INDIANAPOLIS – So where was Mark Martin when he learned he had been selected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame? At Indianapolis Motor Speedway getting ready to take in his first Indianapolis 500, of course.
Martin had just made the nine-hour drive Wednesday in his motorcoach to IMS and was “cleaning the bugs off the windshield,” he said, when the phone call came telling the winner of 40 Cup races that he will be part of the 2017 class inducted along with Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress, Benny Parsons and Raymond Parks.
Speaking on a media teleconference from the IMS media center, Martin said he never expected to be elected in his first year on the ballot.
"I just figured I'd be lingering around there for a long time because I looked at all the people on the list,” Martin said. “There were so many people in the sport that were important to be in the hall, so I certainly didn't expect it this year."
“I felt like other people would go in before me, many others. … This year’s class, it’s humbling to me to be a part of it.”
Martin never won a championship nor a Daytona 500 in a career that spanned more than three decades. He did finish second in the standings four times before retiring following the 2013 season.
"I don't have a Daytona 500 trophy and I don't have a championship trophy,” said Martin, 57. “I said many times that when people would complain about my not having one of those, I would ask the question, 'How would my life be different If I had one?'
"And I truly believe that my life would not be very different. But my life will be different from now on because I am in that hall, because that is my crown jewel. That speaks of not one year's worth of success or not one great achievement, but a body of work and that's what I'm proud of."