At an age when most drivers have already hung up their driving shoes, and are sitting back enjoying retirement after spending years traveling one of the most grueling schedules in all the sporting world, along comes a driver who refuses to allow the hands of time to dictate his future; in a sport that he has excelled at for the past three decades.
Instead of slowing down and allowing Father Time to creep into his already tired body, Mark Martin continues to kick him to the curb without any signs of slowing down.
What Martin has accomplished at the age of 50 while racing in the Sprint Cup series, is unheard of, especially when you look around at the talent that is out there today.
“Well my view on that is the guys and girls that are over 50 that are enjoying this and are excited about it, I think that’s great. I really do. Good for them and it’s good for me.”
Martin has always shown a unique sense of humbleness, as well as a huge amount of respect towards his fellow drivers which could easily be lost once the green flag drops. “You know, all those guys out there are incredibly talented race-car drivers.”
NASCAR is a sport that is known for its rough edge, and hard-nosed drivers that don’t take too kindly finishing anywhere except in the number one spot.
Then you throw in the high energy, and the tough skin attitudes which don’t seem to be in total harmony with the demeanor that he portrays even at the heat of the moment.
And it was because of this professionalism, that helped bring GoDaddy.com on board for 20 races during the 2010 season beginning with the Daytona 500.
"Mark Martin is the consummate professional and a very exciting driver, to say the least," said the GoDaddy.com CEO and founder Bob Parsons. "He's the sentimental favorite for this year's Sprint Cup championship, and we're stoked to have him driving for Go Daddy next year."
"It's a real privilege to have this opportunity with GoDaddy.com and to work with Rick, Alan and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports," said Martin who has qualified for the Chase in all four of his full time seasons since the format was implemented in 2004.
Rick Hendrick, who extended Martins until the 2011 season, knows the importance of having a driver that can continue to bring the experience and knowledge of many years behind the wheel.
"While at the same time, Martin possesses a lot of positive qualities that are not found in today’s younger, more inexperienced drivers. "
"Mark has been an unbelievable asset to our organization," Hendrick said. "I can't overstate the contribution he's made or the kind of teammate he's been, and we're excited that he'll race with us for the next two years. With his focus and dedication, he will continue to make all of us better."
So looking at this point of the racing season and what he has accomplished so far, Martin has by far exceeded all the expectations that usually don’t come with a driver of his age.
“Absolutely. This certainly rivals my best year ever and, at this stage of my career, I certainly wouldn’t expect to rival 1998. So what I thought I would do is drive a fast race car and hopefully have a chance to win a race.”
“And I said after that we’ll work on two and after two we’ll work on three. Now we’re going to work on six.”
Its hard to imagine that back in 2004, Martin had announced that he was going to retire after the 2005 season. And know here he is after the first chase race for the Sprint cup championship, he sits atop the point standings with his series leading five wins.
Martin will enter Sunday's race with four victories at the Monster Mile (’97, ’98, ’99 and ’04). Martin will also be making his 750th Sprint Cup start on Sunday at Dover, becoming only the ninth driver in the sport's history to reach that mark.
In his previous 749 starts, he has earned 40 wins, 253 top-five finishes and 411 top-10s. He also has recorded 47 career pole positions, while adding more to those totals as he mysteriously stops the hands of time.
Martin also leads all Chasers at Dover in top-five finishes and top-10s, and he ranks second to Gordon in most laps led.
Alan Gustafson has nothing but praise for his 50 year old driver, knowing that the sport in itself is not a joyful walk in the park especially with the high energy level that it produces.
"Mark is such a nice guy and a very humble individual. He is one of those people who takes a lot of joy in helping people achieve their goals and help make people better at what they do, or to make them better people in general.”
“He's maybe not gotten the results or accolades that he deserves for different reasons. One of my goals was to make sure that we did everything possible for this team and for Mark to show how good Mark Martin is and how good that (No.) 5 car is."
Gustafson finished with, “Seeing the smile on Mark's face, and the smiles on my team members faces in Victory Lane that's what it's all about, and It's worth all of the sacrifice."
So as expectations are being met, and Martin is once again enjoying what he has done for the majority of his life. He continues to defile all the odds that growing old is not a time to sit back, and reflect at what could have happened.
Martin is taking himself into another chapter of his already stellar career, and into a time that when he does decide its time to call it quits. Martin will be finally be able to sit back and reflect while telling himself that its not what could have happened, but instead what did happen.
"As long as I can have fun, compete at a high level and have the opportunity to win, I'm going to continue to do this. I'm having a blast, and that's always been most important to me and my family."