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Seemingly ageless Martin still proving himself

Mar 2, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

Mark Martin 2 Getty Images

At 54 years old, Mark Martin continues to persevere – and excel – in the Sprint Cup Series.

Martin isn’t a full-time racer this season on NASCAR’s top circuit, but thanks to a combination of his well-known commitment to fitness and the solid talent behind him at Michael Waltrip Racing, he’s staying quite competitive in this, his 31st season of Cup racing.

“I will say that I don’t know that my training – in my prime, I don’t know that my personal training made me a better race car driver,” Martin said after his Friday pole run for tomorrow’s Subway Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. “But there’s no doubt in my mind that the longevity of my career is hugely dependent on that commitment.”

With 40 Cup victories on his resume, Martin’s hard work has paid off for him time and again. But he says he still has his occasional misgivings, which makes him grateful to have MWR in his corner.

“If I would’ve qualified 30th today, my lip would be out and I’d have the long face and whatnot,” said Martin of his No. 55 team. “[Winning the pole] is nice. I still revert back to – I have people that believe in me more than I do myself. They don’t doubt.

“…I truly believe that the reason I’m able to defy these odds right now are two huge reasons; [training] is one of them, and the other one is the people that work on my race car. It don’t matter how good you are – if you’ve got a slow car, you don’t look good and you don’t go fast. I have to have people that believe in me, and these guys believe in me.”

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