Saturday, December 26, 2009

Mark Martin

Mark Anthony Martin was born on January 9th, of 1959 in Batesville, Arkansas. He is currently a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver for Hendrick Motorsports in the #5 Chevrolet Impala sponsored by, Delphi, and CARQUEST. Mark is also a part-time driver in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports. He has also qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup 4 out of the 6 times it has been in existence.

It didn't take Mark Martin long to feel what it's like to win a stock car race. At the age of 15, in 1974, in just his third attempt, Martin won a feature race at a local Arkansas dirt track. He capped off his first season of racing with the Arkansas state championship that year.

After the early success in dirt track racing, in 1976 he moved up to V-8 racing and then moved up again, to asphalt racing, later that season.

By 1977, Martin had ascended to the ASA series, where he battled men like Rusty Wallace, Bobby Allison, Jim Sauter, and Dick Trickle. Martin was named ASA Rookie of the Year in and followed that up with three consecutive ASA titles.

Martin began funding his Cup career out of his own pocket, running five races in 1981 before running a full schedule in 1982. Martin finished 14th in the standings that season with six top-10 finishes.

Unable to keep his team afloat much longer, Martin auctioned off everything in his shop in early 1983 and ran a limited schedule with several owners, including J.D. Stacy, D.K. Ulrich, and Morgan-McClure. In 16 starts that year he had two top-ten finishes.

In 1984, Martin returned to the ASA. He would be teamed with crew chief Jimmy Finnig in 1985 and would win another title in 1986.

Martin's fortunes began to look up in 1987, when he ran his first full Busch (Nationwide) Series schedule for Bruce Lawmaster. His first win ever in NASCAR was at Dover that year; it really did grab the attention of another car owner, Jack Roush who was his spotter that day. Roush was starting his own Cup team and pegged Martin as his driver.

In 1988, Martin began a long relationship with Roush that continued for 19 years, driving the #6 car which was most notably sponsored by Valvoline and Viagra.
In 1990, a 46-point penalty at Richmond for using an illegal (but non-performance enhancing) carburetor spacer caused him to lose to Dale Earnhardt Sr. by 26 points in the final standings.

Martin won five IROC titles in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2005, he also won 13 races, both of which are records for that series.

Martin's father, stepmother, and half-sister died in a plane crash on August 8, 1998 in Nevada near Great Basin National Park.

Martin announced he would retire after the 2005 season, dubbing the season the "Salute to You" tour as a thank you to his fans. In June 2005, it was announced that Jamie McMurray would replace Martin in the #6 car in 2007. This, however, left Roush without a driver for the #6 car in 2006. Martin of course agreed to come back and drive for the 2006 season. Ultimately, it was announced that McMurray would be released from his contract at Chip Ganassi Racing one year early and would take over for Kurt Busch, who left the Roush organization prior to the end of the 2005 season. David Ragan was announced as Martin's replacement in the #6 for 2007.

Martin drove two races for Roush Fenway Racing in the Busch (Nationwide) Series in 2006, and also drove in three races for Hendrick Motorsports, sharing the #5 with Kyle Busch in the Busch (Nationwide) series. On October 6, 2006, it was announced that Martin would split time with current Busch (Nationwide) Series driver Regan Smith in the Ginn Racing #01 U.S. Army Chevrolet in 2007.

Martin finished second in the 2007 Daytona 500, only 0.02 seconds behind Kevin Harvick. Martin had led going into the final lap before Harvick stormed from seventh to win on the outside. There was a major wreck out of turn 4 and there has been much controversy over whether or not the caution flag should have came out, which could have affected the outcome of the race. Normally, the caution flag is shown as soon as a car or more make contact with the wall. Mark led the points up until the Food City 500 at Bristol and became the first driver since Cale Yarborough to skip a race as the leader of the points.

On July 25, 2007, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. announced it had acquired Ginn Racing. Mark Martin would join Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr., and Paul Menard as a driver for DEI starting at the 2007 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. He would share the #01 car with Regan Smith for the rest of the season.

Martin shared the #8 car with Aric Almirola in the 2008 Sprint Cup Series with sponsorship from the U.S. Army, and at the Auto Club 500 he made his 700th career start. On March 1, 2008, Mark Martin won the 2008 Sam's Town 300 driving the #5 Delphi Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. It was Martin's 48th career Nationwide Series win, which is the most of any driver, and JR Motorsports' 1st win. Martin finished out 2008 with 11 top-10s out of the 21 Sprint cup races he was in.

On July 4, 2008, Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick announced that Mark will replace Casey Mears in the #5 car for the 2009 season, running a full-time schedule for the first time since 2006. Martin signed a two-year contract with Hendrick, with a full-time schedule for the 2009 season and will also have a full schedule in the 2010 season.

On April 18, 2009, Mark Martin became the fourth driver to win a Cup race in NASCAR after turning 50, in winning the 2009 Subway Fresh Fit 500 from the pole position. The other three were Bobby Allison, Morgan Shepherd (twice), and Harry Gant (8 times). His win snapped a 97-race winless streak going back to 2005. At Darlington, it was announced after the Richmond race that Martin would drive full time again in 2010; Martin would go on to win the Southern 500. It was his first multiple-win season since 1999. In the 2009 LifeLock 400, Mark Martin won his third race of the season when Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle ran out of fuel in the last two laps.

After being on the Chase bubble for most of the season, Martin qualified for the 2009 Chase as he was in sixth place in the standings following the Chevy Rock & Roll 400. Because he led the Chase drivers in wins with four, the Chase reseeding process moved him up five places and made him the point’s leader.

On September 18 it was announced that would sponsor Martin's #5 for 20 races in 2010 and 2011, and that Martin had signed to drive full time for Hendrick Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series through 2011, two days later he won his fifth race of the year by taking the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire in the first race of the Chase. The win broke Martin's tie with Kyle Busch for the series wins lead and marked the third time in his career that he had won at least five times in a season. Martin extended his lead to 35 points over Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin, who tied for second in the points.

On November 22 he finished 12th at Homestead not enough to prevent Jimmie Johnson from winning the Championship with Martin coming in 2nd place for the fifth time in the Sprint cup series.

Martin currently resides in Port Orange, Florida, with his wife Arlene and five children. Martin is also an avid pilot and flies his personal jet to and from races. He also currently owns two car dealerships. Mark Martin Chevrolet located in Melbourne, Arkansas and another, Mark Martin Ford-Mercury, in Batesville, Arkansas.

Mark is also an avid Christian, going to Bible study weekly. “Being a Christian, there’s so much in the Bible, so many teachings in there about how you should live your life and how you should handle situations,” Mark says. “The cool thing about the Bible is that even though it’s a very old book, it’s still very up to date and teaches you how to handle things today”