His bubble is very thin

Mark Martin is toast.

You know it. I know it. He knows it. The kid driving the go-kart down the street knows it.


Martin is currently the 15th man in a 12-man race to qualify for NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup entering Saturday's final run at Richmond.

"I haven't done the math," he said Tuesday, "but I don't think (the odds are) very good."


You are correct, sir. Martin is 147 points away from qualifying. Anyone within 161 points of 12th place is still eligible to make the Chase, but it virtually would take a bunch of cars wrecking in the first few laps Saturday night for Martin to roll into NASCAR's 10-race playoff.

Greg Biffle is in 11th place but looks solid. He has a 161-point lead over 13th-place Ryan Newman. All Biffle has to do is finish 42nd or better to clinch. Clint Bowyer, currently 12th, has a 117-point lead over Newman. All he has to do is finish 28th or better to clinch.

Jamie McMurray (128 points out) and Martin are extreme bubble boys.

We measure greatness in different ways, not just by points and championships.

Few people would have the nerve to rip Martin for becoming a career underachiever even though he has finished second in the points chase five times since his first career start, April 15, 1981, in North Wilkesboro.

One of those times was last year, when he came out of "semi-retirement" to run a full schedule.

"It would have destroyed the season for us to miss the Chase last year, because we knew if we could get in it, we could win it," he said.

This year, not as much.


Martin's No 5. Chevrolet has yet to win in 25 starts this season and has an average finish of 19.6 in the last five races. He does the math and knows he would belong by the flimsiest of margins.

There is no looking back. There was a time back in his young and wilder days Martin would have been furious at the circumstances. But now, at 51, he can take an introspective look at his career and missed opportunities at championships.

"It wouldn't have changed my life," Martin said. "I don't think I'd be a different person. I don't think I'd have a different ride. I don't think I'd have more sponsors or anything else.

"When I look back on it, I've been very, very fortunate to have been incredibly successful at doing what I have passion for and love. And I'm no champion. I'm just lucky I got to win a pile of races."

Martin has 40 of those in his career.

It's a nice pile to have on your resume.