With the Winston Cup tour heading into Las Vegas this weekend for the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400, it seems to be a sure bet that Mark Martin just may end his desert like drought and wind up in Victory Lane early in this 2002 racing season. Martin has literally owned this one and a half mile racing facility, winning in both the Winston Cup and Busch series, he has never finished a race out of the top 10 in either series at Las Vegas Speedway.
races Newman and Jarrett at Daytona International
Martin won the inaugural Las Vegas 400 in 1998, and since then he has consistently outperformed all other drivers on the Speedway. He is the only driver to have completed every lap of all four Vegas races. Twenty-two drivers have started the race all four times, but Martin is the only one to have completed all 949 laps of the race. In addition to being the only driver to lead all four Cup races at the track, he is also the only driver to finish in the top 10 at all four races.
If consistency on the track pays off, then Martin might be the safest bet you can place in Vegas all weekend.
"It's been a race track where we have run well," said Martin. "I had one of my best runs there a year ago. I like racing at Las Vegas. I like the track and we have a good record there. It suits my driving style. It's a race that is orientated towards handling and in the past we have excelled in that area."
With 32 career Winston Cup wins, Martin stands fourth among all active drivers. Of all the victories, it may be win number 22 that stands out the most, a victory in the Las Vegas 400, the inaugural Winston Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 1998.
"The win there in '98 is probably the most memorable win I have," said Martin. "We went there, it was a brand new track and we had a brand new team looking to see what we could do."
"Once the race was all over with and we took care of all the Victory Lane stuff and all the media, we were leaving in the helicopter and I looked down at the track and it dawned on me what we had accomplished."
Martin admits that despite years of success on the track, it was in the moments after that race that he first realized just what he had accomplished.
"It was pretty overwhelming. I've had a lot of success in racing, but I never really paid much attention," said Martin. "I was always so busy looking ahead to the next one, but when I flew out of there and saw that track, it dawned on me that it wasn't just some quarter-mile dirt track in Arkansas and it dawned on me just what we had done."
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