I have not regularly watched racing since Mark Martin's final season in 2006. Though, I did catch the 2007 Daytona 500, as I thought it might even be his final chance to win that race. I was devastated when he was passed on the final lap. I thought for sure that the Cubs of NASCAR was at least going to get the Daytona 500 victory that he so deserved that year since he was never able to quite capture the Cup Championship he has always deserved. .02 seconds. That was it, as Harvick passed him by. Second place. Always second place.
I remember my unwarranted anger toward his former teammate (former by just one race) Matt Kenseth, for helping push Harvick past Mark. Mark Martin, a true class act. A man that must be a great teammate. A man that would have still helped Kenseth push past Harvick had the roles been reversed. Kenseth goes and pushes Harvick past Martin. He helps Harvick. He stabs Martin in the back. And, so perhaps my anger is still there.
Damn overtime rules. Damn green, white, checker. Years ago, that race belonged to Mark. Mark won the Daytona 500. Mark failed to win the Daytona 505. The things NASCAR has done over recent years that have ruined the purity of the races are numerous as they try to keep the popularity they suddenly gained in the '90s. Whether it be green, white, checker or their new tendency to call cautions for no reason just to get the pack closer together and sometimes seemingly just to get golden boys Jimmie Johnson or Junior closer to the front. Or the horrible Chase. A points system that worked for decades is no longer good enough.
True, this Chase nearly helped Martin in 2002, but he's been second place before this wretched system ('98, '94, and '90), and he has finished in the top 10 in points in every year he has raced a full season since 1989 except 2001 and 2003. He returned to fourth place finishes in 04 and 05, shutting up all those who thought he was over the hill. And he was winning the standings when his 'retirement' became official in 2007. How I wished he would change his mind. The full time 8 ride was offered to him, and he turned it down. He stuck to his guns.
But now he's back. He's starting the Daytona 500 second. Kind of where he left off really. And I am back, paying attention to NASCAR. More importantly, paying attention to Mark's final season. Hoping he can get both, that Daytona 500 victory, and the Cup Championship that he deserves before his racing days, and my watching days, are done.
#6 - Forever.