With a broken wrist, leg and rib, and a sore back, Mark Martin hobbles around the garage area--his gait not unlike that of the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Then he is lifted into his car, something he hopes to drive 317.4 miles today in the Jiffy Lube 300. And every turn, every tiny bump on the 1.058-mile New Hampshire International Speedway offers the potential for pain.
So, what is this man doing in a race car?
"Well, I'd rather be doing this than lying on a bed," Martin said.
Martin narrowly escaped doing just that after crashing nine days ago while practicing for the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
"We're doing okay," he said, but the grimace on his face said otherwise. "We're not as fast as we need to be, and I'm not as much of a hero as I'd like to be."
But Martin has no intention of getting out of the car despite the pain and the standby status of his protege, Busch Series ace Matt Kenseth.
"We're going to race as hard as we can race," he said, explaining that any problems will not be attributable to his health. "It won't be from not being able to drive the car."
Asked about his bad back, Martin almost perked up.
"My back is perfect. It's fixed," he said. "Everything else hurts so much I don't even know it's messed up."
Beginning From Behind
Martin and the four other Roush Racing drivers have a long way to go to reach the front. Of the five, only Johnny Benson, who stood on the 26th-best time posted Friday in first-round qualifying, got into the field on the basis of speed.
Martin, two-time defending race champion Jeff Burton, Chad Little and Kevin Lepage got four of seven provisional positions. It was the first time since Roush went to five cars that the entire contingent started outside the top 25.
Martin will start 37th, Burton 38th, Little 41st and Lepage 42nd.
Former Winston Cup champion Bill Elliott also got in on a provisional after scraping the wall in his second-round qualifying effort. Elliott is listed 40th on the grid, but will fall to the rear of the field before the start because he went to a backup car.
Failing to make the field and headed home were Derrike Cope, David Green, Dave Marcis and Robert Pressley.
Rusty Wallace will become a $20 million man today, regardless of his finish in the Jiffy Lube 300. Even a last-place posting would allow him to reach that career milestone. Wallace, who starts second, has earned $19,978,763. Wallace won the first New Hampshire race after starting 33rd on the grid in 1993.
WINSTON CUPBUSCH GRAND NATIONAL
Upcoming event: Jiffy Lube 300, Loudon, N.H., Today
Rank Driver Points
1. Dale Jarrett 2,674
2. Bobby Labonte 2,497
3. Mark Martin 2,440
4. Jeff Burton 2,419
5. Jeff Gordon 2,280
6. Tony Stewart 2,261
7. Dale Earnhardt 2,182
8. Rusty Wallace 2,053
9. Ward Burton 2,023
10. Jeremy Mayfield 2,018
Rank Driver Earnings
1. Jeff Gordon $3,769,401
2. Jeff Burton 2,801,761
3. Dale Jarrett 1,764,844
4. Bobby Labonte 1,753,336
5. Dale Earnhardt 1,642,784
6. Terry Labonte 1,425,941
7. Mark Martin 1,422,271
8. Mike Skinner 1,292,951
9. Kenny Irwin 1,201,021
10. Rusty Wallace 1,185,214
-- through July 3
Upcoming event: Myrtle Beach 250, Myrtle Beach Speedway, July 17.
Rank Driver Points
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2,609
2. Matt Kenseth 2,470
3. Jeff Green 2,324
4. Todd Bodine 2,193
5. Elton Sawyer 2,151
6. Jason Keller 2,060
7. Jeff Purvis 2,018
8. Mike McLaughlin 1,976
9. Dave Blaney 1,932
10. Casey Atwood 1,865
-- through July 4