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DATE News (chronologically)
02/19/08
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Mark Martin to make 700th start at California
Mark Martin
Mark Martin will make his 700th career Sprint Cup start this weekend when the green flag drops at California Speedway, becoming only the 13th driver in NASCAR history to reach the milestone.

The Principal Financial Group will serve as the sponsor of the No. 8 Chevrolet and will feature a paint scheme that showcases a special 700th-start logo in tribute to Martin’s accomplishments.

“It’s not really how many races you started that matters, it’s how fast you went in those races that people remember,” joked Martin when asked about the accomplishment.  “But really it says a lot about all the people that have worked on all those cars for all these years. I have to thank each and every crew chief and each and every crew guy that played a part in everything we were able to do over the past 20 plus seasons.”

Martin started his first Cup race on April 5, 1981 at North Wilkesboro Speedway. He started fifth and finished 27th; humble beginnings for what would go on to be one of the most successful careers in NASCAR history. Heading into Sunday’s event, Martin has started 699 Cup races, totaling 35 wins, 41 poles, 239 top-five finishes and 385 top 10s. In addition, he made 621 consecutive starts from 1988 to 2007 before walking away from full-time Cup racing with the points lead in hand following the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March 2007. 

“I really don’t read that much into numbers,” said Martin. “But it does mean there are a lot of things to be thankful for. I’ve been able to stay in good health and I’ve had good cars and was always able to make the race.”

During pre-race ceremonies at California Speedway, the Principal Financial Group and Dale Earnhardt Inc. (DEI) will present Martin with a commemorative green flag emblazoned with the same 700th start logo that will appear on DEI’s No. 8 Principal Financial Group Chevrolet.  Following the race, this same green flag will be signed by Martin and auctioned on e-bay with proceeds benefiting the Dale Earnhardt Foundation.

If Martin, who is running a partial schedule of 24 point races in 2008, stays on schedule he will end the year with 722 Cup starts, the ninth-most of all time. Martin will most likely pass legendary driver Bobby Allison (719) and Kenny Schrader (718).

“I’m actually very thankful for everything I have been fortunate enough to accomplish,” added Martin. “I’m thankful to everyone around me over the years that worked so hard and I’m thankful to all the fans who have stood by me for all of these years. Heck, I wish I was 25 years old and had that many ahead of me, but I’m still very thankful for everything I have been able to do in my career. It really is a dream come true.

NASCAR 700 START CLUB

1. Richard Petty..................1,185
2. Ricky Rudd........................906
3. Dave Marcis......................883
4. Terry Labonte....................851
5. Kyle Petty..........................814
6. Darrell Waltrip ...................809
7. Bill Elliott...........................776
8. Sterling Marlin ..................732
9. Bobby Allison ....................719
10. Ken Schrader ....................718
11. Rusty Wallace....................706
12. Buddy Baker .....................701
13. Mark Martin .......................699

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