Jeff Burton believes Mark Martin's age will not be a disadvantage that may prevent the NASCAR veteran from fighting for the championship this season.
The 41-year-old, who used to be teammates with Martin at Roush Fenway Racing, says Martin, who won his first race for the last three-and-a-half years at Phoenix last Saturday, is probably in better shape now than ten years ago. He reckons that he doesn't see why at 50 Martin would be at any kind of disadvantage in the title race over other top drivers in their 20s or 30s.
"There is no reason that I can see that Mark is disadvantaged because of the age he is," said Burton. "I know there are people that would disagree with that. What matters if you are physically able, and he obviously is, and remember, he is probably more physically able than he has ever been.
"You guys don't know the agony he went through with his back for all those years. He's probably more fit and able to do this than he was ten years ago, especially with his back problems.
"I think too that his perspective on things has helped him. I think that taking a step back and thinking that he didn't want to do it as badly as he really wanted to do it has really revitalized him and made him appreciate the opportunity he has. I don't see any reason that he couldn't win and win a lot."
Martin has yet to win the Sprint Cup series title, having finished second in the standings four times. After becoming the third-most veteran driver ever to win a race, Martin could become the oldest driver to win the championship.
Bobby Allison currently holds that record after claiming the 1983 Cup title at the age of 45. Ted Musgrave is the oldest NASCAR champion in history, winning the 2005 Truck series title at 49.