NASCAR: Martin eyeing turnaround at Bristol
Associated PressBRISTOL, Tenn. ó The legends of Bristol Motor Speedway came together for a 35-lap charity race around the Tennessee bullring. As a two-time track winner, Mark Martin was certainly qualified to join the action.
Actually, he’s probably overqualified.
Rusty Wallace and Jimmy Spencer, recent NASCAR retirees, both signed up for the chance to mix it up Saturday with old-timers Harry Gant, Junior Johnson and Jack Ingram. And even though partially retired driver Sterling Marlin is driving in both the charity event and the Sprint Cup Series race today, Martin wasn’t interested in a similar double-duty.
At 50 years old, Martin is certainly eligible for a career in exhibition races. But that would be assuming Martin was past his prime, which clearly isn’t true.
He again proved his skill rivals that of drivers half his age by winning the pole for Sunday’s race. It will be the second consecutive race Martin starts from the top spot, marking the first time in 20 years he’s pulled off back-to-back pole-winning runs.
“It’s such a pleasure to drive that car,” Martin said of his Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet. “They’re hitting the race track with great, great setups based on learning about what I like in the race car. We’ve got a great race team.”
He just needs a chance to prove it in the results column.
Martin has had a terrible start to his first season with Hendrick, losing two motors and cutting a tire to plummet to 34th in the standings. It’s an unbelievable string of bad breaks, but fast cars help the pessimistic driver look forward to brighter days.
“It’s no secret that we have not had the best of luck this year, and it’s really nice to come back this week and display speed once again,” he said.