CORNELIUS, N.C. — Mark Martin came within one second of winning last weekend on the new asphalt at Pocono Raceway. He hopes the new paving at Michigan International Speedway this weekend is just as rewarding.
Before the race, the Michael Waltrip Racing driver cautioned all that new paving takes a while before it produces great racing. But wild restarts, good racing and drama in the closing laps were just part of the Pocono race last weekend on the new surface.
Martin’s second place and Clint Bowyer’s sixth place finish at Pocono enabled Toyota to sweep four of the top six spots. Five of the top 13 spots in owners points are Toyotas.
MARK MARTIN LOOKING BACK AT POCONO: I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world to be able to drive a race car that I can come that close with, and maybe next week we’ll be the ones with the trophy. We were certainly close. Huge shout-out to Pocono Speedway and the paving company. I don’t think it would be possible to have a first race event this good – better than this one. I don’t think it would be possible. I only hope and pray that Michigan races as well as this did. This was just absolutely the best I can ever remember for new pavement. Shout-out to Goodyear, as well, fantastic tires, no failures.”
TOYOTA DOMINANCE: “They’ve been very, very helpful with us at MWR for sure. This is my first experience with them. And there are a lot of racers that help us with the engines and the technology, and I really enjoy them. And they’ve embraced me, and that’s been nice. They have really made me feel welcome. We did have some problems at Kansas, and they worked really hard to get those fixed up – this is a really, really competitive series, and it’s amazing what they’ve been able to do, and I appreciate their help so much.”
- MICHIGAN: In 52 Sprint Cup starts at Michigan, Martin owns five victories and 18 top-five finishes. He’s led 911 laps. Martin owns 40 Sprint Cup victories.
- MICHIGAN CHASSIS: Primary – Chassis 734—first race in 2012. Backup – Chassis 726—raced in Fontana and Darlington in 2012.
- POLES: Martin owns three poles and five top 10s in just 11 races in 2012. He won his third pole of the 2012 season and 54th of his career at Dover on June 2. Only seven drivers have won more Sprint Cup poles in their careers. Martin also owns 30 Nationwide and three Camping World Truck Series poles.
- LOGANO ROUND II: Joey Logano beat Martin by .997 seconds at Pocono on Sunday, but Martin received more fan votes in a head-to-head competition with Logano in the NASCAR The Game Drive for the Cover campaign. Martin advances this week to the second round where he faces Greg Biffle. Click here to vote for Martin.
- STATISTICS: For Mark Martin statistics Click Here
Date Friday June 15
Practice 12:30 p.m. SPEED
Qual. 3:30 p.m. SPEED
Date Saturday June 16
Qual. 1:00 p.m. SPEED
Date Sunday June 17
Race 1:00 p.m. TNT
All Times Eastern
Canada Well Represented on No. 55 Team & in NASCAR
CORNELIUS, N.C. – There will be a special moment before Sunday’s NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway for two of Mark Martin’s crew members and probably dozens of others in the sport.
MIS is one of three tracks in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that plays the Canadian national anthem along with the Star Spangled Banner as part of its pre-race ceremonies.
The playing of “O Canada” has special meaning to Mike “Nook” McCarville, a native of Prince Edward Island, and Toronto’s Glenn Shano who travel the NASCAR circuit each weekend as part of the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine crew at Michael Waltrip Racing.
“I’ll have guys on my team look at me and tell me to make sure to stand at attention,” laughed McCarville, a shock specialist and 14-year Sprint Cup veteran. “Everyone looks to me. It’s kind of like a hockey game with both anthems. It’s all good-natured ribbing, but they understand that it’s special to me.”
Michigan International Speedway says nearly 20 percent of its fan base hails from Canada. The track is about 90 miles from Windsor, Ontario. Few think of Canada as a hotbed for stock car talent, but the list of Canadian drivers starting NASCAR events exceeds 50, including Earl Ross who won at Martinsville in 1974.
There were many driving greats who never made it to NASCAR including Shano’s first racing hero, Canadian Norm Lelliott.
“People in Canada love racing,” said Shano, who finished second in the Freightliner Run Smart Driver Challenge and third in the Pilot Flying J Truck Driver Challenge in 2012.
“There’s strong racing at the local level. I got started working on my dad’s two race cars in the 1960s at places like CNE, Pinecrest and Cayuga Speedways. Everyone I know follows racing in Canada. You get out in the country and you see just as many NASCAR license plates and decals as you do in North Carolina.