June 18, 2012
By Matthew Pizzolato
There's no such thing as a driver with more class than Mark Martin. Throughout his career, he's always raced every other driver on the track cleanly and rarely resorts to the bump-and-run tactic to win a race.
And that is exactly what Joey Logano did to Martin last weekend at Pocono. Martin took the lead on the final restart and had the race won, but got loose in the turn. His mistake allowed Logano to get close enough to nudge him up the track and pass him for the win.
Some people say Logano shouldn't have done something like that to a legend like Martin. Why not? He did what he had to in order to win the race, and he didn't wreck Martin in the process. All he did was move him out of the way enough to make the pass. Martin still finished second.
The bump-and-run is a tactic that has been used in NASCAR for many years. It was made famous by Dale Earnhardt who earned the nickname "The Intimidator" because he used it so much. So why ridicule Logano for doing something that has been acceptable in the sport for years?
After the race, Martin was asked what he thought of Logano's performance.
"He raced for it. He was fast from day one of testing. He certainly didn't get that one handed to him, especially my pulling off that last restart. So, you know, maybe things will start to turn," Martin was quoted as saying in a press conference at Pocono. "He's been kind of in a stall in his career or in his progression with the Cup Series, but it looks like the last couple of weeks that maybe that's starting to turn.
"I've always known since I saw him drive at 11 years old that he could be a Cup champion. I knew it then."
Logano, on the other hand, has no qualms about doing whatever it took to get to Victory Lane.
"I knew my car was better than his and the clean air is worth so much. Jason Ratcliff (crew chief) and the guys gave me one heck of a car. The brake package on this thing was amazing," Logano was quoted as saying in a press conference after the race. "I was able to out-brake a lot of guys into (turn) one all day and made some passes there. I didn't want to get in the back of Mark (Martin) there, but he was kind of running in with speed and he was getting free. I just kind of stayed right there.
"I saw the bobble coming off of (turn) three and it's my chance. It's so hard to pass. Had about one shot to get him and to really get it back. I was going to be on suicide watch if I gave it away like that. But, man, it was awesome to get it back."
Mark Martin has 40 wins in the Sprint Cup Series to his credit and will more than likely one day be voted into the Hall of Fame. Although he's never won a championship, he's finished second in the final standings five times. He's been called by ESPN, "the best driver to never win a championship."
Martin's always raced his way but one has to wonder how many wins that's cost him and how many championships he would have if he'd taken a few pages from The Intimidator's book. Still, being able to accumulate 40 wins racing so cleanly is a testament to his talent behind the wheel.
If you would like to learn more about Matthew, please check out his web site at matthew-pizzolato.com.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.