CORNELIUS, N.C.— No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Mark Martin asks NASCAR fans that no matter how important the Chase for the Sprint Cup is for the next 10 weeks, also pay attention to the race winners.
Martin and 31 non-Chase drivers plan to race as hard as they always do when the Chase begins Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. Martin’s Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer earned MWR its first berths in the Chase and the 53-year-old Martin says he’ll do anything he can to help the pair. But when the green flag drops he’s also going to do everything he can to race his way to victory lane.
An MWR Toyota has had a shot to win each of the last four races. Martin dominated Michigan and Truex Atlanta, Brian Vickers came close at Bristol and Bowyer won last weekend in Richmond a few seconds in front of Martin in third-place.
RACING HARD: “We race for the same reasons that we raced before the Chase started and that’s to win. The Chase does a lot of wonderful things, but it isn’t the only thing going on. The event is about winning. Clint Bowyer won Richmond. That to me, is more important than points. The championship, the points and the Chase all do add to what we do. I am not degrading it. But I also think in today’s age that winning a race is underrated.”
CAN YOU WIN THIS WEEKEND? “We won there in 2009 and (crew chief) Rodney (Childers) won in 2010. The way we are all running I think that one of the three MWR cars might end up in victory circle after it is all over with. That’s really why we all do this. You don’t get to experience this all the time. It is really the driving factor of why we all do this. It’s to run up front, compete and challenge for wins.”
ON MWR: “Well, they have more confidence than when I first got here, but everything else is really the same. They had great people in place. We really found our niche. We really lean on one another. We have great teamwork there, the best teamwork that I’ve ever seen. The atmosphere at MWR is serious but light. It’s not heavy. We’re having a blast. We have really great teamwork, really great people there. I couldn’t be more proud to have both teammates in the Chase. When I came to MWR, I just wanted to try to be able to help them achieve that and maybe get lucky and stumble into a win myself. I’m having a blast. I deserve no credit for them getting over that hump. Martin Truex, Jr. deserves the most credit probably because he suffered through the building stages of the organization. Starting with Texas last year, last fall, you started seeing the momentum building in the 56 car. So the groundwork was starting to get laid and had been coming for years. The addition of Scott Miller has helped, too. But I think that we need to not short-change Martin Truex, Jr. for all the work and the suffering through the building stages. I was just lucky to come in when I did and get to be a part of it.”
WALTRIP ON MWR & MARK MARTIN: “This racing thing is all about people, totally about people. We just have a great core group of folks that embrace the team atmosphere, just love working at MWR. That’s probably the thing I’m most thankful for, is the fact that everybody gets along, everybody wants each other to do good. Probably the guy that has enhanced that more than I thought when we hired him is Mark Martin. (Co-owner) Rob (Kauffman) is a finance guy. Rob said, it’s like EF Hutton, when Mark Martin speaks, people listen. He’s done it all, he’s a legend, made us a better race team. That’s cool.”
- APPEARANCE: Martin will appear at the Aaron’s display at 10 a.m. Sunday.
- CHASSIS: 720 - finished second at Pocono in June. Also raced at Las Vegas, Kansas and Pocono August race. Backup – 732 - raced at Charlotte.
- THE BEST: Martin’s 8.5 qualifying average in 2012 is the best in NASCAR. Martin owns four poles, three top-five and seven top-10 finishes in just 17 races in 2012. He won his fourth pole of the 2012 season and 55th of his career at Michigan on Aug. 17. He is tied with Bill Elliott for seventh in all-time poles. Martin also owns 30 Nationwide and three Camping World Truck Series poles.
- CHICAGOLAND: In 11 Sprint Cup starts at Chicago, Martin owns a victory (2009) and five top-10 finishes. He’s led 239 laps.
- WINS: Martin owns 40 Sprint Cup, 49 Nationwide and seven Camping World Truck Series victories. He’s led 12,717 laps in Sprint Cup competition. Martin has started 847 Sprint Cup races, 236 Nationwide starts and 25 truck events.
- No. 55 SCHEDULE: Martin has driven the No. 55 in 17 races in 2012. Brian Vickers in six: (both Bristol, Martinsville, Sonoma, New Hampshire and Watkins Glen. Michael Waltrip in three: Talladega, Daytona (July) and Kentucky.
- NEW STORE: MWR announced the opening of its new team store www.mwrteamstore.com. The online team store is a one-stop shop for all MWR driver and team merchandise. Click here or visit www.nascar.com to order a No. 55 die cast.
- MWR IN 2012: MWR’s five Cup Series drivers have scored a combined record of two wins (Bowyer at Sonoma and Richmond), 18 top-five and 40 top-10 finishes through the 26 races of the season. Four drivers have recorded three or more top-five finishes – Truex Jr. has six and Bowyer six, Vickers has three and Martin has three. All five drivers, including Waltrip, have recorded a top-10.
- LEADING THE WAY: MWR’s Toyotas have led 888 laps in the 26 Sprint Cup Series races of 2012. Truex Jr. leads the MWR charge with 423 laps led, Bowyer 185, Martin with 133, Vickers 126, and Waltrip with 21.
- CATCHING SPEED … AGAIN: ESPN TV will air an encore presentation of Catching Speed presented by John Deere and 5-hour ENERGY on Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. on ESPN2 The one-hour special presentation follows Bowyer and the 5-hour ENERGY team for the week leading into The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Crew Chief – Rodney Childers
Car Chief – Steve Channing
Front Changer – Ryan Langley
Rear Changer – Shannon Myers
Front Carrier - Chris Hall
Rear Carrier – Mark Kennerly
Jackman – Tony Cardamone
Gas man – Brian Dheel
2nd Gas Man- Greg Moore
Spotter – Jeremy Brickhouse
Engineer – Billy Scott
2nd Engineer – Scott McDougall
Tires – Kevin White
Eng.Tuner- Denny Chandler (TRD)
Shocks – Mike (Nook) McCarville
Interior/7th man- Jacen Johns
Truck Driver – Glenn Shano
2nd Truck Driver – John Murphy
Pit Coach – Greg Miller
Date Friday Sept. 14
Practice 1:00 p.m. ESPN2
Qualifying 4:00 p.m. ESPN2
Date Saturday Sept. 15
Qualifying 1:30 p.m. SPEED
Date Sunday Sept. 16
Race 2:00 p.m. ESPN
All Times Eastern