MIAMI - In a racing career that has spanned nearly three decades, Mark Martin has picked up more than a few monikers.
'Mr. Clean' for his aversion to dirty driving.
'Old Man' for his 50-something status in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
And 'Mr. Consistency' for his uncanny ability to always put himself in position to compete.
You can call Martin most anything, but there is one label that will make him chafe: 'The greatest driver never to win a championship.'
But if today's Ford 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway goes as expected - with Jimmie Johnson collecting an unprecedented fourth consecutive Cup title and Martin finishing second in points, again - it is the description that will stick with him.
Martin trails Johnson by 108 points heading into the season-ending race, and short of an early wreck by the front-runner, likely will finish second in the points race for the fifth time in his career.
Although his career statistics - 40 Cup race victories, 48 poles and 417 top 10s - are the stuff of greatness, the eternal bridesmaid does not believe that alone should earn him mention among racing's legends.
"My record does not stand up against the greats in this business," Martin, 50, said. "I'm the worker. I work real hard and try to win the game, whatever it is, fair and square."
Statistically speaking, Martin probably is right.
He likely would need to race another 20 years before cracking into the top five of the sport's victories list, and all of the other drivers considered elite have won at least one season championship.
Just don't make that argument to Johnson, who with a record fourth title would cement his place among the best drivers in NASCAR history.
"He's too humble of a man. He doesn't understand what he's done for the sport," Johnson said.
"You are one of the greatest," Johnson told his Hendrick Motorsports teammate. "We all think the world of you and respect the hell out of you."
That Martin is in position to finish second again is a testament to his strength as a driver and the depth of Hendrick Motorsports.
With Johnson and Martin the only two drivers left with a shot at the Sprint Cup title, owner Rick Hendrick is assured a record-breaking 12th series championship.
Hendrick coaxed Martin - who had been in semiretirement in his late-40s, competing only on a part-time basis in the Sprint Cup Series - to race for an entire season in 2009.
The result: five victories, a spot in the Chase for the Cup and an extension to stay with Hendrick through 2011. Now, retirement does not cross his mind.
"I have exceeded my expectations," Martin said. "Entering the season, I just didn't know if I could compete against the Jimmie Johnsons and Jeff Gordons and Dale Earnhardt Jrs.
"I didn't know for a fact that I could measure up to those guys, in their prime. But I knew that I was going to give it my whole heart."
And along the way, he proved again to peers and critics alike that he is one of the sport's greatest drivers, regardless of era.
"I don't know how he hasn't won a championship," Hendrick said. "He has finished second to some of the all-time greats when they were in their prime.
"He has to be considered one of the all-time greats."