NASCAR is a religion in America. But the God of this category has never been holy. His name ? Marc Martin
Stirling Moss made Formula 1 history by becoming world runner-up four times in a row between 1955 and 1958, behind his favourite, Juan-Manuel Fangio. So we logically wondered if the first category of motoring was the only one that had a legend tinged with loss in its ranks. A “champion without a crown”. And it must be said that NASCAR has an even more resilient driver in defeat than Moss. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Marc Martin
1990, founding date of Martin’s legend
The love affair between Mark Martin and NASCAR began in 1981. Mark tried his hand in the early years and contended for the title for the first time in 1989. His opponent? Dale Earnhardt, true legend of the discipline. But that doesn’t impress Martin. The American driver won three races, finished in the top 5 sixteen times and topped the standings sixteen times.
But Martin’s season will turn Richmond around. Victorious, Mark Martin is handed a 46 point penalty for having a carburettor welded to his car, rather than bolted on. An anomaly that gave him no performance gain, but the rules are the rules dear friends. At the end of the season, Mark finished second, 26 points behind Earnhardt, and became the first driver to lose a car championship due to a carburetor repair problem. The legend is on.
1994, the white flag of hostilities
Four years later, Mark Martin achieves the feat of being runner-up again. This time, for suspense, we will wait. With eight retirements, Martin finished 444 points behind that devil Dale Earnhardt.
However, the pinnacle of this season is not his qualifying, but his race at Bristol. Mark is about to seal a resounding victory, when the boy collapses in the pits one lap from the finish, for no reason. Or at least yes. This genius has confused the white flag, which means there is still one lap to go, with the checkered flag. We are facing a crack, quite simply. Mark finishes 11th, and doesn’t know where to go at the finish.
“It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever done” Mr. Martin
1998 – 2002, regularity pays off
The relationship between Mark Martin and his NASCAR runner-up titles is quite special. It could be compared to the Olympics; every four years, this is the event you cannot miss. After 1990 and 1994, the 1998 edition is no exception to the rule. Still, Mark certainly rode his best. No less than 7 wins and 22 top 5s during the season. But one Jeff Gordon insisted on inflicting a third near-crown on NASCAR. the scoundrel
Are you really wondering when Mark Martin’s next second place finish in the championship will take place? Really? The four-year cycle continues on its merry way, and brings us a date in 2002. At the wheel of his legendary Viagra Ford Taurus, Mark Martin takes his car to second place in the championship for the fourth time in his career.
2009, Martin closes the loop
In 2009, Mark once again had an incredible season in NASCAR. Five wins and seven pole positions later, the Arkansas native is aiming for a first crown. In front of him, three-time defending NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. And Martin is no match for his competitor, missing out on the title by 141 points. As they say in America, never three without four.
“There is no frustration. I am very proud of what we have achieved. For me, to have an opportunity is pretty incredible.” Mr. Martin
If Jimmie Johnson wins the championship for the fourth time in a row, Mark Martin is clearly closer to our values. A fifth NASCAR runner-up title. When asked if he really has the weapons to win a title in his career, Mark Martin does not hesitate to step up. And deliver a first lunar prophecy.
“I don’t care what people predict, it’s none of my business” Mr. Martin
The following year, he finished 13th and just missed out on the Cup chase. In fact, only the top 12 drivers can fight for the title. A new concept of second place in a way. But it’s not over, the Arkansas driver is also asked if Jimmie Johnson will be the favorite next year. Visibly frustrated with his umpteenth second place finish, Mark is quick to chastise the reporter who asked that question.
“How would we know Jimmie Johnson is going to be the man to beat in 2010? Mr. Martin
Jimmie Johnson will be champion in 2010 for the fifth time in a row. Mark, this fortune teller. But Martin is mostly 40 wins, 56 poles, 453 Top 10s and five NASCAR runner-up titles. To pay tribute to his immense career, ESPN newspaper named him “the greatest driver never to win a championship”. The class in Arkansas.
In 2017, NASCAR decided to bring Mark Martin into their fold hall of fame. The bare minimum for such a genius.