Martin In Position For Fifth IROC Title

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Mark Martin is the only driver to win four IROC championships, and his intention this year is to make it five. Martin claimed the title in 1994, 1996, 1997 and 1998. Last year he missed his fifth title by one point.

"I knew it would be tough to win last year since Dale Earnhardt won every race except Indy," Martin said. "I went into the final race having to win and lead the most laps to get every point I could. I did that, but I also needed Earnhardt to finish worse than eighth, which he didn't. I finished second in the final standings by just one point. This year things are looking a little more even heading into the final two races."

Martin is third in IROC points, trailing first place Earnhardt by nine points. With just Michigan and Indianapolis remaining, two tracks where he has seen much IROC success, his chances are good to win his fifth title.

"I've only won an IROC race at Michigan once (1996), but I'm usually lucky enough to be in a position to win," Martin said. "This will be my ninth IROC race there, and my worst finish has been eighth. The other seven starts have all been top-five finishes. I've won both of the IROC races held at Indy. I'm really looking forward to the final two races. The first two at Daytona and Talladega were pretty exciting for the fans and a lot of fun for the drivers."

The first race at Daytona came down to the last lap when Martin decided to draft with Roush Racing teammate Jeff Burton to pass Earnhardt. At the same time, Tony Stewart followed Earnhardt to push him across the finish line. Martin had to settle for fourth place behind Earnhardt, Stewart and Burton.

The Talladega event also came down to the final laps. Martin was leading with 10 laps to go, but the second- and third-place cars teamed up against him in the final laps. Martin finished second behind Bobby Labonte.

"It will be a nice change to have the final two races at tracks that don't require drafting," Martin said. "This way the race will really be based more on skill than on who your friends are that will draft with you. You are on your own at Michigan and Indy. I'd sure like to go to Indy leading the points. It wouldn't make it easier, but it would be nice."

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