Mark Martin declares dirt as the best racing in motorsports; Discusses his role with the team of Jonathan Davenport
Last year, Lance Landers announced that he would field a car for Jonathan Davenport in 2018. The new team from Batesville, Arkansas is currently on tour with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.
The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series has already run 10 races to begin their 2018 season. Of those, Jonathan Davenport has collected 3 wins and is currently the LOLMDS point leader.
Behind the scenes, Mark Martin is there. But to what degree?
Martin attended a few Lucas Dirt races in 2017. This year, he’s been seen far more regularly. The NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee hangs out at the hauler for Lance Landers Motorsports. The new dirt late model team is based in Martin’s home town, thus Martin has formed an attachment to the organization.
How many Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series races did you go to last year?
“I didn’t go to many because Lance didn’t run a car,” Mark Martin told RacingNews.co from the LOLMDS pit lane. “I went to the BadBoy 98 and the Topless at Batesville.”
“But, I didn’t go to too many of the late model dirt shows. I’ll go to a few more this year because Lance has got Davenport running now.”
What’s your involvement with this team? I look at the car, it looks similar to your old Cup car from a color standpoint and even a little bit of a graphics standpoint. It even has the Valvoline sponsor.
“I am lead cheerleader for Jonathan Davenport. That’s my official label.”
Now, I’ve heard you say that. But, I’m not sure that I buy it.
“Lance and I are really close. We’re in partnership on business, dealerships and stuff in Arkansas. We’re not partners in the racing program, this is his program. But, I still feel like I’ve got a vested interest in it.”
Mark Martin owns five car dealerships in or near Batesville, Arkansas. Additionally, he’s also involved in the ATV side via Mark Martin Powersports. All of their brands have been featured on various dirt cars over the years.
“He does so much for our automotive group. So, if there’s anything I could do to help or just cheer.”
Right now, this is the best racing in motorsports
“Right now, this is the best racing in motorsports, in my opinion. It’s just really spectacular. The cars look awesome. They way they preform, they’re real racy and there’s a lot of movement in the field. A lot of passing, a lot of good racing.”
I think it’s less to do with the cars and more to do with the track itself. The surface is always changing.
“That’s right. The race track’s always changing and there’s so many adjustments you can make on the race cars. You know, some of the other forms of racing have closed down to the point where you can’t work on very many areas anymore. So, the performance is relatively close between all the cars.”
“With one of these cars, you can get hooked up and run away.”
Mark Martin takes a short break in the conversation to greet an excited fan that has approached us. “Can I shake your hand? You’re awesome. I’ve watched you for years on TV,” the fan says as Martin reaches out to shake her hand.
Mark Martin ran 882 races in the NASCAR Cup Series. Among those, he picked up 40 wins. But, NASCAR has shifted dramatically from a rules standpoint since Martin’s era between 1981-2013. The shift for the level playing field was just beginning toward the end of his career. But, recently NASCAR officials have taken it to an entirely new level.
So, you’re not a fan of the level playing field I would assume?
“If you put 20 of the greatest race car drivers in the world, in 20 cars that are identical you’re going to have a boring race.”
“Who’s gunna pass who? They’re good drivers, in good cars. Ain’t nobody going to pass nobody.”
I’ve always thought the level playing field was the way to go. But, the more I talk to drivers — I’m changing my opinion on it, a little bit.
“Back in the day, you’d have a guy like Dale Earnhardt leading the race. He’d have a flat tire, come into the pits, restart in the back and be leading again in two laps. People would go nuts!”
“Hud [Hudson O’Neal] came from 15th or 20th at Golden Isles, to the front. That’s racin’. That’s what it’s all about.”
“The strive for parody — It wasn’t good for the show.”
Speaking of movement in the field, the very next night, Josh Richards drove from the back to the front. He started at the tail, in a backup car and won the main event at Golden Isles Speedway.
The Lucas Oil Late Mode Dirt Series is in the middle of a brief break before the season resumes in full force. The next stop for Jonathan Davenport is Atomic Speedway on March 16th.
As far as the pit area goes, you might find Mark Martin under the car. At Golden Isles Speedway, Billy Moyer was chasing mechanical issues. Mark Martin climbed under the deck to see what was wrong. That moment is pictured in the classic photo below.
Trying to figure out why the damn LR was locking up and while trying to figure it out @markmartin dove under there to help… too bad we wasted all night 1 & missed the show by 1 but always appreciate help from a hall of famer! We will be better 2moro ? pic.twitter.com/D7Uf1G4v8i
— Billy Moyer Jr. (@21BMJ) February 3, 2018
Related: Jonathan Davenport’s new rig