South Boston 200 Couldn't Be Better Timed for Peyton Sellers
Jun 30, 2022
When Daniel Dye takes the green flag in the Montana 200 on July 16, his crew chief will feel an adrenaline surge he hasn’t felt in quite some time. Mark Martin is going to want to his car to wax the field.
Yes, that Mark Martin.
The NASCAR Hall of Famer has agreed to call the shots for the ARCA and Super Late Model youngster as he takes on the best of the northwest at the Mission Valley Super Oval in a car prepared by defending ARCA West Champion crew chief Travis Sharpe.
Dye first connected with Sharpe on June 4 when he entered the West race at Portland International Raceway. It was an enjoyable experience, and both wanted to work together again. Simultaneously, Martin has become close friends with Sharpe over the past half-decade.
Martin attended the Montana 200 in 2021, loved the trip so much that he vowed to do it again, but never could have predicted serving as crew chief under any scenario.
"Travis is always nagging me, nagging Matt (Martin, Mark's son) to test their cars and just turn laps and we say no," Martin said. "He asks again, and I say no. I went to that race last year and just wanted to help the promoter. I'm not going to drive but I want to be able to do something cool.
"So, Travis comes up with the idea, texts me, 'hey man, you want to crew chief for Daniel at the 200? I’m like, I don’t know how much help I can be, but I love Late Models, and I was going to go anyway because I love that race so let’s do it."
To his point, Martin has never lost his love for short track racing even as he became a NASCAR Cup Series regular. He is a four-time ASA National Tour champion and accomplished the feat at a time when it was the most competitive short track series in discipline history.
Martin regularly keeps up with news and stories from that world and can’t wait to jump in the shop with Sharpe to prepare for the event.
"It's going to be a lot of fun," Martin said. "It's been fun to dig into these cars and see what they're doing with them. I went to (the Dixieland 250 in 2017) and got to learn a little bit, and I've got to tell you, it's really interesting stuff.
"Listen, I'm not going to be a guru, but I hope I can be a coach. Travis knows how to make these cars fast, but I can only hope to be a fine-tuner for Daniel."
Martin has known Randy Dye, Daniel’s father, for well over a decade. The elder Dye is a NASCAR Foundation board member and a prominent Daytona area businessman and philanthropist. The younger Dye hasn’t met Martin yet but has a tremendous amount of admiration for the legendary racer.
"To me, whatever this race costs, it would be worth paying it twice just to work with Mark and get to pick his brain about racing," Dye said. "It’s a three or four day race week too, and I get to spend that week with Mark and Travis. You’ll see Mark tweet about set-ups from back in the day and I’m looking forward to just learning more about the technical side of these cars.
"Really, you make a pro and con list about every potential deal as a racer, right, and there isn’t a single con about this deal."
It meant a lot for Martin to hear that from Dye.
"It’s incredibly humbling," Martin said. "It makes me respect and like him just from hearing him say that. It’s not about what he’s going to learn from me because I don’t think I can make him a better racer, but I think him believing that will give him more confidence.
"And really, so much about what we do is about feel and confidence. You still need performance and talent but that confidence, wherever you can pick it up from, is a huge deal."
Even though Martin has to tell his fans nearly every week on Twitter or meet-and-greets that he’s done driving a race car, that doesn’t mean the 63-year-old isn’t competitive. In fact, he isn’t racing anymore because he is so competitive.
"I’ve only driven a race car once since that last race at Homestead and I wish I hadn’t," Martin said. "I don’t want to drive a race car and I don’t belong in a race car. I’m as competitive as ever and I don’t want to be in a race car unless I can be the best person to be in it."
But serving as a crew chief alongside Sharpe and with Dye at the Montana 200 will allow Martin an avenue to feel competitive and part of a team atmosphere again. It’s something he is looking forward to already.
"Nothing will please me more than having our car go out there and see Daniel beat some of Travis’ other cars," Martin said. "And really, it’s kind of the perfect deal for me because I can feel competitive without feeling the pressure you get when you’re driving. That part is going to be on Daniel."
But again, make no mistake, like any time Martin led a team to the green flag, he wants to dominate.
"In the end, I want to win," Martin said. "I want to win because it’s what I do. This is going to be a lot of fun."