By admin | January 6, 2009
By Richard Allen
Over the next few days and weeks I will be presenting a review of 2008 and a preview of 2009 for each of the drivers and teams who appear to be set for a full time run in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. For the most part these pieces will run in order by car number. If you should miss out on your favorite driver simply type his name into the search box at the upper right hand portion of the website.
#5- Mark Martin
For the past two seasons Mark Martin has driven a partial schedule for Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Now, he has decided to re-enter the realm of full time NASCAR Sprint Cup competition.
Hendrick Motorsports wanted to improve the performance of its #5 car and convinced Martin to give up his limited schedule and make another run at a Sprint Cup championship.
Martin has shown he can still be competitive while running in selected races. In 2008 he ran 24 races. In those races he scored four Top 5 finishes and eleven Top 10s. He also managed a solid 13.3 average finish.
Driving for a stronger team in 2009 should provide Martin the opportunity to improve those numbers. The question is, how much will he improve those numbers?
The success of his new team will very much be determined by Martinâ€™s ability to compete over the course of a 36 race schedule. His physical condition, but perhaps more so, his mental conditioning will be tested.
Martin has always prided himself on his physical and mental fitness. At age 50 he may very well be stronger in both of those aspects than some drivers half his age. Martin will give this his best effort both physically and mentally. However, 50 years old is still 50 years old and it is important to keep in mind that he has not won a race since 2005.
What could be a bigger factor for this team than their driverâ€™s conditioning is the fact that they are unfamiliar with him and he with them. And, Martin has a bit less experience with the Car of Tomorrow than most of his competitors due to his running of a limited schedule over the past two seasons.
In the end, Martin will be competitive. After all, he is a solid driver who makes very few mistakes. In Alan Gustafson, Martin will have one of the best young crew chiefs in the business. And, he will be driving HMS equipment which is among the very best.
Driver: Mark Martin
Owner: Hendrick Motorsports
Sponsor: Kelloggâ€™s, Carquest and Cheez It
Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson
Scanner Frequencies(?): 468.2125 & 467.0375
Chances of making the Chase for the Championship: Pretty good
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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