Monster Kind To Martin

They call it the Monster Mile and over the years Dover International Speedway has more than lived up to its reputation as a ferocious mile-long monster of a race track. During its time, one-mile oval has gotten the better of many of the greatest drivers in the world, including Dale Earnhardt Inc. veteran Mark Martin. However, no driver has been able to find the pulse of the great monster better than Martin, who has won at Dover in all three of NASCAR’s major series.

What is the secret to that success? The attack says Martin.

“It’s not a track that calls for a lot of finesse,” said Martin, who will make his 44th Sprint Cup start at Dover this weekend. “You just have to attack it. You go into that place and you let it all hang out. You just drive like an animal.

“The first time I went there in 1982, I loved it from the start. We actually ran top five in our first race there. It’s an awesome track and there is no cooler place in the world to race. It is definitely one of the tracks that always comes up when I’m asked about my favorites.”

Since finishing fifth in his first start at Dover on May 16, 1982, Martin has gone on to tame the “Monster” on every level. He is the only driver to have won races at Dover in the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series’. In fact, the first of Martin’s 90 NASCAR victories came at Dover in the Budweiser 200 on May 30, 1987.

Finding victory lane in the Cup car would not come easy for Martin, who finished second there four times before breaking through to the winner’s circle on Sept. 1, 1987. Since then, Martin has scored three more Cup victories (with the latest coming in 2004) and a win in the Craftsman Truck Series race in 2006.

“We’ve had a lot of success at Dover over the years,” added Martin. “But I won’t lie, it was a thorn in my side for a lot of years. I always loved to race there and we were always good. But, we should have won there so many times in the Cup car before we did. Something would always happen. I can’t even remember how many times I blew a tire or crashed leading while dominating the race. Finally, it kind of all came together and we’ve had a lot of success there since then.”

This weekend Martin goes into Dover for the first time as the driver of the No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet. Close on a couple of occasions in 2008, Martin and the No. 8 Team are both hungry for victory, and they would love for that trip to victory lane to come at the expense of the Monster Mile.

“I’m excited about getting out there and seeing what we can do with this No. 8 U.S. Army Team,” said Martin, who finished seventh at Dover last spring and fourth in the fall.

“I finished fourth here last year in the No. 01 car and I think we were right behind that No. 8 car, so hopefully we both can put that together and build on what we have. It’s always been a strong track for me and these guys have won there as well (2001). I would expect that we will have a pretty good car. Hopefully we can build on that and be there looking for the win at the end.

“I’ve won four times there in the Cup car, but my last win there was in 2004 and it was actually the last race before they started giving out the trophy that looked like the Monster. I have one of those from the truck win, but I think another one would look really good on the shelf. Hopefully we’ll be able to make a run at it this weekend.”

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