Mark Martin Goes Part Time and Almost Wins Big Time

February 19, 2007--Posted at 6:19 p.m. CST

BATESVILLE, AR--Mark Martin went part time this season in NASCAR, but nearly won big time in the Daytona 500. The 48 year-old Batesville native came within a few feet of winning the Superbowl of racing.

"Just a photo finish to me and Mark Martin should have won that race to me," said Mark Martin fan Roger Cummings.

"I was very disappointed. I think he really deserved to win a Daytona 500," said fan William Miller.

The day after the Superbowl of racing, a number of fans still went out of their way to honor Region 8's own Mark Martin.

"I had my fingers crossed hoping he would pull it off," said Miller.

Miller and his wife are traveling back to Iowa from Florida, but went out of their way to include a trip through Batesville.

While the buzz around Batesville is greater than normal after Sunday's close Daytona 500, those associated with the Mark Martin Museum said had Martin captured that elusive crown, the number of visitors and those trying to get their piece of Mark Martin memorabilia would almost be too much to handle.

"The main thing we would have really got was our souvenir shop because everybody wants to wear the Superbowl winning shirt like everyone wants to wear the Daytona winning shirt," said Mark Martin Ford general manager Mooney Star.

Despite the loss and the lack of a Daytona 500 win, the fans are still proud.

"He's just a class guy. I like the way he races. He doesn't wreck anyone and if he can't do it the right way, he won't do it at all," said Miller.

Sunday's race was the first time Martin raced in his new U.S. Army car. Employees in the gift shop said they started at 8 a.m. sending new Mark Martin gear out around the country to as far as Hawaii and Alaska.