Martin Down On His Luck

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Eight races are in the books for 2003 and Mark Martin and the Viagra Racing Team have posted mixed results. Martin sits at 14th in the Winston Cup Championship point's race, just 37 points outside of 10th place. Martin has had extremely fast cars in 2003 and his performance on track has actually been up from a year ago, when he finished second in the championship race - only 38 points short of the title.

However, while Martin's performance may be up, his luck is down. Through no fault of his on, Martin has gotten caught up in accident in two of the last three races. In fact, Martin has finished no worse than eighth in races of which he has completed every lap this season. He has four top-eight finishes in 2003, including three top-fives. Martin has only failed to finish eighth or better in races that he either got caught up in accidents or experienced mechanical problems.

If not for bad luck Martin would surely sit near or at the top of the Winston Cup rankings. Even in a couple of his strongest finishes in 2003, Martin was forced to battle bad luck. Martin had the fastest car at Darlington, but a late mishap in the pits with a lug nut cost him a strong shot at victory. Martin went on to finish fourth in the race, despite having to pass several cars in the race's final laps.

An ill-timed caution at Texas two weeks ago forced Martin to the back of the field, despite having one of the fastest cars on the day. Again, Martin was forced to battle his way back to the front where he went on to finish fifth. Last week at Talladega after qualifying tenth, Martin only lasted three laps before getting caught up in the 'big one', a wreck that involved 26 cars and cost Martin 34 laps. Despite heavy damage to the car's right side, Martin was still able to return to the track for a 26th-place finish, while posting times as fast as the leaders.

"I tell you what, we just haven't been lucky," said Martin on Sunday. "This ViagraĆ¢ Racing Team has done a tremendous job this season. We've had great cars, but terrible luck.

"You keep thinking that it has to get better, and then something else happens. Still, we won't give up. If we all stay together and keep working hard, then good things will come to this race team. Things happen in racing and it's just the way it is. What happened on Sunday with the No. 12 car isn't something that anyone can control.

"In racing you have to just worry about what you can control. We couldn't control if a wreck would happen, all the team could do is work as hard and as fast as they can to get us back on the track. That was critical and they did an outstanding job. We ended up with a 26th-place finish and on top of that the car drove pretty darn good to be so beat up. Things like that can make a lot of difference in the end."

This week Martin and the No. 6 team will take to the track at Martinsville. Although it's not one of his favorite tracks, Martin has had good success over the years at Martinsville, posting 20 top-10 and 10 top-five finishes in 34 starts. In fact, he finished inside the top-10 in both races there a year ago. He has finished inside the top-10 in five of the last seven races at Martinsville and seven of the last 11.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2003, Mark Martin

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