Tomorrow morning, my mom and I will get in the car and make the 5 hour trip to Pocono Raceway for a fun-filled weekend of racing. And Larry the Cable Guy (I won tickets on Twitter). This weekend also mark's a major milestone for Mark Martin at Pocono; along with racing in his first Truck race since 2007, he will be making his 50th Cup Start at the track. So in the final blog post before I go up, I'll take a look into his prior 49.
The first time Mark raced at Pocono was on June 6, 1982. He finished 26th, but when he returned in July, he finished 10th. His next Pocono race would not be until June 19, 1988, when he and Jack Roush teamed up for a 4th place finish. That started a stretch from 1988-1993 that saw 5 Top 5s and no finish worse than 15th. After inconsistency from the duo from 1993-1995, they finally found their groove in July of 1995.
Starting with the race on July 16, 1995, Mark Martin only had 1 finish outside the Top 10 until July 28, 2002. Unfortunately, that one finish was a 43rd on July 23, 2000, after blowing an engine only 25 laps into the 200 lap event. The most dominating race in that stretch was on July 21, 1996. After starting from the pole, he led 122 laps en route to a 9th place finish. His stats throughout this stretch are amazing. An average finish of 7.5 (including the 43rd place finish), an average start of 5.8 and 227 laps led. In the first race I ever saw at Pocono on TV, run on June 9, 2002, Mark led 7 laps on his way to a runner-up finish.
The final race he ran with Roush Racing was July 23, 2006, and he ran a dissapointing 19th place. With his time at Ginn Racing/Dale Earnhardt Inc., he had finishes of 7th, 9th, 10th and 8th, which are his most consistent finishes with any team. His first race with Hendrick Motorsports was June 7, 2009, and he finished 19th. But he bounced back in July with a 7th place finish. This June-July trend would continue in 2010 with, after a 29th place finish in the June race, another 7th place finish in the July race. This past June, Mark finished a dissapointing 18th, continuing the trend of bad finishes in the June race.
After 49 races, Mark Martin has an average finish of 11.2 and an average start of 8.9. He has completed 93.4% of the total laps run at Pocono, and has led 445 laps. He has also been running at the finish of 42 of his 49 races entered. With a strong run at Indianapolis and the trend of running poorly in June and running well in July, Mark's chances of a good finish this weekend are looking up. Hopefully I can cheer loudly as the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet pulls into Victory Lane for the first time in 50 starts.
**On Twitter? Add me @mmar0260185. On PSN? Add me as a friend: mmar0260185. Maybe we can race sometime.**