Martin Not Slowing Down
April 20, 2006 | 10:39 A.M. EST
After getting called back for another year of NEXTEL Cup duty by car owner Jack Roush, Martin hasn't missed a beat. He's third in the point standings, only 46 behind leader Jimmie Johnson heading into Saturday night's Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
The solid start had some people speculating whether Martin would continue his stellar full-time NEXTEL Cup career next season, a scenario the veteran quickly shot down.
"I've got to be careful about saying 'never,' but there may be a situation where I fill-in or whatever," said Martin, who admitted during a visit to Lowe's Motor Speedway earlier this week he could be called upon as a pinch hitter. "I'm just not going to say it couldn't happen. ...There is some wiggle room and I just can't say 'never,' but there's no plans."
Martin's consistency is once again on full display this season with the No. 6 Ford posting five top-10 finishes in the season's first seven races.
"I can't say enough about the job this race team has done this season," Martin said. "We've been competitive in a number of races and we've been able to get solid finishes on days where we didn't have the best car. The team continues to work really hard and I'm excited about what we feel we can accomplish as a team this season."
Martin has made 19 career Cup starts at Phoenix and has eight top-five finishes including a win in the fall race.
He had two mediocre runs last year, finishing 16th and 14th, but crew chief Pat Tryson thinks the team will be able to make the proper adjustments to be more competitive Saturday night.
"We've been a little off at Phoenix in the past couple of years so we'll have our work cut out of us this weekend making sure that we find what we need out there," Tryson said. "Mark has had a lot of success at Phoenix, so we know that he's capable of getting it done, we just have to make sure that we give him the car to do it and then we are able to help out with fast pit stops. If everyone is on their game, I'm confident that we can get out of there with a good finish."
Martin also acknowledges the Phoenix problems of recent years, but is still confident things can turnaround this weekend.
"We've had pretty good success there over the years," he said. "We haven't had our best runs the last few times we were out there, but we are hoping to get that corrected and put together a solid finish this weekend."