From the Marbles

2012 season in the rear view: Mark Martin

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

Vitals: 26th in the points standings. 0 wins, 4 top 5s, 10 top 10s. 5 DNFs. (24 races)

Moment to remember: Sometimes, a driver's moment to remember on the season isn't one to remember because it's a positive one. And for Mark Martin, that's definitely the case.

Martin qualified on the pole at Michigan (one of four he scored all season) and was the class of the field. However, while leading what would have been his 55th lap of the day on the 65th lap of the race, Martin lost control of his car off of turn four and went skidding through the infield grass.

What happened next was one of the most replayed moments of the season. Martin's car barreled towards the edge of an opening from the garage to pit road and his car was impaled by the end of one of the walls at the opening just in front of the left rear tire.

It was a point of impact that could have had far more severe consequences if Martin had hit a few feet closer to the front of the car. Will it lead to new designs in the openings on pit road walls? We'll see.

Moment to forget: Martin suffered three engine failures in a span of seven races in the spring and early summer. All of those were at intermediate tracks.

The wrap: Even with those engine failures and the two accidents that put him out of races five times, his average finish was 15.2. One problem... his average start was 9.2. All too often was Martin a factor at the beginning of the race, only to fade to Bolivian at the end. He's back for a similar schedule again in 2013, and if another year with Rodney Childers and the rest of the No. 55 crew can help fix the propensity to fade in the latter stages of races, watch out victory lane.

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