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Monday, June 15, 2009

Hard-luck Martin finally catching some breaks this year

In the past, Mark Martin was always the guy with a constant case of bad luck, a sort of black cloud hanging over his racing career.

He won a bunch of races, but on four occasions he came in second in the points, never winning a title. One of those times, he would have won if not for a small points penalty he had incurred early in the year.

As he prepared to scale back his schedule and eventually retire, Martin was resigned to the fact that he would end his racing career without a title.

That’s all in the past now. 2009 has provided Martin a shot at the ultimate prize once again. He was in the right place at the right time at MIS, was smart enough to start conserving fuel early in the race, and was able to claim his third victory of the year, tying him with Kyle Busch for most wins this season. This is the most wins Martin has scored in one season since his 7-win season in 1998. And the season is only half over, so who knows what the final number will be.

One thing is for certain … Martin has the experience and the talent to be a title threat, which he proved this weekend by outsmarting teammate Jimmie Johnson and taking the trophy. Johnson may have the past three Cup titles, but Martin has a long career’s worth of experience that makes him one of the few drivers on the track with a legitimate shot at taking the title away from Johnson this year.

And finally, after all these years, some good luck seems to have caught up with Martin. He had a terrible start to the season, and could have been buried, but that was not to be … as he was able to climb his way out of that hole into Chase territory at record speed. He started 32nd at Michigan, yet was able to persevere, take advantage of the misfortune of others and take the checkered flag. (Martin is a great road course racer, so don’t count him out at Sonoma next week, either.)

Martin is not your typical NASCAR star. He’s not bold and brash like Kyle Busch, he’s not a huge name like Dale Jr. He’s not a pretty face to pull in the female viewers like Kasey Kahne.

Martin is simply a racer, someone who has spent his life behind the wheel winning races. Between his talent and the luck that has started to come his way, one would be a fool to say he can’t take the Cup championship at age 50.

Montoya could jump into Chase next week
Check out his strange stat: Juan Pablo Montoya has more top-10 finishes (6) than Kyle Busch (5) in 2009, despite the fact that Busch has won 3 times and Montoya has not won a single race.

Keep an eye on Montoya, who could easily jump into the Chase next week if he can get a top-5 or a win at Sonoma. It’s a road course, meaning many of the top-12 drivers could have pretty terrible finishes, and 14th place Montoya will certainly do well.


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