published Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Young: Martin enjoying ‘second childhood’

Boy, is Mark Martin having fun or what?

After winning for the second time in a month, the 50-year-old is proving he can still get it done. Three early DNFs put him well out of the top 12, but he’s now 11th and climbing fast. There were questions about his motivation when he decided to accept Rick Hendrick’s offer to run full time. No one’s questioning now.

“I’m having a blast,” Martin said in the postrace news conference. “I’m just very, very happy right now, and I don’t need to say, you know, we’re going to win a whole bunch more races this year. We’re going to race just like we raced this race and all the other ones, and the ones we cross the line first, we’ll take the trophy.”

The great thing about Martin is that he’s not afraid to admit he doesn’t know it all. In fact, he’s given credit to crew chief Alan Gufstason repeatedly this year. He also admits driving part-time the past two seasons had its benefits for this year.

“I learned things all through my career,” he said. “I never stopped learning. And I learned some really great lessons in 2007 and 2008. You know, like I said, yes, I’m a different person. Yeah, I’m still growing up, I’m still maturing. As you guys know, I’m in my second childhood right now.”

But can he win his first Sprint Cup title? That’s a question Martin isn’t ready to tackle yet.

“It could happen. But if not, at least we got two (wins) instead of one,” he said. “That’s the way I look at it. Don’t take those kind of answers from me as pessimistic or a lack of confidence. All I want to do is be happy and have fun doing this.”

So far, those are goals he’s more than reached.

about Lindsey Young...

Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...

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