Since the death of Dale Earnhardt I’ve had few drivers to root for. I’ve respected some and despised others through the years, but when Dale died I was not one to just pick another driver. Now I love Junior just because he’s Junior and he has my respect for how he has handled himself through times harder than I can even imagine. And he will hit his stride and rack up more than one championship in is career . Now to my point. Mark Martin was always a “second pick” for me just because I’ve always liked his driving style and thought he could do better if he’d just leave Roush for a better team. Saturday night at age 5o (another reason to like him) in the Arizona desert he won again. Below is the article from NASCAR.COM.
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Not bad, old man
The 36th victory of Mark Martin‘s career was perhaps his most fulfilling.
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Martin became the oldest driver to win in the series since Morgan Shepherd won at age 51 on March 20, 1993 at Atlanta. Martin’s victory was his first since Oct. 9, 2005 at Kansas and his first since joining Hendrick Motorsports to start the 2009 season.
Stewart ran second followed by Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle. Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., David Reutimann, Sam Hornish Jr. and Carl Edwards completed the top 10, as a late caution for an accident involving Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Casey Mears scrambled the finishing order.
“The thought went through my mind — 1989 with Jack Roush — when I got my first win at Rockingham, I said, ‘My life is fulfilled,'” Martin said in Victory Lane (watch video). “I thought about saying that again [Saturday night], but I’ll stop short of that.
“But it means that much. It means just as much as getting that first one to me. We made a couple of early adjustments, but after that we never made adjustments. There were cars better than us in the middle of the race, but it came to us. At the end, nobody could run with us.”
Martin took the lead from Earnhardt with a pass off Turn 2 on Lap 256 of 312 at the 1-mile flat track. He increased his advantage over Stewart to more than 4 seconds before Earnhardt and Mears tangled in Turn 4 on Lap 301.
Stewart’s teammate, Ryan Newman, stayed out on old tires and took the green flag in the lead on Lap 307 but quickly faded. Martin was back in front before the cars got back to the start/finish line and began to pull away. He was .734 seconds ahead of Stewart at the finish.
“No burnouts for me,” he radioed his crew. “Just a backward Polish victory lap for my man Alan Kulwicki.”
With Stewart right behind him on the restart, Martin said he couldn’t waste any time getting by Newman.
“Tony would race me clean, but he would race me crazy, too, to get a win,” Martin said. “I knew I had to go.”
The last 50-year-old to win a Cup race was Morgan Shepherd in 1993 at Atlanta. Harry Gant holds the record as the oldest driver to win a Cup race. He was 52 when he won at Michigan in 1992.
Before Martin, only three drivers 50 or older won Cup races: Gant, Shepherd and Bobby Allison.
The praise poured in from every corner of the garage for Martin, who is widely considered to be the greatest NASCAR driver to never win a championship.
“The guy has been at the top of his game in the sport for 30 years,” Busch said. “He’s a tremendous athlete, a tremendous individual and he’s definitely going to put together.”
Martin’s victory pushed him five spots in the standings from 18th to 13th, and he’s now just nine points out of the final qualifying spot for the Chase.
The race left Stewart still seeking his first victory as an owner/driver at Stewart-Haas Racing, but the runner-up was encouraged by his progress.
“We’re so close,” Stewart said. “We’re going to win one of these soon. [But] I’m glad to see Mark get this win. He deserved it. He had the fastest car.”
Series points leader Jeff Gordon finished 25th after his crew failed to secure a lug nut on the car during a pit stop on Lap 233. He lost 77 points off his advantage in the standings and now leads second-place Johnson by 85.
Notes: After his late accident, Earnhardt dropped to 31st at the finish. … Kyle Busch beat Stewart out of the pits on the final stop under caution on Lap 302 but was penalized for speeding on pit road. He finished 17th.