CORNELIUS, N.C. — Despite many asking, No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Mark Martin doesn’t have a favorite victory, car or racetrack. The 34-year veteran isn’t big on making lists, but if you push him a little he has trouble hiding his affection for Dover International Speedway where the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this weekend.
Martin makes his 54th start Sunday at the concrete mile oval. His first came May 16, 1982 when the 23-year-old rookie finished fifth, only four laps behind race winner Bobby Allison who won by three laps. Martin has logged four victories and 24 top-five finishes at the “Monster Mile” including a third-place finish in September.
Martin said the first step toward a good finish Sunday at Dover is getting in a good qualifying lap on Friday. He set the track record of 132.719 mph in September 1997 and he won the pole at this race last year by trusting in his crew chief Rodney Childers. Martin said Childers installed a chassis setup right before qualifying that might have made the driver shudder had he known the full details.
That’s when the driver/crew chief trust produces results on the track.
MARTIN ON WINNING POLE RUN LAST YEAR: “I would never try that again (laughter). I anticipated the car being loose, but I didn’t ask Rodney (Childers, crew chief) if he tightened it up. I knew the conditions were looser than they were in our mock qualifying run and I didn’t want to ask him because I didn’t want to get concerned. I knew that I only had to make it one mile without wrecking and I was going to drive to the limit and slightly beyond and I felt like I did that. I certainly wouldn’t cheat it again that far. That’s how much trust we put in our crew. They listen to my input and I trust their judgment.”
MARTIN ON DOVER: “Ever since I started racing there in 1982 I have loved Dover. It’s hard to put into words, but from the first moments it just felt good. In the 1980s it was asphalt and you slipped all over the place, but it was a blast to drive. They put concrete down in the mid-1990s and like most drivers I haven’t been a big fan of concrete. I understand why track owners do that but as a driver I wish they had left it asphalt. Despite all that, Dover is still a good place to race even with concrete. Anywhere you have a shot to win you are going to be pumped up to go to the track and this weekend we’re pumped up for Dover. We had a rocket ship there in September. We fell down two laps because of a caution flag and then made them up and finished third.”
· CHASSIS NOTES: Primary-774. Backup-720 neither have raced in 2013.
· DOVER STATS: In 53 starts at Dover, Martin owns four victories (fall races in 1997, 1998 & 1999 plus the 2004 spring race.) He has 24 top-five finishes. He’s led 1,769 laps and won five poles. He owns the Dover track record of 132.719 mph set in September 1997.
· CAREER STATS: Martin owns 40 Sprint Cup, 49 Nationwide and seven Camping World Truck Series victories. He’s led 12,856 laps in Sprint Cup competition. Martin has started 864 Sprint Cup races, 236 Nationwide races and 25 truck events. He also owns 13 IROC wins in 47 starts.
· POLES: Martin owns five poles in 33 races with MWR. He is seventh on the all-time pole list with 56 poles including one in 2013 at Phoenix.
· VOTE FOR No. 55 TRUCK DRIVER GLENN SHANO: Freightliner held the third round of the Freightliner Run Smart Hauler Challenge in Charlotte. Now it’s time to vote the eliminated drivers back into the competition for the fourth round. The No. 55’s Glenn Shano needs votes to re-enter the final round of competition at Kentucky. You can vote for Shano once daily at http://freightlinerhaulerchallenge.com/site/vote Voting ends June 21.
· AAA: Mark Martin will visit the AAA display in the midway on Sunday at 10:10 a.m. The visit is open to race fans.