NASCAR Cup: Mark Martin selected for NMPA Hall of Fame induction
Mark Martin (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
The National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) will induct retired NASCAR driver Mark Martin into its Hall of Fame at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Jan. 22, 2017.
Martin was the only nominee selected for 2017 induction, as requirements call for potential inductees to receive votes on 65 percent of the cast ballots. Martin received votes on 95 percent of the ballots cast by NMPA membership. Other nominees for 2017 induction but falling short of the 65 percent requirement include crew chiefs Kirk Shelmerdine, Buddy Parrott and Larry McReynolds and track public relations director Dick Thompson. Statistician Bob Latford and driver Dan Gurney also received write-in votes.
“Those guys are heroes of mine,” Martin said. “It is just such an incredible honor to be considered along with them. I feel very fortunate and blessed, but most of all, I’m thankful, very thankful.”
Martin retired from NASCAR premier-level competition at the end of the 2013 season after making 882-career series starts, resulting in 40 wins, 271 top-fives and 453 top-10 finishes. The bulk of his Cup-level wins came with Roush Fenway Racing, where he visited victory lane 35 times. After brief stints at Ginn Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing, Martin joined Hendrick Motorsports late in his career and claimed five additional wins.
Martin has long been considered by many in the NASCAR community as the best driver to never win a championship at the Cup level. He finished second in the season-ending championship points standings five times throughout his career.
Martin also found significant success in the NASCAR Busch (now-Xfinity) Series. His 49-career wins in that series was a record until he was surpassed in the wins column by Kyle Busch several seasons ago.
“Mark drove so much by just raw feel,” Alan Gustafson, Martin’s crew chief at Hendrick Motorsports, said. “His ability just to flat-out drive a car — no markers, no signs, no nothing — he was really good at that, which produced some amazing lap times. We’ve all seen it. Mark Martin — first lap on the track — is just insane, because he doesn’t have to figure out where he’s at; he just drives by feel. He was open to working on things and doing things, but he just did it a different way than drivers like Jeff (Gordon), Kyle (Busch) and Chase (Elliott).”