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NASCAR | Mark Martin, being vice-champion is a religion

NASCAR is a religion in the United States. But the God of this category has never been sacred. Her name ? Mark Martin.

Stirling Moss marked the history of Formula 1 by becoming vice-world champion four times in a row between 1955 and 1958 behind his pet peeve, Juan-Manuel Fangio. So we logically wondered if the premier category of motorsport was the only one to have a legend tinged with lose in its ranks. A “champion without a crown”. And it must be said that NASCAR has an even more enduring driver in defeat than Moss. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mark Martin.

1990, founding date of the Martin legend

The love story between Mark Martin and NASCAR began in 1981. Mark tried his hand during the early years, and fought for the title for the first time in 1989. His opponent? Dale Earnhardt, true legend of the discipline. But that doesn’t impress Martin. The American driver won three races, finished sixteen times in the top 5 and found himself at the top of the classification sixteen times.

But Martin’s season will take a turn in Richmond. Victorious, Mark Martin sees himself inflicting a penalty of 46 points because a carburettor was welded on his car, instead of being bolted. An anomaly that gave him no performance gain, but the rules are the rules dear friends. At the end of the season, Mark finished second, 26 points behind Earnhardt, and became the first driver to lose a car championship for a carburetor fixing problem. The legend is on.

1994, the white flag of hostilities

Four years later, Mark Martin manages to achieve the feat of finishing vice-champion again. This time, for the suspense, we will wait. With eight retirements, Martin finished 444 points behind that devil Dale Earnhardt.

However, the pinnacle of this season is not his classification, but his race in Bristol. Mark is about to sign a convincing victory, when the guy plunges into the pits one lap from the finish, for no reason. Or at least if. This genius has confused the white flag, meaning that there is still one lap to go, with the checkered flag. We are dealing with a crack, quite simply. Mark finishes 11th, and does not know where to go at the finish.

“It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever done” Mr. Martin

1998 – 2002, regularity pays off

The relationship between Mark Martin and his NASCAR runner-up titles is quite special. One could compare it to the Olympiads; every four years, this is the event not to be missed. After 1990 and 1994, the 1998 edition is no exception to the rule. Still, Mark certainly rode his best. No less than 7 wins and 22 top 5s during the season. But a certain Jeff Gordon insisted on inflicting a third almost crowning in NASCAR. The rascal.

Do you really wonder when Mark Martin’s next second place in the championship will take place? Really ? The four-year-old cycle continues on its merry way, and gives us an appointment in 2002. At the wheel of his legendary Viagra Ford Taurus, Mark Martin hoists his car to second place in the championship for the fourth time in his career.

2009, the loop is closed by Martin

In 2009, Mark once again had an amazing season in NASCAR. Five victories and seven pole positions later, the Arkansas native driver is aiming for a first crown. Facing him, Jimmie Johnson, three-time defending NASCAR champion. And Martin is no match for his competitor, missing out on the title by 141 points. As they say in the States, never three without four.

“There is no frustration. I am very proud of what we have accomplished. To me, just having a chance is pretty amazing.” Mr. Martin

If Jimmie Johnson wins the championship for the fourth time in a row, Mark Martin is clearly closer to our values. A fifth NASCAR runner-up title. When asked if he really has the weapons to win a title in his career, Mark Martin does not hesitate to step up. And deliver a first lunar prophecy.

“I don’t care what people predict, it’s none of my business” Mr. Martin

The following year, he finished 13th and just missed out on the Chase for the Cup. Indeed, only the first 12 pilots can then fight for the title. A new concept of second place in a way. But it’s not over, the Arkansas driver is also asked if Jimmie Johnson will be the favorite the following year. Visibly frustrated with his umpteenth second place, Mark is quick to castigate the journalist who asked this question.

“How would we know that Jimmie Johnson will be the man to beat in 2010? Mr. Martin

Jimmie Johnson will be champion in 2010 for the fifth time in a row. Mark, this diviner. But Martin is above all 40 victories, 56 poles, 453 Top 10 and five NASCAR vice-champion titles. To pay tribute to his immense career, the ESPN newspaper named him “the best driver to never have won a championship”. The class at Arkansas.

In 2017, NASCAR decided to induct Mark Martin into its Hall of Fame. The bare minimum for such a genius.

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