Martin Looks Up To Martinsville

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. - Following his victory at Kansas, Mark Martin was criticized for his "pessimistic view" about his chances in the championship.

For a man who has finished in second place for the NEXTEL Cup championship four times in his career, having a pessimistic outlook is understandable. However, in the last two weeks, something must have changed because Martin seems quite upbeat about the remaining five weeks in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Season, especially as he walks around the garage preparing for this weekend's Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

"I'm tired of being called a pessimist, that's ridiculous. It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of," said the veteran driver before making a very bold declaration for the weekend. "This is the first time I've come to Martinsville in years with a lot of confidence. I'm going to tell you right now, we are going to win on Sunday."

The veteran driver in the Jack Roush stable concedes that his "momentum" style of driving is not suited for the track, yet he feels confident that he will improve his 14.4 finishing average and return to Victory Lane for the second time in 15 races at the .526 mile short track.

Having confirmed that next year is a "done deal," Martin continues to have a laser-like concentration on the remaining five races in the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup."

"I feel really confident about this race, as confident as I felt before Charlotte where I usually run good," said the driver of the Viagra Ford, who will be behind the wheel of the same car he drove to third during the spring race at this track.

Despite qualifying in 35th place, the worst amongst the "Chase" contenders, the bright smile on Martin's face is sure to remain. "It makes me mad to qualify poorly, but it doesn't have any real major bearing on the outcome (this weekend)."

While there are various reasons for the extra bounce in his step, the Batesville, Ark native keeps clear that he continues to strive for success because of the "heroes" in the pits.

"I raced for 25th place in 2003, but these guys made a winner out of me. I'll do anything for them, anything. These guys have given me the best year in my career," said Martin, who wants to reward his team in the best way possible. "Delivering them something like we did in Kansas, that's the best way. Thanks are nice, but they don't make them feel as good as standing in victory lane. It's that feeling, money can't buy."

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