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Mark Martin - bio

 

MARK MARTIN
DRIVER, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET

Birthdate: Jan. 9, 1959
Resides: Daytona Beach, Fla.
Hometown: Batesville, Ark.
Family: Wife Arlene; son Matt
     
In 2009, Mark Martin returned to full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup racing with Hendrick Motorsports to drive fast race cars and maybe, just maybe, win a race.

But the NASCAR veteran accomplished much more than that during his first year at Hendrick. At the age of 50, he garnered five victories and battled for the Sprint Cup championship, finishing second for the fifth time of his career. Martin’s success drew attention from fans of all ages – many who just wanted to see a Cinderella story come true.

With 2010 on the horizon, Martin is gearing up for another shot at the elusive Sprint Cup championship trophy from behind the wheel of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet.

Career History

Dirt to Pavement to ASA

Martin began his racing career at the age of 15 in his home state of Arkansas. Competing on dirt tracks, he won in only his third start and that same year – 1974 – won the Arkansas State Championship. In 1976, Martin left his dirt days behind and moved to pavement racetracks.

In 1977, Martin started competing in the American Speed Association (ASA). He earned rookie of the year honors that year and went on to win the championship the following three seasons.

Introduction to NASCAR

The 1981 racing season saw Martin move into NASCAR’s elite series, and make five Sprint Cup Series starts in which he earned two pole positions and two top-10 finishes. The following year, in his first full-time schedule, he recorded eight top-10 finishes. Unable to continue funding his own team, Martin was forced to auction off his equipment and race for a variety of owners before returning to ASA competition from 1984-1986. He won his fourth ASA championship in 1986.

The thrill of NASCAR called again in 1987, and Martin agreed to drive a full Nationwide Series schedule. He earned three victories that season, which piqued the interest of car owner Jack Roush. In 1988, Martin and Roush joined forces, forging a working relationship that lasted 19 years.

During his time with Roush, Martin recorded 35 victories and won at all but six tracks on the Sprint Cup circuit. He earned 230 top-five finishes and 361 top-10s, earning a top-10 finish in nearly 50 percent of his starts. He also started from the pole 39 times.

Martin finished second in the Sprint Cup Series standings four times with Roush Fenway Racing, missing his first championship in 1990 by a mere 26 points..

While making a name for himself in Cup competition, Martin was setting records in the Nationwide Series. Though he’s completed just one full season of Nationwide competition – 1987 – Martin holds the all-time series records for most wins (48) and most poles (30). In 2006, motorsports media acknowledged his accomplishments by naming him the greatest Nationwide Series driver of all-time.

Cutting Back

Following the 2006 season, Martin committed only to a part-time Sprint Cup schedule. He was ready to spend more time at home in Daytona Beach, Fla., with his wife Arlene and son Matt.

In the two years that followed, Martin competed in 48 Sprint Cup Series races driving the Nos. 01 and 8 Chevrolets. He earned seven top-five finishes and 19 top-10s and also became a mentor for rookie drivers. 

In 2007, Martin made his first Nationwide start for Hendrick Motorsports, driving the No. 5 Chevrolet led by crew chief Alan Gustafson. Martin further impressed Rick Hendrick by finishing second in that race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Martin went on to earn his first win for Hendrick the following year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway driving the No. 5 JR Motorsports Nationwide entry.

Joining Hendrick Motorsports

Hendrick’s admiration grew for Martin’s on-track skills as well as his ability to motivate and inspire his crew members. Hendrick decided to pursue the NASCAR veteran, and in July 2008, Martin announced that he would return to full-time Sprint Cup competition to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports.

Martin did not disappoint in his first season with the powerhouse team and posted one of his career-best seasons with five victories, 14 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s. He also notched a career-best seven pole positions.

In his return to full-time racing, Martin challenged for the 2009 Sprint Cup championship. He opened the Chase as the points leader and maintained the top spot during the first three races of the postseason. During the final race of the season, Martin was the only contender with a mathematical shot to reach Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, who ultimately scored his fourth straight Cup title.

Martin finished the season with several honors and notably was recognized as NASCAR Illustrated’s Person of the Year presented by Old Spice. He also earned the Sporting News’ Dale Earnhardt Tough Driver award. Martin was named to the All American Team selected by the Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association and was nominated for the SPEED Performer of the Year title. Martin was also named the Sportsman of the Year by his homestate’s newspaper The Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Late in the 2009 season, Mark Martin announced that he would return fulltime to Hendrick Motorsports through the 2011 season to drive the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. GoDaddy.com, the world’s largest domain registrar and Web hosting provider, will adorn the hood for 20 races annually.

Off the Track

A healthy lifestyle advocate, Martin spends much of his free time on his extensive physical fitness regimen. He is a licensed pilot, flying to and from racetracks around the country, and a successful businessman. In addition to other interests, he owns a pair of Arkansas automobile dealerships, located in Melbourne and his hometown of Batesville.

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