DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.– Mark Martin has grown to enjoy the two-car tandem style of racing at Daytona International Speedway and the challenges it presents.
“I can honestly say that I like this style of racing way better than those big 35-car packs that we used to race in,” said Martin, who will drive the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup event.
“There is just so much more that goes into this," he added. "It’s finding the right partner; finding which is better pushing. There’s got to be so much trust there. And then your spotters have to be working together and, most likely, one of them will do all the work for both teams. It’s tough. It’s mentally tough. That’s one of the reasons I like it so much.”
In the most recent superspeedway race, Martin pushed teammate Jeff Gordon for the majority of the day at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on April 17. The duo battled for the lead on the final lap and crossed the line with Gordon third and Martin eighth.
“There is a huge challenge that goes into this style of racing that we don’t typically see every weekend,” Martin said. “I know it’s a lot to get used to, but I love it. I’m looking forward to getting back out there and working with Jeff (Gordon) again.”
In Saturday’s Cup event, Martin will make his 53rd start at the 2.5-mile track. Daytona is only one of four active Cup tracks where Martin has yet to earn a victory, but he has scored nine top-five finishes and 18 top-10s there.
Crew chief Lance McGrew has chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-632 for the 400-mile event, the same chassis that Martin drove to top-10 finishes at Daytona and at Talladega with Gordon this season.
“I don’t think anybody knows why some cars work better together,” McGrew said. “It’s always seemed to be that way, in this style of racing or in the older, bigger packs. The same can be said for deciding which car is a better pusher and which is a better leader in this tandem style. The smallest detail can swing a car one way or the other. We scrutinize everything on these cars and there are differences that dictate what a car is better at; they are virtually undetectable.”
Watch Martin and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates compete in Daytona’s 160-lap Cup event Saturday on TNT at 7:30 p.m. ET.