Originally created 09/24/05

Martin hoping for 'old-school racing' at Dover



DOVER, Del. - Mark Martin is hoping his version of "old-school racing" will be the order of business Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

Martin wants less squabbling, fewer cautions and more hard racing. He agrees with the position of NASCAR, which issued a series of fines, point reductions and threats of even greater punishment for future indiscretions after several drivers lost their cool on and off the track last weekend at New Hampshire International Speedway.

"First and foremost, we need as a group to stop wrecking all the time," Martin said Friday before qualifying seventh for the MBNA 400. "There's no point in that and, hopefully, maybe we'll make some headway with that."

Martin, hoping to become the only active driver with five career victories on The Monster Mile, figures to benefit from a clean race. He's seventh in points - 54 behind leader Tony Stewart - with nine races remaining on the schedule.

Seeking his first championship after nearly two decades on the circuit, Martin hopes cautions can be held to a minimum. He knows bunching the field for restarts causes more yellow flags than anything else.

"The amount of cautions that we have to start with is ridiculous," he said. "Some are for drink bottles and rollbar padding, which we shouldn't be having, but the others are because parts are falling off these race cars because they're wrecked."

Martin would like the younger drivers to show a little more patience, but understands why they're so anxious to succeed.

"Most of the wrecks are not with veteran drivers," he explained. "At the same time, believe me, there's a lot of pressure in this business, and I think people are feeling the pressure and think that taking the risk on wrecking is worth the reward."

Martin, who last won here in June 2004, also has finishes of second and third in his last three starts on the high-banked concrete oval. His toughest competition Sunday should be from Stewart and Ryan Newman, the winner in New Hampshire who also took the pole here Friday.

Defending race champion Newman has won three of the last four events at Dover. But he knows there are no guarantees here.

"Tires can be a real issue at Dover due to aggressive setup combinations," he explained. "It's not rare to see some right front tires go down throughout the race. Once a tire goes down there, your car is headed towards the wall and it's not going to be pretty. Dover just has a way of eating you up."

As expected, Newman is upbeat after moving from 10th to a tie for third after the first of 10 races in the Chase for the Nextel Cup - NASCAR's playoffs, limited to the top 10 drivers.

"Winning at Loudon was great," Newman said. "There's no better way to start the Chase off, especially when you're 10th in points.

But he's not about to relax despite moving within 40 points of Stewart.

"We need a string of nine top-five finishes to win this thing," Newman said. "So, that's what we're trying to do."

Stewart, who qualified 31st Friday, is seeking to break a tie with Greg Biffle, who won here in June, with a sixth victory this season. Stewart swept the races here in 2000.

"We've looked at the schedule and said, 'OK, these are tracks where we've had success in the past,'" the 2002 series champion said of Dover and some of the other remaining venues. "It definitely makes you feel better, but at the same time, every week is a different week and you've got to take it one week at a time.

"You never know what's going to happen. There are always variables that are out of your control each week. Even though we've had some success in the past at some of these places, it's no guarantee that we're going to have success this time around."