- Did you mean:
Mark Martin tabbed for NMPA Hall of Fame
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Mark Martin , winner of 40 NASCAR premier series races and a runner-up in the championship battle on five occasions, has been selected for induction into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame. Martin , 57, will be inducted Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. He was named on 95 percent of the ballots cast by the NMPA membership. The Batesville, Arkansas, native competed in NASCAR for more than three decades. His 40 career victories currently rank 17th on the all-time list for the series while his 882 career starts rank fifth overall for the sanctioning body's top series. In addition to his premier series efforts, Martin also enjoyed success in NASCAR's lower national series, winning 49 times in what is now the XFINITY Series and seven times in the Camping World Truck Series. He is also a five-time winner of the IROC (International Race of Champions) title. Others receiving votes but falling short of the required 65 percent necessary for induction were veteran crew chiefs Kirk Shelmerdine (61 percent), Buddy Parrott (59 percent) and Larry McReynolds (51 percent); and long-time Martinsville Speedway public relations director Dick Thompson (59 percent). "Those guys are heroes of mine," Martin said of his fellow nominees. "It is just such an incredible honor to be considered along with them. I feel very fortunate and blessed but most of all I'm thankful. Very thankful." Former statistician Bob Latford and driver Dan Gurney were also named as write-in candidates on this year's Hall of Fame ballot. Martin , who retired from competition following the 2013 season, earned 35 premier series wins with team owner Jack Roush. His final five victories came in 2009 after joining Hendrick Motorsports . Alan Gustafson served as crew chief for Kyle Busch , Jeff Gordon and Martin at Hendrick. He is currently the crew chief for 2016 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Chase Elliott . " Mark drove so much by just raw feel," Gustafson said. "His ability just to flat out drive a car, no markers, no signs no nothing, he was really good at that, which produced some amazing lap times. "We've all seen it. Mark Martin , first lap on the track, is just insane. Because he doesn't have to figure out where he's at, he just drives by feel. He was open to working on things and doing things but he just did it a different way than drivers like Jeff and Kyle and Chase." The National Motorsports Press Association was formed more than 50 years ago and its membership consists of motorsports writers, broadcasters and photographers from throughout the U.S. and abroad. The NMPA Hall of Fame, established in 1965, is located on the grounds of Darlington Raceway .
Bubba Wallace gives nod to Mark Martin with Darlington scheme
RELATED: Vote now for your favorite Sprint Cup Darlington scheme BUY TICKETS: Darlington Getting in with the throwback theme for this year's events at Darlington Raceway , Darrell Wallace Jr ., Mark Martin and Roush Fenway Racing unveiled Bubba's No. 6 Ford that pays tribute to the longtime RFR driver. Awesome @TooToughToTame throwback scheme @roushfenway is running with @BubbaWallace . Can't wait for this race. pic.twitter.com/waNTw360q5 — Mark Martin (@markmartin) August 16, 2016 . @markmartin my friend you are right! What a badass @FordPerformance scheme my team and i will run @TooToughToTame ! pic.twitter.com/EHH3eJfbL3 — Darrell Wallace Jr (@BubbaWallace) August 16, 2016 Can’t wait to see @bubbawallace in the ’90 @markmartin scheme @TooToughToTame . Let's put it back in victory lane! pic.twitter.com/fFEzXEp6wr — Ford Performance (@FordPerformance) August 16, 2016 Martin ran the iconic No. 6 Folger's Coffee scheme during the 1990 and 1991 seasons, earning a total of four wins in those two years. Wallace Jr. is one of the first XFINITY Series drivers, along with RFR teammate Ryan Reed , to unveil his look for Darlington, but more than two dozen Sprint Cup Series cars have been revealed. Darlington's throwback program launched last year and is expected to continue for the next several seasons. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Relive Mark Martin's dramatic win at Michigan in 2009
Jimmie Johnson runs out of fuel while leading in the closing laps, then Greg Biffle runs out of fuel on the final lap, opening the door for Mark Martin to win the 2009 LifeLock 400 in a dramatic fuel-mileage win.
4 in a Row: Relive Jeff Gordon's win over Mark Martin in 1998
Watch as Jeff Gordon passes Mark Martin in the Pepsi 400 in 1998 at MIS with 9 laps to go to take home the checkered flag. This victory was Gordon's fourth consecutive win in a season where he went on to win 13 races.
Round of 12 drivers look back on great season
Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Round of 12 drivers, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr, Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott reflect on their season.
Hall of Fame preview: Mark Martin among contenders
RELATED: Meet 2017's nominees " Live stream of reveal, 5 p.m. ET Mark Martin will be one of 20 people considered for induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame when the Voting Panel convenes in Charlotte on Wednesday to determine the 2017 class. (TV coverage: NBCSN, 5 p.m. ET) Three of those on the ballot are former premier series champions -- Red Byron, NASCAR's first Strictly Stock champion in 1949; Benny Parsons, the 1973 winner who went on to enjoy a successful second career in the broadcast booth; and Alan Kulwicki, killed in a plane crash just four-and-a-half months after capturing the 1992 crown. There was no championship trophy for Martin , who retired from competition at the end of the 2013 season. But that doesn't diminish the accomplishments the Batesville, Arkansas, native garnered during a career that spanned more than three decades. Martin , 57, won 40 times in the premier series, with victories coming at 21 different tracks. He finished 10th or better 453 times, in more than half of his 882 career starts. He also won 56 poles. RELATED: Live stream, 5 p.m. ET, Wednesday In the battle for the championship, Martin placed second five times, a mark he shares with current Hall of Fame member Bobby Allison, and he scored 17 top-10 points finishes during his career. "It makes me proud I was able to be as successful as I was and grateful for the opportunities I had," Martin told Little Rock, Arkansas, radio station KABZ-FM recently. "To be real honest I didn't enjoy a … significant part of my career because I was trying so hard to get that championship because I wanted it, and even more than that, the people who supported me wanted it for me so badly. I saw time running out. "I spent too much of my time focused on that and not enjoying the opportunities I had. Today, when I look back on it I wish I hadn't done that." Martin lost the 1990 title by 26 points to Dale Earnhardt and finished second to the Richard Childress Racing driver again four years later. Other runner-up finishes through the years came against Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson . "My life would not be different one bit had I won one of those or not," Martin said. "I had a great career. … I don't think it would have changed a thing in my life had I won one of those trophies. I was very close. I got beat by only four of the greatest of all time in NASCAR in my opinion. … "I'm not embarrassed." Earnhardt was one of five members inducted into the Hall’s inaugural class in 2010. Gordon, a four-time series champion with 93 career victories, retired from driving at the end of 2015 and won't be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration until 2018 and possible induction until '19. Stewart, winner of three premier series titles and co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing , will cease to compete full time in the series following the 2016 season. Johnson is a six-time champion and boasts 77 career wins, including two thus far this season. In addition to his premier series exploits, Martin held the XFINITY Series record for career wins for 14 years and is also a seven-time winner in the Camping World Truck Series. It is his second consecutive appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot. First-year nominees for the 2017 ballot are former Camping World Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday Jr ., team co-owner Jack Roush, driver Ricky Rudd, noted crew chief and engine builder Waddell Wilson and broadcaster Ken Squier. Rounding out the list of nominees are Buddy Baker, Richard Childress, Ray Evernham, Ray Fox, Rick Hendrick, Harry Hyde, Hershel McGriff, Raymond Parks, Larry Phillips, Mike Stefanik and Robert Yates. Also to be determined by the Voting Panel is the 2017 recipient of the Landmark Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to NASCAR. The five nominees are Martinsville Speedway track founder H. Clay Earles, driver Janet Guthrie, team owner Raymond Parks, former RJ Reynolds executive Ralph Seagraves and Squier. The Voting Panel is scheduled to begin the selection process Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. ET at the Charlotte Convention Center. The announcement of those chosen will take place in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Great Hall (5 p.m. ET, NBCSN). NASCAR.com will also live stream the event: You can watch it live here.
Mark Martin will drive pace car before Coca-Cola 600
RELATED: 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class revealed " Event photos Mark Martin 's back in a car this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway -- this time, however, it will be in the pace car. Freshly minted as a selectee in the NASCAR Hall of Fame's Class of 2017, Martin jumped at the opportunity to log laps again before the Coca-Cola 600 -- a race he won in 2002. Martin will lead the field to green for the 57th running of the Coca-Cola 600 and said, "When the speedway called to ask me if I'd do it, my first reaction was 'Hell, yeah!' " "Originally I'd planned to be at Indy, but now I get to do the 'double' in a way, and I can say I'll be driving at Charlotte," Martin said. " Charlotte Motor Speedway was always my favorite race track. I was fortunate enough to have a lot of success there, including winning a Coke 600. Bruton and Marcus always put on a fabulous show, and this will be cool to lead the field to green in front of thousands of fans that I enjoyed racing for all those years." WATCH: Stewart completes Indy-Charlotte 'double' Several drivers, notably including current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competitors Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch , have competed in the Memorial Day Double, racing in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 . Stewart was the first to complete all 1,100 miles in one day in 2001. Martin plans to see the start of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday before heading to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.)
Mark Martin addresses 'Smoke' fill-in rumors
Inside Groove: Racing with an attitude After news broke on Thursday that Tony Stewart would miss the beginning of the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season -- his final full-time run before retirement -- due to severe back injuries, chatter began about who might pilot his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet in the interim. At least we know one driver who won't be putting on a No. 14 firesuit anytime soon -- or any firesuit, really. After giving his fans the subtle hint that he won't be returning to the Daytona 500 , Martin had to firmly clarify what he meant exactly by that confusing two-letter word "no". I don't drive race cars anymore. — Mark Martin (@markmartin) February 4, 2016 But do not fret racing fans, hands are going up for the job.
Despite bumps, Elliott's impressed Gordon, father in rookie season
MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend Bill Elliott remembers the conversations with his son. "I said 'If you want to race, then we'll go race. But if you want to go hang out with your buddies on Saturday night, then you can do that. It's your choice,' " Elliott recalled recently. Chase Elliott wanted to race. He wanted to race small cars and big cars, on dirt and on asphalt. So he did. He raced and he won and he lost and he learned. And in 2016, two years removed from winning NASCAR's XFINITY Series title, the youngster was handed the keys to his future -- the seat in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven at the time by four-time series champion Jeff Gordon . Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) signals the end of the '16 season. Elliott will enter the race 10th in points, having qualified for the championship-determining Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup but falling out of title contention after a difficult second round. There have been "a lot of ups and downs this year," he said. "I think the biggest thing I've seen as I've run throughout this year, and Jeff touched on it as we talked in the offseason, he just kept bragging on this group of guys and how good they were and kept saying, 'Man, you're going to a really good group.' I think you have to see some of those things firsthand to really recognize it and appreciate it and as I've gone through this season I really have. I've got some of the best cars you could have to drive. They make me look a lot better than I am. "Those are the kinds of people you want to be surrounded with if you can do that. I really had nothing to do with the group of people that I was assigned, I was just lucky to fall into place where I did at the time I did. That's been one of my biggest takeaways." "I've had some really good cars to drive and I think having that good relationship with this group and to be able to count on the job that Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) does ... he does an incredible job and doesn't get enough credit; he makes my job as easy as you could have it." Elliott has 10 top fives and 17 top-10 finishes this season and won a pair of poles -- at Daytona's season opener and the unpredictable Talladega. He earned career-best second-place finishes at both Michigan races this year and was third twice in the opening round of the Chase. "I think he's very competitive and in the race car to me he's a veteran," Gordon said. "I know he's beat himself up a few times outside the race car but I like that. That means that second or third is not good enough for him. He's got a bright future." The fact that he was able to qualify for the Chase, Gordon said, wasn't a surprise. Not after Elliott won the XFINITY Series title his first time out while driving for JR Motorsports. Paired with teammates Jimmie Johnson , a six-time series champion, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr ., at HMS, Gordon expected the 20-year-old to excel. "You still never know," Gordon said. "Especially at the Cup level it's very competitive. Not just in the garage level but at Hendrick. To have Jimmie and Kasey and Junior as your teammates, that's going to make you have to step up. But I don't think we would have put him in there if we didn't believe in him. And you know there are going to be some growing pains. I would say there have been far less than I anticipated." Gustafson worked with Kyle Busch , Mark Martin and Gordon at HMS. He said there was never a question of talent when it came to Elliott. But others with talent have come and gone. Younger drivers can go fast but going fast is only part of the equation. Race conditions, passing, altering one's line to adapt to changing track conditions, and the race on an off pit road are additional hurdles to overcome in order to contend. It's what Gustafson refers to as "the art of racing" and said it is something that's "definitely underappreciated" today. "He does that really well," Gustafson said. "Typically in my experience it takes some time to master passing or running in traffic or where you need to move on the track, what you need to do to improve your position. He does a really good job at that. You always can get better -- I think it's something he can learn and change and grow with but I've been pretty impressed with his first year and how he handles all that. "His maturity and mental aptitude and demeanor are pretty far beyond his years. ... Everybody makes mistakes but I think he minimalizes a lot of what you typically see in rookie." LEARNING CURVE Gustafson said Elliott's ability to adapt and digest information quickly when he has struggled in a particular area or at a venue has been impressive. Often, it's the next trip back to that track, or even a year or two, before such improvements bear fruit for a driver. For Elliott, it's sometimes much sooner. Over the course of a weekend in some cases. "It doesn't change through practice but then once he's able to go and digest it, think about it and come back with a game plan ... he attacks it and makes significant improvements," Gustafson said. "It's impressive. I don't know that I've ever worked with a driver that had that ability." The technology available today has been a big help. Elliott will often pour over information gleaned from his teammates while awaiting changes to the car during practice or at day’s end. Where someone brakes in the corner, how fast they pick up the throttle, how much steering they're putting in their car can help when he’s searching for more speed or a better handling ride. And he isn't hesitant to change. The stopwatch doesn't lie, he said. "If the guys have found a way to get you out on the track better for one lap or get you around the race track better for long runs, and that's a proven fact from the stopwatch or tire falloff or whatever data that you can see, then there's no denying that fact," Elliott said. "I think that opens your mind up to try and see what they are doing and how they're going about their job. Amongst our guys or any of the guys in the garage, I just can't see that person X has a car that's that much better than mine. I think you have to recognize that we're in a pretty tight boundary of competition and for you to be way off, well maybe you need to think about how you're driving. Because I know my guys haven't missed it that bad." Gordon, now a FOX NASCAR analyst, says being young or new to the series is a plus; it's easier to absorb the reams of information available without the baggage of preconceived ideas. "You're a sponge," he said, "so you can adapt quickly. "As a team we have to take advantage of that because the longer you go, the harder it is to do that. I think that's one of the things that's made Jimmie so great over all the years is he's been able to do that as well or better than anybody that I know. Someone like Chase, that's as talented and young as he is, I see that in him. That's why I think they've performed consistently very well." Bill Elliott says he tries to look at his son's progression as a driver and not as his son. Either way, he's been impressed with what he's seen. "I think he's done a great job from a driving standpoint," Elliott said. "I really didn't know ... when you come into these deals and you think 'OK, I'm getting in Jeff Gordon 's car and it's already got a pretty good history to it, a damn good history to it, and what are the expectations for a kid that's come in and only run a handful of Cup races prior to this? I've been very impressed." A FAN FAVORITE The elder Elliott won the series' most popular driver award, overseen by the National Motorsports Press Association, a record 16 times. Earnhardt Jr. has won the award the last 13 years. In fact, the award, which has been presented annually since 1953, has gone to someone named Elliott or Earnhardt every year since 1991. Could the younger Elliott be the next in line? He has quickly developed his own following of younger fans while appealing to those who were fans of his father, the 1988 series champion, and to those who were fans of Gordon and the No. 24 team. Voting for this year's MPD award closes Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET. ( www.mostpopulardriver.com ) "The fan base that I acquired the years that I ran was just so phenomenal," Bill Elliott said. "They supported me through thick and thin. I'd fall out of races on some days and there would be fans that would tell me, 'We don't care if you never win another race; we're behind you 100 percent.' To have that kind of following ... I think it just had to do with my background, how I got into the sport, I wasn't part of the established group. I worked hard and tried to do things the right way, which I didn't always do that. But I tried really hard to take care of the race fans because I really respected the fans, whether they were pulling for me or the other drivers. "I think Chase has been very good and very gracious with the fans and he's been able to pick up that group, plus Jeff had a strong fan base. When you've got everything else ... being involved with Dale Jr. on the XFINITY Y side got him exposed to a lot of people. Winning that championship the first year and coming back and finishing second last year, there was a lot going on." Chase Elliott says seeing fans wearing the No. 24 gear carrying his likeness and name wasn't something he was expecting as the year got underway. And while the competition side of the sport is where he's focused, he understands the importance of the fans. "They're what makes it go around," he said. "One thing my dad always touched on was if you're having a bad day or not feeling well, not doing too good, you have to recognize that whether there are two people at an event or 2,000, if you make one person’s day then that goes a long way with that person. Coming from him, I think that's a pretty good word of advice and something to help keep things in perspective." He listens. And he learns. Even if it's sometimes hard to tell. "We were in the shop one day and we were working on the Late Model car," Bill Elliott said. "He asked me how to do something and I told him. Then he argued with me and I told him, 'Well, do it your way.' So there you go. "You know how kids are."
Championship experiences have Johnson at ease for Miami
RELATED: Chase Grid entering Miami " All of Johnson's wins MORE: Buy tickets for Homestead-Miami Championship Weekend Jimmie Johnson might be the most accomplished NASCAR racing champion of his era, but the six-time Sprint Cup champ has also had to be one of its most adaptive. No one in the history of NASCAR has won titles in so many variations of the title Chase – from fluctuating numbers of championship-eligible drivers to navigating a new elimination-style format. And this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Ford EcoBoost 400 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Johnson will go for a record-tying seventh trophy in his first appearance in the three-year old version of the Championship 4. He'll have to best the other three title-eligible drivers Carl Edwards , Joey Logano and Kyle Busch in a one-race showdown. It's a championship scenario like no other for Johnson. "It's definitely different, there's just no way around that," Johnson said with a slight laugh. "The way I've won championships before, it was a 10-race, stressful environment. "The way things unfolded for me this year, I had three stressful races worrying about points. I won Charlotte, had a couple weeks off, then I won Martinsville, had a couple weeks off, and then go back to the stress again. "I think it's different for every driver and every team every year just because you have these little three-race increments to fight through." Yet, listening to the tone of Johnson's voice as he sizes up the newest championship situation, there is an unmistakeable confidence. It comes from owning six of the sport's most coveted trophies already and having now earned a shot of reaching a historical milestone shared only by Hall of Famers Richard Petty and the late Dale Earnhardt. RELATED: How Johnson became 'Six-Time' After clinching the first of the four championship berths for the Homestead-Miami season finale, Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet team have had plenty of time to prepare – mechanically and mentally. And, he insists, there is something to that. "I would have to say yes, there is some advantage to it, but every team works a little differently," Johnson said. "Some teams operate better under pressure, from executing pit calls to driving the car, to pit stops, but this is giving us a bit of time to just focus on Homestead that we wouldn't normally have. "I know from my preparation side, I glanced at my Texas race notes, glanced at my Phoenix notes, but I've been all-in on Homestead for two weeks now. I've read my notes multiple times, watched videos over and over and over, and was doing it again last night so it has given me more time to prepare. "There's a little something in that. But who knows until it's all said and done." RELATED: Inside Johnson's quest for 80 wins Of the four drivers who will be competing this week, only Edwards participated in NASCAR's test at the site of the season finale last month. Although not behind the wheel, Johnson was on-site the second day of testing and got some valuable feedback from his teammate Chase Elliott , who represented the Hendrick Motorsports organization at track. "If I was able to get in the car and test there, it would have helped me without a doubt," Johnson said. "I watched Chase and was on the radio, studying lines and data and all the things I could do. "So I've at least been there and picked up the South Florida vibes," he added with a laugh. The new "must win" format suits Johnson well, he says, even though he has never needed to pull out a victory at Homestead to hoist the big trophy. His runner-up showing to Edwards still produced the 2010 championship (a race he entered 15 points behind Denny Hamlin in the standings) and is his best finish there to date. He has three consecutive ninth-place showings entering Sunday's race. RELATED: See every Miami winner Yet, in his unprecedented five consecutive championship years between 2006-2010, Johnson won the title by a combined 382 points. The slimmest margin was 39 points over Denny Hamlin in 2010. The greatest margin was 141 points over Mark Martin in 2009. He won again in 2013 by 19 points over Matt Kenseth . Of his two near-misses, Johnson finished runner-up to Kenseth by 90 points in 2003 and a paltry eight-points to Kurt Busch in 2004. The oh-so-close loss to Busch in 2004 and a third-place finish in the standings (by one point to runner-up Clint Bowyer and 40 to champion Brad Keselowski ) in 2012 were among the closest things have been in Homestead for Johnson. Two of his competitors this week, Edwards and Kyle Busch , would appear more experienced with the pressure that exists in ultra-close championship situations. Edwards finished runner-up to Johnson in 2008 and again in 2011, losing a tiebreaker with champ Tony Stewart . And Busch won his title last season in this new format – winning at Homestead. RELATED: Jimmie through the years But Johnson truly isn't phased. "I guess Carl's year with Tony was a must-win situation," Johnson recalled. "For myself, in 2012 with Brad, we were in a must-win. They were leading the race and we had a problem with an oil leak in the rear end. One of the lines was rubbing and it wore a hole in the line. "So, I feel like the times we've had to go down and be aggressive, we've been in the mix. We had to go down there and beat Denny [Hamlin] once. I feel like we can answer the call. I really do. It is different than any championship environment I've had down there but I also feel like I have a big advantage mentally. "I kind of joked about this on the TV broadcast over the weekend. Worse case scenario, I still have six championships. "I really feel like I have the most open mind and the most pure approach out of the drivers to come in. … I'm all about the racing, I don't have any additional pressure. The pressure I felt in '03, and '04 and failed both times and the pressure I felt in '06 and '07 to win again, each year the pressure has come down more and more. I really hope that's an advantage I can carry with me through Homestead weekend. And, he added, "The other thing about being calm and relaxed. … when you're prepared you're more at ease and relaxed. I'm going to be more prepared for Homestead than I've ever been. Getting ready for this Chase and the things I've done … I've never been this involved, this committed and this intense. "Hopefully it will allow me to be even more relaxed and to operate from the right place at Homestead." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;