WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Mark Martin, a three-time winner at Watkins Glen International, loves the openness of the 2.45-mile road course in upstate New York.
“Watkins Glen is like the superspeedway of road courses,” Martin said. “I love it. I’ve run better here over the course of my career so I’ve always kind of enjoyed it more. This track has more of an open feel to it and carries a lot more speed than Infineon (Raceway) does. We haven’t had the best runs on road courses here lately, but I’m hoping that turns around this weekend, and we can get a good solid finish.”
Martin reached Victory Lane from the pole position in each of his three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins at the road course in 1993, 1994 and 1995. The veteran driver’s three pole positions tie him with the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. for most all-time at the racetrack. In 21 Cup starts at the track, Martin also has earned 12 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s -- the most all-time for any Cup driver at Watkins Glen.
The No. 5 Chevrolet pit crew is preparing to change things up for this weekend’s 90-lap event. At Watkins Glen, pit stops are performed backwards so teams have to prepare in advance to stay on top of their game. That is one of several challenges crew chief Lance McGrew is assessing prior to the Cup event.
“The road courses are challenging for a number of reasons,” crew chief Lance McGrew said. “First, they’re not what we do on a weekly basis, which makes it difficult for us. Many things are different. The car comes down pit road from left to right instead of right to left, which means lots of extra practice for our pit crew guys. There are also many more parts that can break. The transmission and drivetrain take a real beating, as well as all the suspension parts. Road course racing definitely finds the weak link as far as components on the cars go. Hopefully, we can continue to find speed from our recent testing and have a strong run this weekend.”
Tune in Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN to watch Mark Martin and the No. 5 team compete in the second road course event of the 2011 season.