The Grey Fox Goes Old School To Win The Southern 500
Topics: Mark Martin, Southern 500
May 12, 2009
The NASCAR Sprint Cup is full of young guns, but the older generation still has a trick or two to use. Such was the case in the Southern 500 at Darlington when Mark Martin came to the front at the end of the race and rode to the victory.
From Kyle Busch to Denny Hamlin to a host of other young drivers, NASCAR seems to have moved from one generation to another when it comes to the men behind the wheel. It makes me feel old to think Jeff Gordon is one of the veterans on the circuit. While this generational change is undeniable, a few of the old boys are still around. Mark Martin certainly carries their flag and carries it well.
The Southern 500 at Darlington is a marquee event on the schedule and a beauty of a race. The track is unique and so are the driving skills needed to conquer it. While the race set a record for the most cautions ever, one driver stayed clean throughout – Mark Martin. Once the final third of the race came around, he charged to the front never to be headed again.
Martin’s drive was particularly old school in that he used a particular technique that proved unbeatable. The tendency of most drivers at Darlington is to drive deep into the corner and then coast around the corner. This allows for a quick entry, but a slower exit as the car fades towards the wall. Time after time, you saw drivers get up to that wall and lose their momentum. Martin took a different tack.
Martin decided to go into the corner slower, but also lower on the track. While he gave up space on the entry, he was able to hit the gas and explode out of the corner quickly. This not only gave him a jump on cars following him, but got him up to speed quicker on the straight. It was like watching a flash back to the days of Darrel Waltrip, Richard Petty and the Allison brothers who did the same thing. It was old school and it won the race for him.
Mark Martin is as old school as it gets on the NASCAR circuit. His victory in the Southern 500 was something to see and the news he’ll be racing again in 2010 means it is a good bet we’ll see more of the old school victories coming around.
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