Raceday: Dover

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Ask Mark Martin about his plans for the future and he'll tell you the next race is all he's thinking about.

And with Dover next on the NEXTEL Cup schedule, Martin is looking forward to his next assignment.

"It’s awesome," Martin said. "It’s obviously one of my favorite places to race. It always has been. The stats don’t show near the performance that we’ve had. I can remember coming up here, out of the first 15 times I came up here, at least half of the time we blew a tire out and piled the wall while we were running really good. So there’s been so many times when wins or top fives were foiled by tires blowing out, so it doesn’t even show how well we’ve run here over the past and how much I love this place."

Martin is in the thick of the battle for this year's NEXTEL Cup title, coming into Sunday's Dover race sixth in the standings after one race of the "Chase."

And as he wraps up what is supposed to be his last season as a full-time NEXTEL Cup driver - again - Martin remains as focused as ever at trying to win that elusive championship, despite the task being more difficult than ever in his mind.

"It feels like to me that things are harder for me this year than ever before and I say that meaning there is so much competition out on the race track and there are so many obstacles in between me and getting that great performance," Martin said. "There are obstacles and they’re all small, but they’re just everywhere and it makes my job incredibly difficult. From every little aspect of it it’s so competitive, so I feel my job is more difficult than it’s ever been and I’m not 27 anymore either."

While he fights for the title in the last nine races of the season, Martin also continues to battle the rumors that seemingly pop up daily about his plans for 2007.

One things is certain, Martin will run the entire Craftsman Truck Series schedule for Jack Roush, plus an additional limited Cup schedule in the No. 60 entry sharing duties with Boris Said.

"They’re working on it," Martin said. "They’ve been in contact, so they’re working on it now. That’s a step further than last week. I can’t imagine any other scenario for me in 2007 but racing the No. 6 truck and I’m actively working right now to try to secure sponsorship for the 60 car for 10-12 races. It’s not done, but that’s where the focus is as of today."

But even with a solid shot to win this year's title and his plans for next season pretty much solidified, Martin will never win the "Optimist of the Year" award.

"Disappointment has been a big part of my career and for me to deal with the disappointments that I have in my career, I can’t expect to win here Sunday," he said. "I can’t deal with that. What I can expect is to run good and to give everything we’ve got, and if I do that and we win, it’s a great day. If I do that and we don’t win, then I did just what I said I was gonna do – I was gonna give it everything that I had. So that’s sort of how I’ve dealt with that stuff."

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