He’s been referred to as the best to never win a championship in the world of motorsports. Mark Martin was Mr. Second Place, finishing second in the Cup Series standings five times in his career. Martin was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017 and was pretty honest about that induction ceremony.
Mark Martin and his early NASCAR struggles
Mark Martin began his early racing career on the dirt tracks in Arkansas. He then joined the American Speed Association, racing against the likes of Dick Trickle and Bobby Allison. During his time in the ASA, Martin won four championships.
From 1981-1987, Martin struggled to get comfortable on the NASCAR circuit. During that stretch, he raced for six different teams. In 1987, Martin got off to a quick start, racing for Bruce Lawmaster in the Busch Series. After 15 races, he had nine top-10 finishes, including two wins, Martin had some struggles in the second half, but despite them, he drew the attention of Jack Roush, who had Martin sign with him for the Winston Cup the following season.
He had an up-and-down 1988. Martin had 10 top-10 finishes and took second place at Bristol early in the year. He did have 10 DNF’s during the season and that ultimately kept him out of the top 10 in points standings. The 1989 season opened the same way as he had a DNF at the Daytona 500. Martin did get his first Winston Cup race late in the season at Rockingham.
Despite lack of titles, Martin gets the call to the Hall
Mark Martin could be considered the Dan Marino of NASCAR. He was excellent at his craft but never took home a championship. Martin’s racing, however, didn’t go unnoticed as he was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017.
Martin ran 882 races over his 31-year career in the NASCAR Cup Series and finished in the top 10 453 times. He collected 40 victories and won 56 poles during that stretch. Martin was never able to come up with a championship but finished twice in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, and 2009).
Martin had some big wins in his career, including Winston 500 victories in 1995 and 1997, and the Coca-Cola 600 in 2002 He was also a two-time winner in the Southern 500 (1993, 2009). In 1998, Martin was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. Martin was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2015 and then got the call to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017.
Martin would not have voted himself into the Hall of Fame
Mark Martin did not get the Hall-of-Fame call in 2016 and he said he never expected to. In 2017, he did and he was extremely surprised. Martin explained how his phone started blowing up and he didn’t know why. He got the call he’s appreciative of but also said he wouldn’t have voted himself in.
In July, Martin was a guest on NASCAR Weekly Podcast and explained the situation. “The first year I was eligible, I didn’t get picked,” Martin said. “And I didn’t expect to get picked the second year. On that Wednesday of the announcement, I got in my motorcoach and I drove from Arkansas to Indy for the Indy 500. I got the motorcoach all parked and everything. I was outside washing the bugs off the front when my phone blew up.
“It was something not really expected. I wouldn’t have voted that way myself. It was a little bit weird. I felt a little awkward, especially during the induction because I looked up at all the flags along the wall…my heroes, the people that built the sport. I wasn’t one of those guys and I was almost a little bit embarrassed at the time. It’s certainly the crown jewel of my career. I never hit the super home run. I didn’t win a Daytona 500 and I didn’t win a championship, but I put a lot of emphasis on winning races.” Mark Martin is one humble guy and his Hall call was well-deserved.