad happened. ... I don't criticize someone for having a different code than me as long as they live by it and accept the consequences."

Martin said he expects the youngsters to outgrow the shenanigans.

"Those guys, on the racetrack, are getting life lessons every single week," Martin said. "Some of these situations are the first time these guys have ever faced that particular situation and they're learning how they're going to deal with those in the future."

But the veteran racer said he doesn't expect many of the newcomers to be around for 500 races, let alone 500 in a row.

"I don't think they'll be getting out because there is more money in the sport; I think they'll be burned out," Martin said. "This sport is much more demanding than it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago. ... I think because of the demand that NASCAR Winston Cup racing puts on the drivers and the crews that it will all be edging toward younger starts and retirements. ... It's definitely going to be a young man's sport."


2003 Mark Martin Sylvania 300 Track Notes - September 14, 2003
Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
Sylvania 300 - New Hampshire International Speedway
Roush Racing & Compiled Info
September 10, 2003

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

2002 WINNER: Ryan Newman

After consecutive second-place finishes the previous two weeks, Newman finally won for the first time, at the rain-shortened New Hampshire 300. The caution flag came out on lap 199 before NASCAR officials ended the race eight laps later.

MARK MARTIN - 2002: RACE #27, SEPTEMBER 15 - New Hampshire International Speedway
New Hampshire 300 - Started 7th, Finished 16th

Rain was a factor all weekend, delaying qualifying by three hours on Sunday, and forcing the race's premature end on lap 207. Rain also forced the race to be red flagged after only 22 laps. Martin's car was good off the truck and in qualifying. The car was top-10 all day and was running in seventh place when the right-rear tire went flat on lap 146. Martin managed to keep the car out of the wall and was able to come in and change the tire. He returned to the field in 33rd place, but was able to work his way back up to 16th when rain began to fall again, forcing the races early end. With the finish, Martin assumed the points lead for the first time since the 2000 season.

MARK MARTIN TO MAKE 500TH CONSECTUTIVE START IN LOUDON

Martin and the Viagra Racing Team move to Loudon this week where Martin will make his 500th consecutive Winston Cup start. The streak is the third longest current streak and the seventh longest ever. Martin's run dates back to the Daytona 500 on Feb. 14, 1988.

SPECIAL PAINT SCHEME

In honor of Martin's 500th consecutive start, the No. 6 Viagraģ Racing Team will run a special gold paint scheme this weekend. The scheme will also honor Major League Baseball star Rafael Palmeiro's feat of 500 home runs.

IN THE POINTS

Martin moved up one place to 14th in the Winston Cup point standings. He is currently 218 points outside of 10th place.

THE CAR

The Viagraģ Racing Team will take RRC-99 to Loudon. RRC-99 made its first and only run early this season at Martinsville where it finished 17th.

ON LOUDON

This will be Martin's 18th race at the 1.058-mile track. Martin finished inside the top 10 in 10 of his first 12 races at Loudon, but has finished 16th or worse in four of the last five. Overall, Martin has scored 11 top-10 and seven top-five finishes there. He has finished second on three separate occasions. Martin has two poles there, including the first ever Winston Cup pole at Loudon. Last year Martin left Loudon with the Winston Cup points lead, after finishing 16th in a rain-shortened event.

DID YOU KNOW?

Martin's streak is currently the third longest in Winston Cup racing, behind only Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace. It is also currently the seventh longest in NASCAR history.

MARK MARTIN FACTS - NEW HAMPSHIRE INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

  • Martin won the first NASCAR Winston Cup Bud Pole at New Hampshire in July 1993.
  • Martin has 11 top-10 finishes at New Hampshire.
  • Martin has finished second at New Hampshire on three different occasions.
  • Martin has four top-10 finishes in the past eight races at Loudon, despite finishing 16th or worse in four of the past five races.
  • Martin has finished inside the top 10 in eight of the last 13 races at Loudon.
  • Martin took the Winston Cup points lead a year ago, after finishing 16th in this race.
  • Martin will start his 500th consecutive Winston Cup race this week at Loudon.

QUOTING MARK MARTIN AND BEN LESLIE

Mark Martin on New Hampshire:

"I can't think of a more challenging track that we race at, but like anywhere else you just have to be able to handle there. There will be all kinds of issues that might come up, but handling will overcome most of them. We've run well there over the years, but we've struggled the last few times. We need a good run and I can't think of a better time to have one."

Mark Martin on 500th Start:

"I remember growing up in Arkansas and thinking that NASCAR was the coolest thing in the world and it was my dream to get there. I've been able to live out my dreams and that means a lot to me. We've had a lot of highs and a lot of lows over the years, but I'll always be thankful for having had the opportunity to live out those dreams."

Crew Chief Ben Leslie on New Hampshire:

"Mark is making his 500th consecutive start, and hopefully we can bring him home a top finish. Loudon's a tough track and we've struggled there at times, but I'm confident that we'll be competitive there this weekend. The guys on the team have continued to do a great job and they deserve a solid finish for all of their work."


Martin's Streak the Seventh Longest in Cup History, Third Longest Current Streak
Viagra Racing Team to Run Special Paint Scheme Loudon commemorating Martin's 500th consecutive start
Roush Racing

CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 8, 2003) - Mark Martin will make his 500th consecutive Winston Cup start this week at Loudon. The run is the third longest current streak in Winston Cup and the seventh longest of all-time.

Martin ran his first Winston Cup race in 1981, when he ran five races, while winning two poles. The following year he ran a full season in 1982. Failing to find adequate sponsorship, Martin ran only a handful of races from 1983-87, before hooking up with Jack Roush in 1988 to form what would become one of the most successful teams in NASCAR.

MARK MARTIN ON HIS 500TH CONSECUTIVE START

"I'm really thankful for what I have and the time that I've had and the success that I've had. The fact that I've been able to do this, actually says a lot about the people around me over the years that worked really hard to make that possible. Jack (Roush) basically gave me a second chance and the opportunity to pursue my dreams, and we have been doing that ever since."

"It's (the steak) a pretty good accomplishment. It would be a lot longer if I had stayed in from the beginning. I started in 1981 and then ran a full season in 1982. I missed '83-87, but if I had kept a job at that time I would have had a really large number. Still it has been really rewarding and I've experienced so much."

"As far as the streak, I've been really fortunate about not having to miss a race, or even need relief in that period of time. Thankfully I've been able to drive my car every week since it all started."

"There are a lot of things that stand out. Perhaps the biggest thing is my relationship with Jack Roush over the years and how it has grown and changed over time. We've been through it all together, the agonizing disappointments and the highest of highs that we have had."

"I'm not complaining at all. Some of the high points that I've had in my life shouldn't even be allowed. I've had the good fortune of winning a lot of races and a lot of trophies. For every win there was probably one that got away in the most agonizing way, but that is a part of what has grown the relationship between Jack and myself. We've been through it all together and we have a lot of things to show for it."

"I've realized a dream and not a lot of people get to do that. Growing up in Arkansas, NASCAR racing was the ultimate to me. To have had the opportunity to drive on a competitive level and the good fortune to have experienced a lot of success and win a lot of races, that is more than I could have asked for."


Attention Roush Racing Fans!
From Roush Racing

When Mark Martin takes the green flag at New Hampshire International Speedway on September 14th, it will mark his 500th consecutive start in NASCAR's Winston Cup Series. Team Caliber is celebrating this remarkable achievement with a special line of merchandise, including a hat, t-shirt and a commemorative Team Caliber 1:24 scale die cast. This is a moment you will want to preserve in your collection of racing memorabilia. To order, go to the Team Caliber web site.


Martin Set to Start 500th Consecutive Winston Cup Race at Loudon
Veteran driver's run dates back to Feb. 14, 1988 and is the third longest current streak
Roush Racing

CONCORD, N.C. (Sept. 4, 2003) - On February 14, 1988 a gallon of gas cost 96 cents, the average price of a car was just over $14,000 dollars and a loaf of bread would run you 61 cents. Movie audiences were flocking to the theaters to see just how "Dirty Dancing" was done, Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" made its debut on the charts and the music industry was dominated by hair bands the like of Guns N' Roses and Poison, although "Yo' MTV Raps" did debut that same year. You would be hard pressed to find someone who can guess the number one song in the nation? Answer "Could've Been" by Tiffany. Yes that's Tiffany.

That same day Mark Martin started his first Daytona 500 driving for new NASCAR owner Jack Roush. A humble beginning for a team that would become one of NASCAR's finest, Martin started the race 38th and just 19 laps later exited the race, finishing 41st.

Not exactly a marquee beginning for match that would go on to become one of the finest to ever take to the track in Winston Cup racing.

"We got into the field on time, and that was big because we were a new team and didn't have any points," explains Martin. "There was a big wreck in the 125's and we were in it. We didn't have a back up superspeedway car, so we had to run our Atlanta car in the Daytona 500.

"It made it about 15 laps before we burned the motor up," added Martin.

Bobby Allison would go on to win the race, becoming the oldest driver at 50 years of age to win the Daytona 500. Martin would go on to become a mainstay on the Winston Cup circuit. Since that day big hair bands have faded into extinction along with Tiffany and "Dirty Dancing" is a cable TV classic, best saved for an episode of "I Love the 80's". Martin, on the other hand has reeled off 499 consecutive starts, while compiling 33 Winston Cup victories, 39 poles, 311 top-10 and 201 top-five finishes. He has been a perennial contender for the Winston Cup Championship; boasting four second-place finishes and four more finishes of third. Since 1988, Martin has finished inside the top eight in Winston Cup on 13 of 14 occasions.

This week at Loudon Martin is set to start his 500th consecutive Winston Cup race; a streak that is the third longest current run in NASCAR. It's currently the seventh longest streak in NASCAR history. To put the timeframe in perspective, Ronald Reagan was the president on that day, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures were all the rage and the hottest TV shows in the land were "My Two Dads", "The Hogan Family" and "Empty Nest".

Martin's current teammate Kurt Busch was making his way through grade school in 1988, while Martin forged the waters for what Roush Racing would one day become.

"We won a pole that year and we came really close to winning the race at Bristol," said Martin. "It didn't come easy at first, but we were competitive. The next year was a lot better and it started rolling from there."

"It's been my honor to be with Mark for the duration of this streak of 500 starts," said Jack Roush. "There are certainly times when I wish I could have provided him better equipment or better strategy and better results at times, but overall it has certainly been a good run.

"Mark is a pillar of NASCAR," added Roush. "I'm sure that after he retires one day that his career will be looked at by the historians and the fans as one of the 'greatest' of all-time, regardless. Mark is one of the greatest to drive a racecar and time will show that.

"He has yet to win a Winston Cup championship, but there is still an opportunity for Mark to win a lot more races. We have a great sponsor with Pfizer and Viagraģ and the team is very much behind him, so there is still a lot of racing to be done with Mark."

"We've had a lot of success and a lot of heartache," said Martin. "But I've had the opportunity to live out my dreams and not a lot of people get to do that."


Martin, Viagraģ Racing Team Finish 13th at Richmond
Mark Martin and the #6 Viagraģ Racing Team
Chevy Rock and Roll 400/September 6, 2003
Roush Racing

RICHMOND, VA. (Sept. 7, 2003) Ė Mark Martin and the Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Racing team ran to a 13th-place finish in Saturday nightís Chevy Rock ní Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Martin struggled with a temperamental car for much of the night, before picking up five positions in the last 58 laps of the race for the finish.

"We just didn't run as good as we should,Ē said Martin. ďBut we did a great job with the car, the team and everything, to bring it home in 13th. It was a reasonable finish, for what we had tonight, but know that we need to run better than we did out there tonight.Ē

Martin qualified third on Friday, but started from the inside of the front row after pole-sitter Mike Skinner was forced to start in the back after wrecking his car in happy hour. Martin led the first lap of the race and earned five bonus points. However, the car would struggle at the beginning of runs Ė a problem that would plague the team all night Ė and Martin quickly dropped back to fifth place by lap three. A caution filled race did not play well to the carís needs and Martin would struggle heavily on restarts throughout the race.

The dayís first caution occurred on lap 23 of the race. Martin stayed out, but again the car was sluggish on the restart. By lap 43 the veteran was running in 10th place. However, true to character, the car would hold its own and Martin was still in 10th place when caution was called again on lap 63. The team came into the pits for four tires and returned to the field in 12th place, as a few cars stayed out.

The same dilemma would plague the No. 6 car as the race went green on lap 68, and by lap 78 Martin was in 17th position. The car began to push in the middle and Martin began to experience extreme difficulty in the handling of the Taurus. At one point the car was handling so poorly that Martin thought he might have a flat tire. Things would quickly get worse as Martin radioed to the crew on lap 91 that another car had sprayed oil all over his windshield, severely impairing his vision. With limited vision, Martin quickly fell back to 21st position, but caught a break when caution was issued on lap 94. The team came into the pits, took four tires and pulled the windshield strip.

Several cars did not pit and Martin returned to the field in 24th place when the field went green on lap 112. Martin was having problems getting the car to turn and was running in 22nd place when caution number 6 was called on lap 128. Attempting to improve the car, the team came into the pits to take four tires and lower the track bar. The adjustments were not enough and Martin used caution number seven to come into the pits for four tires and an additional wedge adjustment. A 14.10-second pit stop helped Martin hold position and he returned running in 24th place when the field went green on lap 150.

The car was good on long runs and by lap 176 Martin had worked his way back inside the top 20. The team used a pair of quick stops to further advance up the field. Another 14.10-second stop under caution on lap 196 moved Martin to 18th and a 14.7-second stop on lap 269 advanced the No. 6 into 16th position. The team continued to struggle with the car and Martin fell back to 20th place by lap 320.

Martin used the raceís final 80 laps to advance seven more positions and take home the 13th-place finish.

The team returns to action next week in Loudon, where Martin will be making his 500th consecutive Winston Cup start.


2003 Mark Martin Chevrolet Rock & Roll 400 Track Notes - September 6, 2003
Viagraģ (sildenafil citrate) Roush Racing #6 Ford Taurus
Chevrolet Rock & Roll 400 - Richmond International Raceway
Roush Racing

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

2002 RACE WINNER - Matt Kenseth

Matt Kenseth rallied to win the Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond despite being two laps down after blowing a tire. Kenseth took the lead from polesitter Ryan Newman on lap 293 and went on to his fourth win of the 2002 season.

MARK MARTIN - 2002 RACE

RACE #26, SEPTEMBER 7 - Richmond International Raceway
Chevy Monte Carlo 400 - Started 4th, Finished 6th

The Viagraģ Racing Team was strong the entire weekend, posting fast times right off the truck and running to one of its best qualifying positions of the season; a fourth place starting position. By the final practice on Friday evening, the No. 6 Ford Taurus was running so strong that Martin and the team opted to forgo the final half-hour of the session. Martin avoided several early accidents, and ran in the top 10 for most of the race. The car began to level off late in the race and Martin dropped back to 14th, by lap 290. Martin was able to gain most of the positions back and moved to the sixth-place finish.

THE CAR

The Viagraģ Racing Team will take Chassis RRC-97. This will be the fifth run for RRC-97 in 2003. The car ran to a fifth-place finish at the spring race at Richmond. It also finished fifth at Texas. The car last ran to an 18th place finish at Loudon, where it fell victim to pit sequence. In 2002 the car posted four top-five finishes in five runs. It also finished sixth a year ago at Richmond in the fall.

MARK MARTIN AT RICHMOND

This will be Martinís 37th run at Richmond, where the veteran driver has one victory, 11 top-five finishes and 20 top 10ís. Martin has posted three straight top-six runs at Richmond, and he finished fifth there in the spring. Martin has finished inside the top six in seven of his last 11 races at the ĺ-mile track.

DID YOU KNOW?

Mark Martin earned his first ever Winston Cup top-10 finish in his first Winston Cup race at Richmond in the Wrangler 400 on Sept. 13, 1981, with a seventh place finish. He started the race on the pole, his second career pole in a cup car.

UNDER THE LIGHTS OF RICHMOND

Martin and the Viagraģ Racing Team take to the short track of Richmond International Raceway this Saturday night, looking to reverse their recent fortunes. Martin has gotten caught up in accidents the last two weeks at Bristol and Darlington, despite having strong cars and qualifying inside the top 10.

CLOSING IN ON 500

Richmond will mark Martinís 499th consecutive Winston Cup Race, the third longest running streak of any driver. In honor of the milestone, the team will run a special paint scheme at Loudon to commemorate Martinís 500th consecutive start.

MARK MARTIN FAST FACTS - RICHMOND INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY

QUOTING MARK MARTIN AND BEN LESLIE

Martin on racing at Richmond:

"Richmond is an exciting track and I always enjoy going there to race. We had a good finish there in the spring and we ran well there both times last year. As I recall we had all kinds of problems to work through in the spring with the steering and a flat tire, but we were still good enough to get back to the front. Hopefully we can do that this weekend. I don't know what to say about the luck that we've been having, but we have to believe that if we keep working, that it will get better. The team has worked hard and we've had really good cars the past few weeks. Hopefully this will be the week our finish shows that."

Crew Chief Ben Leslie on racing at Richmond:

"We are taking the same car that we used there in the spring and we had a good run then. It's also the same car that we ran there last year in the spring. We've been pretty good there over the past year or so and we are hoping that we can continue that. The guys are working really hard and Mark has been doing a great job behind the wheel. Or qualifying runs have showed that, although we haven't had a lot of chances to show it during the race. Hopefully we'll get that chance this week."


2003 Mark Martin Articles - January

2003 Mark Martin Articles - February

2003 Mark Martin Articles - March

2003 Mark Martin Articles - April

2003 Mark Martin Articles - May

2003 Mark Martin Articles - June & July

2003 Mark Martin Articles - August

2003 Mark Martin Articles - October

2003 Mark Martin Articles - November

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