He's been running hard. He's been running smart. Now, he's running for a championship.
After running fourth at Saturday's fateful race at Richmond, martin will be the number one seed in this years chase. He has four wins, 13 Top tens, and 5 top five's. Martin started the race in tenth place in the sprint cup standings.
I remember thinking at the beginning of the season how nice it was that Nascar let this little old man get behind the wheel. And hoping he wouldn't get his feelings hurt when he got embarrassed on the track.
Now I hope that he doesn't embarrass the other drivers too bad when he wipes up the track with their rear ends. Because, martin just seems like he is ready to start taking names and kicking butt
The scary part of the deal is that martin has been racing very carefully for the past several weeks. God only knows what's going to happen when he decides to go all out for the Championship.
The humble Martin has become a great story this year. Fans have really taken to the 50 year old Hendrick driver. Not only is he on top of the chase with an eye-opening four wins this year, he is the oldest Nascar driver to ever qualify for the chase.
If Martin wins the Championship he will be the oldest since Bobby Allison won at age 45. Its easy to pull for the hard driving and easy going driver. He always defers to his team owner and pit crew when he does great things.
When asked about his championship run this year, he always seems sincere about just having a blast. He often tells the story of having to step away from the sport to recharge his batteries. Now he is having fun and showing the kids a thing or two.
Another good thing about Martin's great story is that it may inspire many down-trodden Americans caught in this terrible economy. Sort of the same way the "Cinderella man" Jimmy Braddock inspired millions during the depression.
It also gives permission to the "over 40 crowd" to not give up on their dreams. Maybe its okay for older people to get off the couch and live their lives on their own terms like Martin does.
So while Mark Martin smiles for the camera and speaks class and respect at all times, the other drivers better drive it like they stole it. Because, You can be sure that martin will be taking no prisoners for the next ten races.
(Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)