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Inaugural Vegas Victory Still Magical for Martin

NASCAR
Wednesday, February 27, 2008

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Mark Martin has visited victory lane on many occasions during his 26 year plus NASCAR career.  In fact, the veteran of 700 Cup starts has hoisted NASCAR trophies more times than he can recall. However, his victory in the 1998 inaugural Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) is one of the few instances where Martin allowed himself to take a moment and reflect on the accomplishment. 

Mark Martin makes his 701st start at Vegas, and looking for his first win since 2005
“Very rarely in my career have I allowed myself to stop for a second and think about a win,” said Martin, who will make his first start at Vegas for Dale Earnhardt Inc. this Sunday. “I was always a lot more focused on the next race or what we needed to do to get better.

“But that day as we left the track, I can remember looking down from the helicopter at the track and thinking, “wow.” This wasn’t some dirt track win. It was a big deal to win at Vegas and we had done just that. It was and still is a very special win for me.”

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the inaugural Cup run at Las Vegas and Martin’s victory. He led 82 laps en route to the win, the 23rd of his career. It would be the first of a career-high seven for Martin during the 1998 season. The victory would also kick off one of the most successful runs in LVMS history, becoming the first of a series-high eight top-10 finishes for Martin at the 1.5-mile track.

In fact, in 10 starts at LVMS Martin has finished inside the top five 50 percent of the time, including a fifth-place result in last year’s event.  No other driver has scored as many points at the D-shaped oval and 72 of his career 258 laps led there have come in his last two races.

“Really it’s hard to believe it has been 10 years since that win,” said Martin. “I’ve always loved the track at Las Vegas and we’ve had some great runs there over the years. We have not been able to get back to victory lane, but we’ve been really fast.”

In addition to Martin’s accolades in the Cup series at Las Vegas, he boasts two wins, two poles and four top-10 finishes in four starts in the Nationwide Series, including a win in his 2005 start. He will make his first Nationwide start at the track since then this Saturday behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet.

Martin started the inaugural race in 1998 with a brand new team and uncertain promise. This year he will do the same, as he sits behind the wheel of the No. 8 U.S. Army/Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet for just the third time. He would like nothing more than to make his return to the Vegas victory lane – 10 years after his first visit.

“Tony Gibson, this No. 8 team and everyone at Dale Earnhardt Inc., have been awesome to work with,” said Martin. “They’re really on their game and they are a great group of guys to work with. We missed the setup and were a little off at California last week, but not one person on this team gave up. I like the fight that I see in this team, and I know we have some really good runs ahead of us. I’m confident we can win races and it would be really cool to get the first one this weekend in Las Vegas.”

Career Sprint Cup Starts

Year

Age Races Win Top 5 Top 10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank Avg
Start
Avg
Finish
1981 22 5 of 31 0 1 2 2 1478 76 $13,950 43 3.6 15.0
1982 23 30 of 30 0 2 8 0 7450 4 $115,600 16 15.1 19.5
1983 24 16 of 30 0 1 3 0 4130 1 $99,665 30 15.6 21.0
1986 27 5 of 29 0 0 0 0 1342 0 $20,515 48 15.2 21.8
1987 28 1 of 29 0 0 0 0 68 0 $3,550 103 41.0 39.0
1988 29 29 of 29 0 3 10 1 7605 123 $189,400 30 11.5 19.1
1989 30 29 of 29 1 14 18 6 9010 480 $605,878 3 5.3 10.7
1990 31 29 of 29 3 16 23 4 9636 451 $803,095 31 5.4 6.6
1991 32 29 of 29 1 14 17 5 8907 663 $805,105 102 7.9 12.0
1992 33 29 of 29 2 10 17 1 8954 533 $809,505 21 8.1 12.4
1993 34 30 of 30 5 12 19 5 9381 1349 $1,151,890 3 8.8 11.6
1994 35 31 of 31 2 15 20 1 9549 733 $1,059,237 2 8.1 11.7
1995 36 31 of 31 4 13 22 4 9393 740 $1,499,446 4 8.4 10.7
1996 37 31 of 31 0 14 23 4 9064 702 $1,500,555 5 8.8 11.3
1997 38 32 of 32 4 16 24 3 9597 798 $1,806,550 3 11.0 9.0
1998 39 33 of 33 7 22 26 3 9830 1730 $2,998,870 2 8.9 8.6
1999 40 34 of 34 2 19 26 1 9903 700 $2,652,296 3 8.2 9.4
2000 41 34 of 34 1 13 20 0 9240 493 $2,663,605 8 11.0 13.6
2001 42 36 of 36 0 3 15 2 10138 190 $3,419,897 12 15.6 17.9
2002 43 36 of 36 1 12 22 0 10517 363 $4,183,150 2 16.0 12.2
2003 44 36 of 36 0 5 10 0 9544 159 $3,951,043 17 20.7 20.3
2004 45 36 of 36 1 10 15 0 10403 465 $3,792,997 4 15.3 13.8
2005 46 36 of 36 1 12 19 0 10306 324 $4,823,833 4 15.5 13.2
2006 47 36 of 36 0 7 15 0 10455 292 $4,142,613 9 16.1 14.3
2007 48 24 of 36 0 5 11 0 6405 67 $3,913,668 27 16.3 14.5
2008 49 2 of 36 0 0 0 0 450 0 $430,054 24 14.0 23.5
26 years 700 35 239 385 42 202755 11436 $47,455,967 12.7 15.1

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