The Road Home
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 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 1974 Arkansas state championship. After the early success, he moved up to V-8 racing in 1976 and 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 and Dick Trickle. Martin was named ASA Rookie of the Year in '77 and followed that up with three consecutive ASA titles from 1978-1980.
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 April 1983 and ran a limited schedule with several owners, including J.D. Stacy, D.K. Ulrich and Morgan-McClure. He tallied a pair of top-10 finishes in 16 starts that season. In 1984, Martin returned to the ASA. He would be teamed with crew chief Jimmy Fennig in 1985 and would win another title in 1986.
Martin's fortunes began to look up in 1987, when he ran a full Busch Series schedule for Bruce Lawmaster. His win at Dover that year grabbed the attention of another car owner, Jack Roush. Roush was starting his own Cup team and pegged Martin as his driver. The relationship has proved fruitful: Martin had a string of 10 consecutive top-10 points finishes that ended in 2001, when he finished 12th.
Off the track, Martin owns Mark Martin Performance, a company that sells quarter-midget racing chassis like the one his son, Matt, races in. He also helped build a quarter-midget track in New Smyrna, Fla.
Mark Martin has compiled one of the most successful careers in NASCAR history. His 33 wins are the fourth most among active drivers. He is currently fourth in Nextel Cup's all-time standings and his name appears in the top 10 of several of NASCAR's all-time lists. He has currently started 508 straight Cup races, dating back to Feb 18, 1988. In September of 2003 Martin started his 500th consecutive Cup race the seventh longest streak in Nextel Cup history and the third longest current streak. Martin is set to start his 600th career Cup race this season at Phoenix in November.
During the 2002 season, Martin stared his 500th Cup career race and tallied his 300th career Cup top-10 finish. His fourth-place finish in the season finale of 2002 marked the 200th time the veteran driver has finished inside the top five in NASCAR's premier racing series. Martin's second-place finish in 2002 marked the fourth time he has finished second in the final Winston Cup point standings. Martin has finished in the top eight in 13 of the last 15 seasons. Martin has finished in the top-five in the Cup standings on 10 occasions in the past 15 seasons. In addition Martin owns a record 45 victories in the Busch Series and his 11 victories in the International Race of Champions series ties for the most ever. In addition, he has won four championships in the IROC series, including a record three straight from 1996-98.