Mark Martin

Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman climb up NASCAR record book

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A bit overlooked from last weekend’s race at ISM Raceway was that both Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman moved up a spot for most consecutive Cup starts.

Both started their 580th consecutive Cup race last weekend. That moved them ahead of Ken Schrader (579 career starts) into ninth on the all-time list. Kevin Harvick has 572 consecutive starts. He’s set to pass Schrader at Kansas in May.

Next for Johnson and Newman is Mark Martin, who made 621 career Cup starts.

Jeff Gordon is the record holder with 797 consecutive starts. At this point, both Johnson, who is 42 years old, and Newman, who is 40, would need six years to reach Gordon’s mark.

To put the streak Johnson and Newman have compiled into perspective, rookies William Byron and Darrell Wallace Jr. would each need to not miss a race for 16 years to match them (provided there continues to be 36 points races a year). Both Byron and Wallace will need 22 seasons to match Gordon’s mark.

Most consecutive Cup starts 

797 – Jeff Gordon

788 – Ricky Rudd

704 – Bobby Labonte

697 – Rusty Wallace

655 – Terry Labonte

648 – Dale Earnhardt

628 – Jeff Burton

621 – Mark Martin

580 – Jimmie Johnson

580 – Ryan Newman

579 – Ken Schrader

572 – Kevin Harvick

571 – Matt Kenseth

548 – Jamie McMurray

521 – Tony Stewart

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Mark Martin shares the story of when Dale Earnhardt made him mad

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Mark Martin joined the digital world Monday with the debut of his own podcast, sharing stories about his interest in rap music, his racing carer and his battles with Dale Earnhardt.

Martin won 40 career Cup races (a mark Kevin Harvick tied Sunday with his victory at ISM Raceway) in a career that began in 1981 and ended in 2013. Martin’s success led to his induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017.

During episode one of the Mark Martin Podcast, the former racer took fan questions. He talked about a variety of topics, noting what he liked about rap music, what valuable lesson crew chief Alan Gustafson taught him and how he doesn’t lament losing the 2007 Daytona 500 by a nose but how another loss ranks as the one that bothers him to this day.

One question to Martin was who made him the maddest at the track.

Dale Earnhardt’s name came up.

Here’s how Martin tells the story:

“I had some issues with Earnhardt,’’ Martin said “The stories on Earnhardt are Dale really respected me before I got to NASCAR, he knew who I was. He treated me with great respect until one day in the mid 90s he wakes up and he just thinks, ‘Boy, I’ll just mess with Mark, see how much he will take.’ He started pushing my buttons just for the fun of it.

“I would go out to practice and try to run by myself and he would come out. He would wait for me. He would come out right beside me and he would get on the outside of me. That’s when the cars were just starting to get aero loose with a car on the outside.

“He would mess with me and mess with me and mess with me. Well, I finally got tired of it at Michigan. He got on my outside and I switched it on him. I got ahead of him and then let him get on the inside of me and when we did, it sucked him around. He spun me around and he wrecked me. I had not wrecked myself or him all this time he had been messing with me and it pissed me off because it wrecked my car. Leave me alone. So I was mad. That was in practice. That wasn’t in a race.

“So, the next weekend on Friday, first thing we rolled out at New Hampshire, I go out and here he is. He does the same thing, and I put the wheel on him in practice. He comes in after practice and he looks at his p.r. guy and he said ‘I think Mark has had enough.’

“That’s all. It was just playing. I wasn’t going to cry to the media, I wasn’t going to complain, I was going to be a man. I wasn’t going to be a baby. Some of the other people, their reactions … Dale didn’t like the way they reacted, he didn’t respect it and he made their life miserable.

“I watched him do it to Geoff Bodine. God, he just irritated Geoff Bodine something terrible, just all the time and he just did it because he didn’t like the way Geoff would act when he would do it to him. He would just do it. Dale was a tough guy, he was a tough customer.’’

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Kevin Harvick has a message for haters after win: ‘I see you’

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The first three-race winning streak of Kevin Harvick‘s career was accompanied by special meaning and a sardonic message.

Harvick, whose win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was stripped of its playoff implications because of a rear window deemed illegal by NASCAR, said Sunday’s victory at ISM Raceway was on par with winning the 2014 season finale to clinch a Cup championship.

“This really felt more important than winning at Homestead, to race for a championship,” Harvick told Fox Sports in victory lane (video above) after his 40th career victory tied him with Mark Martin for 18th all time. “Just to drive it home for all those supporters out there.”

Harvick paused and pointed at the camera.

“And all you haters, I see you,” he said with a smile.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver certainly seemed to relish the rebound from a controversial week in which he pointedly questioned NASCAR’s decision last Friday. Part of his victory celebration included playfully tapping and pointing at the rear window of his No. 4 Ford after climbing from the car.

“I’ve been pissed is what I’ve been,” said Harvick, who increased his win total to nine at the 1-mile oval formerly known as Phoenix Raceway. “I’ve been mad as all get out because this team does a great job, this organization does a great job, and we’ve got fast race cars. To take that away from those guys just really pissed me off last week.

“To come to a racetrack that is so good for us is a lot of fun, and everyone was just determined this week. We just wanted to go stomp them. We didn’t stop them, but we won. That’s really all that matters. Just proud of this team. It put a fire in our belly.”

Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Tony Stewart said after the win Sunday that the team wouldn’t appeal the Las Vegas penalty.

Watch the video of Harvick’s victory lane interview above.

Rodney Childers explains what happened to Kevin Harvick’s rear window (video)


Crew chief Rodney Childers said a brace failed, causing a portion of the right rear window to bow, but that he doesn’t believe it helped Kevin Harvick win last weekend’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Speaking on “The Morning Drive” Tuesday, Childers detailed what happened:

“Basically, we had a rear window brace fail and NASCAR mandates that we run a certain T-bar in the back glass and that T-bar is actually pretty strong,’’ Childers said. “Then also over the winter they wanted the rear package to raise the bottom of the rear glass to be really stiff and stay controlled — there were some guys that were having their rear package trays falling an inch at the end the year last year.

“The bottom of the glass got strengthened up and the T-bar is stiff and the center brace that holds that T-bar is what bent and failed and the T-bar ends up being stronger than the back of roof at that point and then pulled the back of the roof down.

“To be honest, that stuff has been a struggle over many, many years. I can remember being at Michigan with Mark Martin in 2012. You’re just going so fast at those intermediate tracks and you’ve got so much air pushing down on that stuff. I remember Mark coming off the race track and we had a 2-inch gap from the bottom of the glass to the deck lid when we came in from practice and had to modify all that stuff.’’

Childers said the team has made provisions to avoid a repeat of what happened at Las Vegas.

“We’re going to learn from this,’’ Childers told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It’s not something that we wanted to happen. You definitely don’t want the back of the roof sharp. You want the back of the roof round and you want that to be a smooth transition. I think that everybody thinks that it helps. I would suggest that it probably didn’t help.

“The wind tunnels don’t blow fast enough to even to get to that speed to know whether it was good or bad. It’s something that we’ve got to address.

“We’ve already addressed on the California cars and making the roof stiffer in that area and trying to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Like I said, the car was plenty fast enough before that happened, and I think everybody in the garage knows that and it’s just something that we need to put behind us and move on.’’

Asked if he anticipated any more conversations with NASCAR about the matter, Childers said:

“I wouldn’t think so. I think the biggest thing is getting it fixed and making sure that it doesn’t happen again. I think all the guys there they understand aerodynamics and they understand what goes on. We all communicate and we try to do the right things. I think also my reputation over there is pretty good.

“Like I said, it’s not something to be proud of. We’re proud of winning races and having fast cars. Whether a brace failed or not, we were going to win the other day. That’s really the whole story.’’

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Kevin Harvick joins exclusive category with Las Vegas win


Kevin Harvick became only the fourth driver to score 100 or more victories in NASCAR’s top three national series after winning Sunday’s Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Richard Petty is the all-time leader with 200 wins (all in Cup), followed by Kyle Busch with 183 (43 in Cup, 91 in Xfinity and 49 in Camping World Trucks).

“It’s been a lot of years accumulated with a lot of great race teams and people and situations,” Harvick said of reaching that milestone. “You’ve won some that you should, you’ve won some that you shouldn’t. I think when you tag that triple‑digit number to it, it really lets you realize that you’ve been fortunate to accomplish a lot of things and do things consistently throughout the years.

“It’s been fun. I think for me the last five years have really been the part that have been the most fun for me, just because of the fact that I’ve been able to come into Stewart‑Haas Racing, and Gene (Haas) and Tony (Stewart) took a chance and said, ‘Okay, we’re going to do this a long time in advance, and Rodney (Childers) was convinced to come over here and be a part of this deal.’

“I’m just fortunate to be riding the wave, and you can call me old, you can call us old, but cars are fast and things are going well.”

The Truck series began competing in 1995. The Xfinity Series began in 1982.

Here is the top 10 in all-time wins in all three national series:

200 – Richard Petty

184 – Kyle Busch

106 – David Pearson

100 – Kevin Harvick

98 – Jeff Gordon

97 – Dale Earnhardt

97 – Darrell Waltrip

96 – Mark Martin

86 – Bobby Allison

84 – Jimmie Johnson

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