TALLADEGA, Ala. – Mark Martin has been racing at Talladega Superspeedway since 1982, and the NASCAR veteran has watched racing evolve from pack style to two-car tandems. As a result, his mood isn’t as strained when he thinks about strapping into the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet at the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
“Everyone knows I’m not a huge fan of this type of racing,” Martin said. “But, I will say, that I actually enjoyed it a lot more at Daytona this year than I have in a long time. I’d rather do those two-car tandems all day than run in one big 35-car pack like we used to.”
Earlier this season, Martin experienced the bump-draft style of racing at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway where he rallied from running 30th in the field to 10th-place finish. Martin prefers the two-car tandem style of racing.
“There’s a lot that goes into this now,” Martin said. “There’s a lot of trust that factors in with your partner. A lot of strategy on who to work with. Then you have your spotters working together because one of them will spot for both cars. And you have that team on your team’s radio. It’s a whole new deal out there that everyone is still sorting out and getting used to. It’s interesting for sure. I love it.”
Martin has made 46 Cup appearances at the superspeedway, and along with his two trips to Victory Lane, he has earned 11 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s. Last October, Martin started 30th at Talladega and led two laps before finishing 11th in the 500-mile event. In this race last year, he started 10th and led one lap on his way to a fifth-place finish.
During this weekend, Martin also will host his 7th Annual Fan Appreciation Days in his hometown of Batesville, Ark. He will be joined by teammate Jeff Gordon on Saturday to sign autographs and answer fans' questions.
Martin and the No. 5 team are ranked 15th in the Sprint Cup standings as they head into this weekend’s 188-lap event. The green flag is scheduled to drop at the Alabama superspeedway at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.