INDIANAPOLIS — Though he will attend Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, Mark Martin will have the chance to celebrate his NASCAR Hall of Fame election with some of his closest friends in racing.
Martin, who will be inducted in the 2017 class with Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Raymond Parks and Benny Parsons, told NBC Sports that he will be leaving a few hours after the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing begins and catching a flight to North Carolina.
He will be headed to Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he will take in the Coca-Cola 600 (which he won in 2002) and the congratulations of those he raced against in the Sprint Cup Series.
Martin also is expected to be at Charlotte for a NASCAR-arranged media availability Saturday.
Martin, who was in his second year on the ballot, felt he had such little chance to be chosen for the Hall of that he left his native Arkansas earlier this week to attend the Indy 500.
“It was a bucket list sorta thing,” he said.
But then came Wednesday’s announcement that he had been elected – while he was on the road headed to Indy, no less – and Martin’s travel plans suddenly became a lot more complicated.
He attended Thursday’s Indy 500 Media Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He will fly Friday afternoon to Charlotte and returns to Indy later Saturday after his appearance at the Charlotte track. Then it’s back to Charlotte again after watching the start of Sunday’s race.
“I was speechless, still not sure what to say, other than I’m surprised,” Martin said of his selection for the NASCAR Hall. “If I’d been voting, I’d have voted another way.
“But I’m humbled and honored and not only to be in this class because of the performance of the people in this class and the people, the persons they were. … I just feel really fortunate. It’s like icing on the cake, like the race you never won but always wanted to, and more.”
To further illustrate his total surprise at being chosen for the Hall, Martin quipped, “I did not expect it, or otherwise I wouldn’t have been in the motor home driving up here yesterday.
“I hadn’t been to (the Indy 500) in my lifetime, so now it appears I’m going to be doing the ‘double.’ I’m not driving, but I’m doing the ‘double’ anyway.”
Here’s a few posts from Martin’s Twitter account about his time at IMS on Thursday as well as his selection for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.