Sunday, April 21, 2019

100 Stock Car Racing "What Ifs": Mark's Mismanagement

Nascar has a long and storied history, but it also has a past littered with “What If?” questions.  Join author Mike Mackler as he takes a look back at stock car racing’s 100 most-intriguing hypotheticals in “100 Stock Car Racing ‘What Ifs’”, the book available on Amazon in both Paperback and Kindle formats.  Here’s a preview of one of the one hundred “What If” questions asked throughout the book:

69. What if Mark Martin didn’t pull-in early at Bristol?

He looks surprised--and for good reason!
Background: Long before Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and almost everyone who races for Team Penske, Mark Martin was the original “Buschwhacker”, dipping down into the Busch (now Xfinity) Series for extra seat time and an extra payday.  Always a threat to win in his 60 Winn-Dixie Ford, he looked to be on his way to another victory in the 1994 Goody’s 250 at Bristol.

What Actually Happened: Martin seemed to have overcome a day of radio issues to win the race under caution (at this time, there was no “overtime”/green-white-checker rule).  However, instead of taking the checkered flag, a confused Martin, thinking the race way over, pulled off the track in turn four, essentially putting his own car a lap down.  David Green moved up from the runner-up position to win the race.

What Could Have Been the Turning Point: What if Tommy Houston and Tracy Leslie hadn’t pulled-up to Mark under caution to congratulate him, making him think that the race was over?

What COULD Have Happened: Even without the win, Green still would have had enough points to win the 1994 Busch Series Championship.  This is significant because that day was his ONLY win of the season—Green would have won the championship without a single race win!
Usually this car was unstoppable. Usually

And if THAT Happened…: Having a driver win a national touring series championship without a race win may have been enough to spur Nascar to overhaul its points system, which in those days rewarded consistency more than anything else.

What Else Could Have Happened: For better or worse, we would have missed Mark Martin’s humorous, conciliatory post-race interview after his goof-up.  While it was obviously a bonehead move, it took a big man to face the media (and his fellow competitors) afterwards.

Why It Had to Turn Out The Way It Did: Under the rules at the time, you had to finish the race under caution at speed, and Mark Martin simply didn’t do that.