TBT: Mark Martin's First and Last
This year, New Hampshire Motor Speedway celebrates its 25th Anniversary. Throughout the year as part of that celebration, the Granite Stripe will throw it back on Thursday and give a small history lesson on past events at the track.
Second place. That's where Mark Martin finished in the 1993 Slick 50 300, the first Cup race ever hosted at NHMS.
He also finished there in both races in 1998, the latter of which he led a dominating 193 laps. In fact, entering the 2009 SYLVANIA 300, Mark Martin had finished in the top-five on eight separate occasions without finding his way to victory lane at NHMS.
That changed on Sept. 20, 2009 in Martin's 26th start at the track.
That season, he had resurrected his career with Hendrick Motorsports after two years of part-time duty. He won four races in the regular season, which was good enough to place the 50-year-old as the top seed to begin the Chase for the Sprint Cup at Loudon.
He didn't disappoint on his stature. He started fourth, and while it took him until Lap 204 to get up front, he led for 39 laps and then took back the lead for good on Lap 272 to lead the final 29 loops around the Magic Mile.
The win allowed Martin to hold the points lead for two more races before getting stuck in second to the eventual champion, Jimmie Johnson. It marked the fifth time in his career that the championship eluded him in favor of the dubious first runner-up distinction.
His first career victory at NHMS would prove to be more significant when he officially retired after the 2013 season. That SYLVANIA 300 win would become the final of 40 Cup Series victories in Martin's 31-year career.