It was just a year ago at this time that Mark Martin was rebounding after a slow start to the 2009 season. Following Darlington he would leave with his second win of the season and see him start to hit his stride that carried his to a runner up finish in the standings.
So far in 2010 Martin has been unable to find that consistency that led him to one of his best seasons in his career.
Darlington is a race track that is perfect for Martin, you have to race the track and then your competitors. This is something that Martin is one of the best at in his career.
On Saturday night, the team was unable to get the handling of the car too Martin’s liking, they struggled early and often.
He hit the wall on lap 133 and was forced to pit road a few laps later for four fresh tires and adjustments.
Instead of contending for the win on Saturday night they barely stayed on the lead lap at times and finished 16th.
Heading to Dover, Martin should be running up front. He has four career wins at the track including 22 top fives and 30 top 10 finishes.
The problem is their lack of consistency during the race. During the practices and even qualifying they have had fast cars, but when it comes to making adjustments during the race they are going the wrong way.
This team is more than capable of running up front and contending for wins but they are not leading laps, in fact he has only led 42 laps this season and has only led one lap in the last five races.
They sit 10th in the points which is ahead of where they were a year ago. There are a lot of questions heading into Dover for this team.
Are they really contenders? When will he win his first race of the season? Is there a deeper issue than just bad setups and bad luck?
I think Martin could get back on track this weekend at a track where he has found so much success here in the past.
Check out Jen Preston's Lugnut Report on Juan Pablo Montoya here.