Martin’s Winning Streak an Impressive String
Undated (AP) _ There’s no question that Mark Martin’s four-race winning streak was an impressive one.
He dominated races, won from behind and won lucky during the string that began at Watkins Glen, N.Y., on Aug. 8 and ended Sept. 11 at Richmond, Va., when he finished sixth behind Rusty Wallace.
Martin’s wins came on a road course, a two-mile, high-banked oval, a .533- mile, high-banked oval and a relatively flat, egg-shaped 1.366-mile oval.
It followed four-race streaks by Harry Gant in 1991 and Bill Elliott in 1992, but those feats simply make it clearer just how tough it would be to equal the all-time Winston Cup record of 10 straight wins, set in 1967 by Richard Petty.
″In those days, there were a lot more races and a lot less real competition,″ said Petty, now retired. ″Actually, we were running so much that nobody even paid much attention to the fact that I was winning so many races in a row.″
Petty went on to win a record 27 races that season.
Since the schedule was pared from upwards of 45 races a season to no more than 31 in 1972 - the beginning of NASCAR’s modern era - the record for consecutive wins stands at four, first set by Cale Yarborough in 1976 and equaled five times.
″To win even four in a row is an awesome feat,″ Martin said. ″It takes such an incredible combination of things to do it. You have to have great equipment, great pit stops and real good luck.″
This has been a less-than-satisfying season for Bill Elliott.
In 23 races this season, the 1988 Winston Cup champion has led a total of 10.23 miles. Elliott, with 39 career victories, has led just six laps in two races through all of 1993.
He led twice for a total of three laps on July 25 at Talladega, Ala., then led once for three laps while finishing second last weekend at Richmond.
Driving for Junior Johnson, whose team is at or near the top virtually every year, the season has been a major disappointment for Elliott, once dubbed ″Awesome Bill from Dawsonville.″
″Every time we think we’ve turned the corner, something else goes wrong,″ Elliott said. ″It’s just one of those year. But we all know this team is capable of running up front and winning races. We just have to get it turned around before the end of the season so we can build on that for next year.″
With so many big name drivers making changes for the 1994 season, the move by Ted Musgrave from Radius Racing to Roush Racing - as Mark Martin’s teammate - has gone practically unnoticed.
Yet Musgrave, 37, has been seen as most likely to rise as the next big Winston Cup star.
″I believe I’m ready to go on to the next level,″ he said. ″I could see myself winning a race next year.″
Musgrave can’t wait to hook up with team owner Jack Roush. ″I’ve been to Jack’s shop and every week the cars are taken apart and redone, keeping up with the times,″ he said.
″I know I’ll get the same equipment as Mark, and it’ll be a team effort. We hope we’ll be able to run some strategy between us, to help us win some races. ... We want to consistently be in the top 10. I can try things, experiment a little bit, and Mark can go with the proven stuff.″
Most of the top drivers in Winston Cup racing already are signed for 1994, but Jimmy Spencer is not among them.
The man who earned the nickname ″Mr. Excitement″ as a modified driver is considered the top name still without a deal for next season.
Spencer could return to Bobby Allison Motorsports, or he could move on. One possible ride would be with Junior Johnson, who has compared Spencer’s driving style to his own.
Others still up in the air with seven races remaining are Wally Dallenbach Jr., who is definitely leaving Roush Racing, and Rick Wilson, who may or may not remain with Petty Enterprises.
Richard Petty, long connected with the Republican Party as a selectman in his native North Carolina, has been honored in Washington.
Petty, who retired as an active driver following the 1992 season to become a full-time Winston Cup team owner, was the star attraction Wednesday at a luncheon given by the North Carolina Congressional Delegation and the Jefferson Island Club.
With Pontiac earning its sixth victory of the season and Ford finishing second last week at Richmond, the NASCAR Manufactuers Championship has tightened up considerably.
Going into Sunday’s race at Dover, Del., Chevrolet, which had won nine straight titles until Ford won in 1992, still leads this year’s battle. But it has gotten considerably closer, with Ford trailing 153-147. Pontiac is third with 137.
The points are awarded on a 9-6-4 basis, with the top finish by each marque in each race earning the points.
Individually, Rusty Wallace, with six victories for Pontiac, leads with 106 points. He has scored in 16 of the 23 events this season.
Chevy driver Dale Earnhardt, who also has six victories, is second with 81 points, scoring 12 times.
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