The Frontstretch: Frontstretch 2005 Preview: 3rd - Mark Martin Preview by Toni Montgomery -- Wednesday February 16, 2005

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Frontstretch 2005 Preview: 3rd - Mark Martin Preview

Toni Montgomery · Wednesday February 16, 2005

 

Mark Martin has one last shot and he plans to make the best of it. Martin is often referred to as one of the best drivers not to win a championship. He’s been close many times. He’s been in the thick of the battle. But he has always come up just a little bit short. Many observers had written Martin off at this stage in his career, feeling his best years were behind him. He proved them wrong when he rallied to contend again last year.

The first challenge was making the cut to even have a chance at the championship under the new Chase for the Nextel Cup format. Martin and the No. 6 Viagra Ford Taurus team had their ups and downs but put it all together when it counted and sailed into the top ten with room to spare. They were not content to rest once they got there. Martin entered the final race at Homestead as part of a five man battle for the Nextel Cup and came out with a respectable fourth place in the season standings.

As the 2004 season came to a close, Martin announced that 2005 would be his last year of full time competition in the Nextel Cup Series. That gives him precisely one more chance to run for that elusive championship. This time no one will be underestimating Martin or his team.

Throughout his successful 2004 campaign, Martin cited his crew as the factor that had breathed new life into him. He could not express enough his appreciation for them, the hard work they put in, and the fabulous results it produced. Now, Martin will return for his final championship run with that same No. 6 Roush Racing Viagra Ford Taurus team down to the last man.

“We are really excited about getting this season started,” says Martin. “We’ve got a great race team in place. A lot of these guys passed on some good opportunities to come back and make one more run with me and I don’t plan on letting these guys down. Our plan is to come out strong.”

Martin understands just how rare it is for a team to stay completely intact over the off season and knows it is an indication that they have just as much faith in their driver as he has in them. In addition to his team and crew chief Pat Tryson, Martin will have the undivided attention and considerable resources of longtime team owner and friend Jack Roush behind his effort. While Roush was happy to win championships in 2003 and 2004 with Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch, getting the big trophy for Martin would mean the most to him.

Martin is calling his farewell season the “Salute to You” tour in honor of his fans. By including Martin in our top ten preseason picks, we here at Frontstretch salute you, Mark Martin, and hope to see you make this last run one heck of a ride. We’ve selected Martin for a third place finish but maybe this is one time we wouldn’t mind being wrong.

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Contact Toni Montgomery

Recent articles from Toni Montgomery:

IndyCar Race Recap: MAVTV 500
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