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Mark Martin Revels Around Rousch

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CONCORD — Ford teams have begun the second round of testing at Daytona. One guy looking some extra speed is perennial front runner Mark Martin.

The six car was one of racing's best in '97. Mark Martin piloted his Ford to four wins and a third place finish in the points race. But Rousch Racing's expansion from three teams to five, and Ford's decision to replace the Thunderbird with the Taurus, have essentially turned Martin's operation upside down.

"Is it new? Yes. New guys. New car. We might not be as ready as we were a year ago," Martin explains.

Martin's number six will have a new paint job in '98. The original driver at Rousch Racing will tell you, he's not negative about the expansion to five teams and its impact on his top notch race team.

Ford was going to change the car anyway he says. Why not change everything at once? Martin likes the fact that, while not all Rousch's teams will be housed in one place, he and Jeff Burton will be under one roof.

"In my opinion, Jeff Burton is the best driver in stock car racing today," Martin admits. "Being paired with him will be good for me."

Martin sees a struggle in the short term, but likes Rousch Racing's chances at ultimate success.