Martin Gets Fourth Win Of Season
JOLIET, Ill. - Mark Martin is disproving the theory that older drivers can't win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. His win Saturday night in the Lifelock.com 400 at Chicago was his fourth victory of the 2009 season, more than any other driver.
And all four wins have come after he turned 50.
"That was fun," Martin said. "That's what life's all about right there. These guys (Martin's No. 5 Chevrolet crew) deserved to win. We could have parked the car (Friday) with an hour left in practice. I knew it was awesome."
"But the best car doesn't usually win. The double-file restarts are to mess the best car up so he doesn't win, to make it good for the fans - and it did - but luckily we pulled it off anyway."
Martin pulled away after a double-file restart with two laps left in the race. He gained two positions to 11th in the standings and will have at least 40 bonus points for the Chase, if he can hold a position in the top-12.
His four wins are the most of any one season since 1998, when he was driving for Jack Roush.
Martin took the checkered flag .415 seconds ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. Kasey Kahne ran third, followed by series points leader Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin.
Jeff Gordon did not lead a lap in the race, but rallied late after taking four tires on a pit stop on lap 248 of the 267-lap race.
"Our performance overall was so-so," Gordon said. "We definitely had a challenging night. We started off, our car was really good the first few laps, but then it got really tight. So we had to make some adjustments. Had a close call there with Carl (Edwards). We lost a bunch of positions. It was basically just fighting back from that point on."
"We got ourselves inside the top 10, which is still a great effort. Then, you know, the caution came out at the right time for (crew chief) Steve Letarte to make an excellent call to come and get four tires. The pit crew did its job getting us off basically first. At that point it was just trying to maneuver through the traffic."
Kasey Kahne battled Gordon during the closing laps but had to settle for third.
"Well it's still good," said Kahne. "We've been on a roll I would say for a while now. I'd say this is eight or nine weeks straight where we've been capable of running in the top-five or top-10, and we finished it off tonight solid. We just have to keep it up."
Tony Stewart dodged one accident and rallied back from a pit miscue and a flat tire to finish fourth.
"You always need strong nights like we had tonight," said Stewart "When you're trying to put yourself in a position to win a championship, consistency is the biggest thing. To be able to knock off top-fives like we did tonight, that's what it's going to take to win a championship. That's what makes nights like tonight so crucial, being able to battle back from some adversity."
Ryan Newman, pole-sitter Brian Vickers, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Juan Montoya completed the top-10.
Note: Martin is within one victory of Harry Gant's 1991 record of five wins in a season by a driver 50 or older. By picking Martin and Jeff Gordon to finish first and second in the LifeLock 400 at Michigan in June and seeing them finish in the same order at Chicagoland, sweepstakes winners Donna and Richard Musgrave of Newcastle, Colo., won a $1 million prize.
Top-20 Chase contenders after 19 of 26: 1. Stewart-2884, 2. J. Gordon-2709, 3. Johnson-2672, 4. Kurt Busch-2526, 5. Hamlin- 2457, 6. Edwards-2438, 7. Newman 2385, 8. Kahne-2336, 9. Montoya 2321, 10. Kyle Busch-2298, 11. Martin-2296, 12. Kenseth- 2295, 13. Biffle-2285, 14. Reutimann 2219, 15. Bowyer-2169, 16. Vickers-2149, 17. Burton-2113, 18. Ambrose-2078, 19. McMurray- 1960, 20. Logano-1956
Only the top-12 drivers will be in the Chase for the Championship, which begins with race 27.
Logano is Chicago Nationwide winner
Joey Logano picked up his third NASCAR Nationwide Series win of the season, and the fourth of his career, in Saturday's race at the Chicagoland Speedway.
Top-10 leaders after 18 of 35: 1. Kyle Busch-2931, 2. Edwards- 2739, 3. Keselowski-2597, 4. Leffler 2527, 5. Logano-2395, 6. Allgaier 2140, 7. Bliss-2129, 8. Gaughan-2080, 9. S. Wallace-2065, 10. Keller-2013
Trueax to Michael Waltrip Racing
Michael Waltrip is going to scale back his 2010 racing schedule and concentrate more on his role as team owner. Replacing him will be Martin Truex Jr.
Waltrip will keep his No. 55, and race in at least four races - maybe as many as 12. Truex will be in the No. 56.
Truex said the future of Michael Waltrip Racing was much more solid than that of Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, his current team.
"There is not a lot in question here," said Truex. "They have all their ducks in a row. They know what they're doing. They know where they're headed. That's comfortable for me. I feel like their cars on the race track are running great, and we're just really starting to see what they're capable of on the track."
Truex is 24th in points, while his teammate Juan Montoya is 11th .
"I am running with Montoya, but I'm not finishing (with him)," Truex said. "It's not necessarily that I'm not happy with the performance over there or they're not doing the things or making good cars because we've had good cars and run well. … I know what I can do. People out there know what I can do."
"People in this sport know what they're seeing. If I was running 35th every weekend or 25th every weekend they might say, 'He ain't got it no more, he's washed up.' But I don't. When my car is fast, I lead laps, and I run up front. It's as simple as that. I know what I can do when my stuff is right."
"I never seen any of it coming with Ganassi," Truex said. "The plan when I resigned was to go back to four cars, get some teammates in there that run well, and we could get in there and be competitive together."
"Chip has been great to work with, and what he has to work with really has helped us there. This year would have been a lot tougher without that. But that wasn't the way we were supposed to head. I got promised a lot of things that just disappeared. A lot of things changed, and that's just how it goes."
Weekend racing: The Sprint Cup teams are idle this weekend in preparation for next weekend's race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Nationwide Series goes to Gateway International Speedway,a 1.25-mile facilty just across the river from St. Louis, Mo. The Camping World Trucks are at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.
Sat., July 18, Camping World Trucks Built Ford Tough 225, race 12 of 25; starting time: 6:30 p.m. (EDT); TV: Speed Channel.
Sat., July 18, Nationwide Missouri Illinois Dodge Dealers 250, race 19 of 35; starting time: 9 p.m. (EDT); TV: ESPN2.
Racing trivia question: Why is Indianapolis Motor Speedway often referred to as "The Brickyard?"
Last week's question: When was the first NASCAR race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway? Answer. Aug. 6, 1994. The winner was Jeff Gordon.
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