CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Clint Bowyer will tap into Mark Martin’s prowess at Darlington Raceway this September, when he pilots a Carolina Ford Dealers throwback scheme honoring the NASCAR Hall of Famer in the 68th annual Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Sept. 3.
Martin won 40 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, finished second in the championship standings five times and notched five IROC titles during the course of his 31-year career. He also scored 49 race wins and 30 poles in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
“If you want to associate yourself with a winner and all that’s good about our sport and its history, then you aren’t going to do any better than Mark Martin,” said Bowyer, who raced as a teammate with Martin in 2012 and 2013 while at Michael Waltrip Racing.
From 1988 to 1991, Martin drove a Carolina Ford Dealers Ford Thunderbird for Bill Davis Racing in 43 XFINITY Series races, claiming three XFINITY Series victories and 11 top-five finishes in the predominantly blue, white and red machine.
His best Darlington result in the car was second in the 1989 Country Squire 200, where he finished .37 of a second behind race-winner Geoff Bodine, but that runner-up effort was a prelude of what was to come. Martin eventually earned eight XFINITY Series wins at Darlington, in addition to two Southern 500 victories in 1993 and 2009.
“I’m proud to say I got to race with and against Mark in my career, and it’s an honor to have him join us at Darlington in September,” Bowyer added. “When the folks at SHR and Carolina Ford Dealers came up with this idea, I was pretty pumped up for it. Then I saw the paint scheme and I knew it was going to be one of the best in Darlington.”
Martin won in the Carolina Ford Dealers paint scheme at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway on March 5, 1988; Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Aug. 25, 1989 and Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway on June 30, 1990.
Now, 27 years later, Martin hopes that a Carolina Ford Dealers car can win again in the Palmetto State.
“Carolina Ford Dealers won in the state of South Carolina almost 30 years ago, so I think they’re probably due for another win in South Carolina this September with Clint,” laughed Martin, whose last Cup race came at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 17, 2013 in SHR’s No. 14, subbing for an injured Tony Stewart.
“Seriously, this is a really cool deal and brings back a lot of memories. This was a good time and I hope the race fans enjoy it as much as I will seeing it out on the track. Darlington is one of my favorite places on earth and I’m not going to miss this one.”
Bowyer said he might put Martin to work at Darlington, as he chases a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff berth.
“Mark has as much experience as anyone there. I won’t hesitate to lean on that wisdom. As this playoff battle heats up, I’ll be glad to take any advice from Mark,” he admitted. “I’ve leaned on him before and I’ll do it again.”
CREDIT: Stewart Haas Racing