Mark Martin must be angry at the Pocono Raceway by now. It’s hard to say that after finishing second at the track on seven different occasions, but Martin has not once been able to visit victory lane at the tricky triangle.
Martin’s career is heading towards its final stages. He’s now 54-years old, even though he’s probably more fit than the average 20-year old. However, this is his final year driving a car for Michael Waltrip Racing and he still hasn’t won a race for the team. His last win came way back in 2009 when he was driving for Hendrick Motorsports at New Hampshire.
Since then, Martin’s had four second place finishes in NASCAR‘s top circuit, but none closer to victory than last year’s race at Pocono.
After leading for four laps late in the Pocono 400, Martin was passed by Joey Logano for the victory. It was Logano’s first and only real victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. That race was the last time Martin was seriously in contention for a win in the late going. Ever since that day, he’s had some near wins, but none like that day.
Driving a part-time schedule once again this year, Martin has run well for the most part. However, he’s been involved in several wrecks this year, which is unlike him. He’s only started 11 races this year, one of which was with Joe Gibbs Racing when he replaced the severely-injured Denny Hamlin at Martinsville.
Even though he’s missed two races, he’s still inside of the top-25 in points and could easily be in contention to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup if he was running the full-schedule. Martin has led only one race this year and that was at Phoenix. Since then, it’s been a roller coaster for Martin and his MWR team.
Coming off of a ninth-place finish at Dover last weekend, Martin is bound for a good run at one of his best tracks. Though he’s never won a race at Pocono, he has an average finish of 11.1 and has led 448 laps with 34 top-10 finishes in 52 starts at the track.
Coming back to Pocono this weekend can swing momentum into his favor. It would be great for the team to have Martin go to victory lane with as much as he’s helped them grow the past two years. He’s mentoring Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer as well as helping the team build new cars that are stronger than they’ve ever been.
The team has been very strong on the larger tracks as of late, which should help Martin contend for the win come Sunday’s race.
Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.