Seemingly ageless Martin still proving himself

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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.”

Ricciardo: Red Bull has ‘decent chance’ of Abu Dhabi F1 victory

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Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull stands a “decent chance” of signing off from the 2017 Formula 1 season with a victory in next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

After a slow start to the year, Red Bull made massive gains across the course of the season by developing its RB13 to end the season as front-runners, rivaling Mercedes and Ferrari for pace.

The Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi has a number of slow-speed sections that should suit the RB13 car, with Ricciardo optimistic about his chances of not only ending his podium drought at the track, but even winning the race.

“Yas Marina has actually been one of my favorite tracks over the years,” Ricciardo said in Red Bull’s pre-race preview.

“It’s been a bit like Suzuka for me though, a track that I’ve always enjoyed and gone well on but not quite reached the podium at. I broke that trend in Suzuka this year so hopefully I can do the same in Abu Dhabi.

“When you have so much time away from the car in the off season it helps to sign off with a strong result as it makes you feel like you really deserve a break.

“I think we should have a strong car in Abu Dhabi. I said I want another win before the season is out and I think we have a decent chance of achieving that.”

Red Bull has claimed three race wins through 2017, with Ricciardo’s victory in Azerbaijan being followed up by successes for teammate Max Verstappen in Malaysia and Mexico.