NASCAR

Don't Call Mark Martin's 2009 Run a Comeback

INDIANAPOLIS - JULY 25:  Mark Martin, driver of the #5 CarQuest Chevrolet wins the pole during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 25, 2009 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tom ThomasonCorrespondent IAugust 7, 2009

"Don't call it a comeback. I've been here for years I'm rocking my peers
puttin' suckers in fear."

Those were the lyrics to the LL cool J song "Mamma said knock you out," but they could apply to Mark "the kid" Martin today.

Its hard to call his recent success a comeback to be sure. Martin has been running with  the big boys for years. He finished top 15 in the standings in all but three of his 23 full-time seasons as a NASCAR cup driver.

Ask any driver of yesterday or today, and you will find out that he was and is a threat to win every time he climbs into a car. Martin is respected by his peers and loved by his fans that keep growing every week. He is no doubt the sentimental favorite to win the championship this year.

But if you ask him about his championship chances, he will tell you that he isn't even thinking about that right now. He is just having a blast driving a fast race car. This might also be an important lesson to young drivers like Kyle Busch. Maybe if some of today's drivers could learn to enjoy their work, they wouldn't be their own worst enemy at times.

You never hear about Mark giving his pit crew a lot of grief when his car isn't perfect. His tone is always relaxed and even. But, at the same time he is a fierce competitor on the track. If you are running side by side with "the kid," chances are he is going to find a way to pass you.

After barely losing to Jimmie Johnson at Indianapolis, Johnson paid his teammate the ultimate compliment, saying, "For an old guy he had me pretty worried. Those last 15, 20 laps we had to work so hard to stay ahead of him. I did everything I could on that restart and it worked out".

It was obvious that Jimmie Johnson had to give it everything he had to beat the 50 year old Martin.

After the Race, Mark Martin called Johnson superman, but teammate Jeff Gordon disagreed.

"Mark's got it backwards," Gordon said. "He's too modest to call himself Superman, but he's definitely Superman. He has been unbelievable."

Martin is a great story for NASCAR. In a terrible economy, it would be a great boost to ratings if he were able to win the championship this year.'

People love to be inspired. What would be more inspirational than to see Mark Martin hoist the championship trophy?

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