After four races, Hendrick Motorsports driver Mark Martin has to be the biggest shock of the 2009 Sprint Cup season. He sits 35th in points, nine points ahead of Aric Almirola and having to qualify for races on speed.
Martin has experienced a ton of misfortune to start this season. He was running fourth in the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway when he ran over a piece of debris, cutting a tire and severly damaging his No. 5 Kelloggs/Carquest Chevy. He finished 31st.
During the previous two races, the Shelby 427 from Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the Auto Club 500 from Auto Club Speedway (Fontana), he experienced engine failures that gave him a pair of 40th place finishes.
His 16th-place finish in the Daytona 500 looks pretty good right now, compared to his finishes in the last three races.
Crew cheif Alan Gustafson was expected to meet with Martin to discuss how the team can save its season. The problem is, it hasn’t been mistakes as much as it has been bad luck.
The Daytona 500 was called early due to rain. If it hadn’t been, Martin may have finished better than 16th. He won the pole at Atlanta and was running in the top 5 when his tire blew.
He didn’t have winning cars at Las Vegas or Fontana, but he certainly could have finished better than 40th.
As a result of the misfortune, Martin is changing his focus from the Chase and championship to winning races. He is mathematically still in contention, but he knows that making up points on one person is easier than making up points on 34 people.
So, for now, Martin is concentrating on winning his first race since 2005.