Mark Martin is an American former stock car racing driver with more than 1170 starts in three NASCAR national divisions between 1981 and 2013, scoring 96 victories (40 Cup Series wins, 49 Busch/Nationwide Series wins, 7 Truck Series wins). He's the best ever NASCAR driver to never win a championship, as he finished second in the points five times and eight more times in the top 5.
On the other side, he's the most successful driver in a history of the International Race of Champions (IROC), winning thirteen individual races and scoring five championship titles (1994, 1996, 1997, 1998 and 2005). Outside of NASCAR, he was four-time ASA National Tour champion.
Martin spent most of his stock car racing career with Roush Racing, also joining the team six times at Daytona 24 Hours, scoring three class victories.
ASA National Tour Rookie of the Year and then four-time champion
Born in January 1959 in Batesville, Arkansas, Mark Anthony Martin started his racing career as a teenager on the dirt tracks in Arkansas, making a debut in the ASA (American Speed Association) National Tour in 1977.
He became the Rookie of the Year in his first ASA season and captured his first championship title in 1978. He dominated in the series for three years, taking three consecutive titles from 1978 to 1980. Martin made his NASCAR debut in 1981 but he later returned to ASA National Tour to win one more title in 1986.
1981 - two pole positions in the first NASCAR Cup Series season
Mark Martin made his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut in April 1981, driving the #02 Pontiac for Bud Reeder at North Wilkesboro Speedway and not finishing the race. Later in the season, he started in four more races, earning two pole positions at Nashville and Richmond and finishing third at Martinsville.
In 1982, Martin competed full-time with Bud Reeder's team, recording 30 starts and eight top 10 results to finish 14th in the final standings. He was second in the Rookie of the Year standings, behind Geoff Bodine. In 1982, Martin also made a debut in the NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series (today Xfinity Series), participating in one race with Whitaker Racing.
Driving for four teams in the 1983 Cup Series season
Mark Martin and Bud Reeder parted ways at the end of 1982. In 1983, Martin started a season in the #2 Buick of Jim Stacy Racing. In seven races, his best result was the third place at Darlington.
In the remainder of the season, Martin made nine starts with three different teams (Ulrich Racing, Zervakis Racing, Morgan-McClure Motorsports), finishing best in the tenth place at Talladega 500.
Three wins in the 1987 Busch Series season
Unable to secure a ride in NASCAR for 1984, Martin returned to ASA National Tour. He stayed three seasons in a series, winning the title in 1986. He also made five Winston Cup Series starts with Gunderman Racing in 1986.
For the 1987 season, Martin secured a full-time ride with Lawmaster Racing in the Busch Series. Driving the #31 Ford, he scored his maiden NASCAR victory at Dover's Budweiser 200. Later in the season, he added two more wins (Rougemont and Richmond) to finish 8th in the final standings.
Joining Roush Racing in 1988, staying 19 years with the team
Martin's good performance caught the eye of Jack Roush and he invited Martin to drive for his newly-founded Roush Racing in the Winston Cup Series in 1988, beginning one of legendary NASCAR's partnerships.
Mark Martin stayed in Roush Racing's #6 Ford for nineteen seasons, scoring 35 Cup Series wins and finishing as a vice-champion four times.
1988 - Daytona 24 Hours debut with Roush Racing
Mark Martin's first race with Roush Racing was the Daytona 24 Hours in January 1988. He was driving the #22 Mercury Capri, sharing a car with Lyn St.James, Deborah Gregg and Pete Halsmer. They didn't finish the race.
Three weeks later, Martin made NASCAR debut with Roush Racing at Daytona 500, crashing out after 110 laps in the #6 Ford Thunderbird. In the 1988 Cup Series season, Martin was on a pole once and his season-high was the second place at Bristol to finish 15th in the final points.
1989 – class win at Daytona 24h and maiden win in NASCAR Cup Series
In 1989, Martin again started a season at Daytona 24 Hours, driving a Stroh's Light Mercury Cougar XR-7. He was a member of two crews, finishing as GTO class winner in the #16 car, sharing it with Pete Halsmer, Bob Earl and Paul Stewart.
In the 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season, Martin needed 27 races to finally score his maiden Cup Series victory, at North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham. He finished a season third in the points.
1990 – losing a title to Dale Earnhardt
In 1990, Martin scored the first win of the season in the second race at Richmond. He received a 46-point penalty after that race because of illegal carburetor spacer.
Over the season, Martin was in the top 5 sixteen times, including two more wins at Michigan and North Wilkesboro. He was second in the championship points, behind Dale Earnhardt. He lost a championship by 26 points. Had the 46-point penalty never occurred, he theoretically would have won the championship.
1991 - one more class win at Daytona 24 Hours
Martin's 1991 NASCAR Cup Series season was disappointing compared to the previous season, as he scored just one victory to finish 6th in the points. He was sixth again in 1992, scoring two wins in the #6 Ford. He entered the 1992 season's finale as one of six title contenders but an engine failure on lap 160 ended his championship hopes.
Overall podium at 1993 Daytona 24 Hours
In January 1993, Mark Martin recorded one more success at Daytona 24 Hours. He finished third overall in the #15 Roush Racing Ford Mustang, sharing a car with John Fergus and Jim Stevens.
1994 – NASCAR vice-champion and IROC winner
Mark Martin was the NASCAR Winston Cup Series vice-champion for the second time in 1994, finishing 444 points behind Dale Earnhardt. Martin was a race winner two times that season. The season was also marked by his spectacular crash at the spring Talladega race.
In 1994, Martin recorded his first triumph in the International Race of Champions. In the four-race competition, he was a race winner once, beating Al Unser Jr for the title.
One more class win in last Daytona 24h attempt
In February 1995, Martin recorded his last attempt at Daytona 24 Hours, taking one more class victory. He was driving the #70 Roush Racing Ford Mustang, finishing third overall and the first in GTS-1 class. He was sharing a car with Tom Kendall, Paul Newman and Mike Brockman.
In the 1995 NASCAR Winston Cup season, Martin won four races to finish fourth in the points. In 1996, Martin was winless for the first time in eight seasons, finishing fifth in the points. That year, he won the Race of Champions for the second time. Martin returned to NASCAR's Victory Lane four times in 1997, finishing third in the points. He defended IROC title in 1997.
Career-high seven wins in the 1998 Winston Cup Series
In the 1998 Winston Cup season, Mark Martin scored career-high seven wins in the #6 Ford Taurus. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't enough to finally capture a title. He was second, behind Jeff Gordon.
He managed to beat Jeff Gordon in the 1998 International Race of Champion, scoring the third consecutive win and fourth win in total.
Vice-champion for the fourth time in 2002
Martin continued to collect victories in the #6 Ford in 1999 (two wins, third in points) and 2000 (one win, eighth in points) then having a winless season in 2001.
He was among the front-runners again in 2002, scoring one victory and twelve top 5 results to finish second in the championship for the fourth time in a career. This time, the champion was Tony Stewart, who beat him by 38 points.
Driving for Roush Racing until 2006
After a winless season in 2003 and one victory in 2004, Martin announced that he would retire from full-time racing at the end of 2005. He said that the 2005 season would be his 'Salute to You' tour, dedicated to his fans. He picked up his final win with Roush at Kansas, finishing fourth in the championship. He also scored his fifth IROC victory, becoming the most successful driver in a history of the competition.
The plan was that Jamie McMurray will replace Mark Martin in the team, but the plan failed when Kurt Busch left Roush Racing so both McMurray and Martin were hired to drive for the team in 2006. In his last season with Roush Racing, Martin scored seven top 5 results to finish ninth in the points.
Part-time schedule for two seasons
For the 2007 Cup Series season, it was announced that Mark Martin will share the #01 Ginn Racing Chevrolet with Regan Smith. He finished second at Daytona 500, only 0.020 seconds behind Kevin Harvick, in one of the most controversial finishes ever.
During the season, Dale Earnhardt Inc. had acquired Ginn Racing and they retained Martin as a part-time driver. The team retained Martin for the 2008 Cup Series season, hiring him to share the #8 car with Aric Almirola.
Five wins and second place in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Mark Martin returned to full-time racing in 2009, joining Hendrick Motorsports to drive the #5 Chevrolet. It turned to be one of his most successful seasons in a career, as he scored five wins and stayed in a fight for the title until the last race. At the end, he was second for the fifth time in a career, losing a title to Jimmie Johnson. During a season, he became only the fourth driver to win NASCAR Cup Series race after turning 50.
Martin spent two more winless seasons with Hendrick Motorsports. The highlight of the season in 2010 was Martin's pole at Daytona 500. He finished 12th in the race.
Two seasons with Michael Waltrip Racing
Martin left Hendrick Motorsports at the end of 2011 but he wasn't ready to retire, so he signed a contract with Michael Waltrip Racing to drive the #55 Toyota Camry on a part-time schedule, sharing a car with Michael Waltrip and Brian Vickers. Martin was a pole-sitter for times but scored no wins.
In 2013, Martin started a season with a third-place finish at Daytona 500. He stayed with MWR for 15 races, joining Joe Gibbs Racing in one race (Martinsville) as a replacement for injured Denny Hamlin.
Finishing a career with Stewart-Haas Racing
In the mid-season, Martin was released from contract with MWR. Then, in August, he joined Stewart-Haas Racing as a replacement for injured Tony Stewart in the #14 Chevrolet SS. Martin participated in twelve races with #14 Chevrolet, finishing best in the ninth place at Richmond.
He stayed with the team for post-season testing but he announced that he would not race in 2014. In July 2014, Martin joined Rush Fenway Racing as a development coach, staying with the team for less than a year.
Forty-nine wins in the Busch/Nationwide Series
After his full-time season in the 1987 Busch Series and his arrangement with Roush Racing in 1988, Martin continued to race occasionally in the Busch Series (Nationwide Series since 2008) until 2012. He raced with different teams, mostly with Bill Davis Racing (1988-1991) and Roush Racing (1992-2007).
Martin collected 49 victories in the Busch/Nationwide Series, becoming the second-best driver in a history of series. His most successful season was 1993 when he scored seven wins in the #60 Roush Racing Ford.
25 starts and seven wins in the NASCAR Truck Series
Over his rich career, Mark Martin also competed in the NASCAR Truck Series, making a debut in 1996 with Roush Racing and winning one race with #99 Ford. He returned in 2005 and then scored six Truck Series wins in 2006, driving the #6 Ford for Roush Racing.
In 2007, he raced with Wood Brothers Racing in six Truck Series events. His last Truck Series attempt was in 2011 when he joined Turner Motorsports in two races.
One of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers
In 1998, while he was still active, Mark Martin had been chosen among NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in a panel as a part of NASCAR's 50th-anniversary celebration.
Following his retirement from racing, he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2015 and then to NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017.
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