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Mark Martin (left), Jeff Gordon (right, back on) and team owner Rick Hendrick (back right, white shirt) share a moment in Victory Lane after
Martin and Gordon finished first and second, respectively...
Martin Wins Michigan on Fumes
BROOKLYN, MICH. -- There's an old saying in NASCAR racing that goes like this, "To finish first...... first you have to finish."
Mark Martin has heard that saying many times before and never has it meant any more.
While Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle were running out of gas with just one lap remaining, Martin cruised by to pick up his third win of the season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
The 50-year-old Arkansas native, who started 32nd in the 43-car field, moved into contention in the final quarter of the race and saved fuel while Biffle and Johnson battled it out up front.
Martin, one of the most popular drivers on the circuit, and certainly the pride of the over-50 crowd, calmly hit his marks and ran his race down the stretch, patiently waiting for the frontrunners to falter.
It happened with just over a lap remaining in the 200-lap, LifeLock 400 event at the two-mile Michigan International Speedway.
First Johnson ran out in the tri-oval short of the start-finish line, then Biffle's Ford sputtered going into turn one.
The huge crowd erupted when Martin's CARQUEST/Kellogg's Chevrolet passed first Johnson, then Biffle to grab his third win of the year. He won earlier in the season at Phoenix and Darlington, much to the delight of his peers. Martin is one of the most respected members of the NASCAR industry.
Finishing second behind Martin was four-time champion Jeff Gordon. Denny Hamlin was next and Carl Edwards was fourth. Biffle wound up fifth and Juan Pablo Montoya brought home a sixth-place finish. Two-time champion Tony Stewart was seventh and Kurt Busch eighth. Brian Vickers and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top 10 finishers. Johnson wound up 22nd after dominating most of the afternoon. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., continued to struggle, finishing 14th.
It was cool and overcast when the green flag waved and Kyle Busch assumed a familiar position by streaking ahead of pole winner Vickers before they made it to the second turn. At 10 laps, Johnson had passed Busch for the lead. Vickers was third. Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Montoya were next in line.
Joe Nemechek and Tony Raines pulled into the garage before 30 laps had been completed but Johnson took his Chevrolet to a commanding lead of more than six seconds. Kyle maintained second with brother Kurt third. They were followed by Kahne, Stewart, Biffle, Montoya, Vickers, Bowyer and Matt Kenseth. Martin, Carl Edwards and Gordon were moving towards the top 10. Martin went from 32nd to 15th; Edwards from 29th to 16th and Gordon from 27th to 17th.
Once teams had made their first green flag pit stops, Johnson resumed the lead with Kahne, Kyle Busch and Biffle in tow. Kurt Busch was fifth and Stewart sixth. Johnson was obviously the car to beat at this point in the race. Earnhardt, Jr. qualified 30th fastest and had moved to 18th after 50 laps.
Within a few laps, Biffle had moved to second ahead of Kahne. The first caution period of the balmy afternoon came out on Lap 73 when debris cluttered the track. On the double-file, shootout-style restart, Johnson was still the leader as the field bunched up in side-by-side fashion to go at it again. Johnson immediately jumped ahead of Biffle and Montoya held the third position. Kahne was next followed by Kurt Busch, Kenseth, Stewart, who lost time in the pits, Kyle Busch, Earnhardt and Edwards.
At halfway (100 laps), Johnson had a three-second lead over Biffle which he held for most of the race as the laps wound down.
Stewart holds on to the points lead ith 47 points over Gordon in second. Defending champion Johnson is in third followed by Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Edwards, Biffle, Martin, Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Kenseth, and Jeff Burton.
Unofficial Race Results click here
Unofficial Driver Point Standings click here
NASCAR Newscast - Michigan Review click here
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: LifeLock 400
The Date: Sunday, June 14
The Track: Michigan International Speedway; 2-mile oval
The Time: 3 p.m. AT
The Distance: 200 laps/400 miles
TV: TNT & TSN, 1:30 p.m. AT
Radio: MRN and Sirius Satellite
2008 Polesitter: Kyle Busch
2008 Winner: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Schedule (all times local): Friday—Practice, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:10 p.m. Saturday—Practice, 11-11:45 a.m. and 12:20-1:20 p.m.
Year-To-Date Results & Point Standings click here
TV Broadcast Times*
Practice: Friday June 12 at 12:30 p.m./SPEED
Qualifying Time Trials: Friday June 12 at 4 p.m./SPEED
Final Practice: Saturday June 13 at 1 p.m./SPEED
RaceDay, Pre-Race Show: Sunday June 14 at 11:30 a.m./SPEED
FOX Pre-Race Show: Sunday June 14 at 2 p.m./TNT & TSN
Race: Sunday June 14 at 3 p.m./TNT & TSN
*Times shown are AT - one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Practice, Qualifying, Starting Lineup & More...
Photo Credit: NASCAR
Mark Martin had the fastest lap in Saturday's final practice session. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. was second fastest..
Saturday Final Practice Speed Chart click here
Brian Vickers won the Coors Light Pole Award for the LifeLock 400 with a lap of 38.073 seconds,
- This is his eighth pole in 187 starts.
- This is his third pole and seventh top-10 start in 2009.
- This is his second pole in 11 races at Michigan International Speedway.
- Kyle Busch (second) posted his 11th top-10 start of 2009 and his fifth in nine races at Michigan
- Jimmie Johnson (third) posted his 10th top-10 start at Michigan International Speedway. It is his 12th
in 15 races this season.
- Scott Speed (21st) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Drivers that failed to qualify include: Mike Skinner.
Jeff Gordon's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racecar sits on jack stands in the Michigan Int'l Speedway
garage Friday after blowing an engine in practice. The team changed engines in time for qualifying, but Gordon only managed to pull off
a disappointing 27th-place lap.
Complete Starting Lineup click here
*Does not reflect adjustments that may be made prior to the race start because of the cars that need to go
to the rear of the field due to engine and/or transmission changes or practice wrecks...
- Stewart-Haas Continues To Roll...The duo of Tony Stewart (No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet) and Ryan Newman (No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet) at Stewart-Haas Racing continues to roll on.
With 14 races in the books, Stewart and Newman, competing in their first year as teammates in Stewart’s new ownership collaboration with Gene Haas, find themselves first and fourth in the current point standings, respectively. With his win this past Sunday at Pocono Raceway, Stewart not only claimed the 34th win of his NASCAR Sprint Cup career, he became the first driver/-owner since Ricky Rudd in 1998 to win a points race. That’s a span of 375 races
And for the second consecutive week, the two-time series titlist is atop the leader board heading to this Sunday’s LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
“Last year, there certainly were a lot of sleepless nights and a lot of headaches going to bed,” Stewart said following his win on Sunday. “Once you get it all together and you get a good group like this and you’ve got a group that’s as hungry as this group is, they feed off each other. Really, all I have to do is walk in there and pat those guys on the back, because they are a lot smarter people than I am.”
Newman, Stewart’s running mate and fellow Hoosier, has put together a string of six straight top-10 finishes. He was 32nd after the season’s fourth race, but has moved up 28 spots over the past 10 races. This is Newman’s best start to the season since the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup began in 2004. After 14 races in 2008, Newman, then competing for Penske Racing, was 14th in points.
“We’ve worked hard as a team to obtain our recent finishes,” said Newman. “Whether it has been pit strategy or just fixing mechanical problems during a race, it’s really been a team effort. We’re pleased with the recent results and where we currently stand in points, but we still haven’t reached the ultimate and that’s going to Victory Lane. We’re all excited about Tony’s win at Pocono and know that we can also get there.”
Both Stewart and Newman have enjoyed a fair amount of success at Michigan. Stewart has one win — a race-shortened victory in 2000 — to go along with nine top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. Newman is a two-time winner at MIS — winning in 2003 and again in 2004. He also has posted four top fives at the two-mile oval. Stewart’s Average Running Position of 10.4 is second best on the circuit in 2009, while his Driver Rating of 101. 2 is fourth best.
- Cut-Off For The Chase Is As Tight As Ever...The battle around the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup “cut-off bubble” is as tight as it gets. A single point is the difference between competing for a championship and missing out altogether.
Mark Martin (No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet) is 13th, one point behind Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Toyota). Only one other time in the Chase era (2004-present) have the standings been this close at this point of the season. After 14 races in 2005, when the Chase was a 10-driver field, 11th-place Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) trailed 10th-place Tony Stewart by a point.
The gap between 12th and 15th place is only 62 points. Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) is 14th, 60 points behind Hamlin, while Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) is 15th and 62 points out of 12th place.
- Michigan Is Roush Country...Michigan International Speedway is considered to be the ‘home track” for veteran NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team owner Jack Roush.
Roush’s home is Livonia, Mich., located just 45 minutes from MIS and is also the site of his business interests — Roush Industries.
Roush Fenway Racing drivers have won 11 times at Michigan, tied with the Wood Brothers’ for most at the track. His teams have won three of the last five races there. Carl Edwards (No. 99 AFLAC Ford) has won twice at MIS, including the race last August. Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford) has also won two times at Michigan, as has Matt Kenseth (No. 17 CARHARTT Ford). Heading into this week’s LifeLock 400, Edwards, Biffle and Kenseth rank 6-7-8 in the series standings.
- MIS Site Of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Last Victory...It was Father’s Day weekend, June 15, 2008, at Michigan International Speedway and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet) was back in Victory Lane. Fast forward a year later and the sport’s most popular driver hasn’t tasted victory since and has experienced more than his share of ups and downs on the race track over the past 12 months.
While that win was the 18th of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career and first while driving for Hendrick Motorsports, that victory didn’t generate the type of momentum that the No. 88 team had hoped it would. Earnhardt did make the Chase in 2008 — finishing 12th — but currently finds himself 20th in points and 245 points out of the cut-off 12th position. His team experienced a crew chief change a couple of weeks ago, with Lance McGrew taking over the duties from Tony Eury Jr. Since that switch, Earnhardt has finished 12th at Dover and 27th at Pocono. While Earnhardt is the defending race winner, his performance at Michigan over the years has been so-so at best. In 19 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at MIS, Earnhardt has the
- Always A Threat: Penske Racing Usually Contends For MIS Wins...Roger Penske is another team owner that has historically enjoyed successful afternoons at Michigan International Speedway. Penske owned the race track from 1973 until 1999.
During his ownership, the track experienced significant growth, as the grandstands expanded from 25,000 to more than 125,000 seats, and numerous buildings were added to the property, including three garages, 28 pit terrace suites, an administration building, two ticket offices, a maintenance building, a warehouse, souvenir shops, a Competition Tire Building and a Motorsports International Building.
Penske drivers have won six times at MIS, tied with Robert Yates for fourth best all-time among owners. Former Penske driver Rusty Wallace won three times at Michigan, while Ryan Newman, who drove for Penske from 2000-08 is a two-time winner there. Current Penske driver Kurt Busch won at MIS in 2007.
- Reutimann Won’t Go Away...Just when you thought you’d seen the last of David Reutimann (No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota) contending for a berth in the Chase, the likable Florida native is back in the picture, giving all indications he’s here to stay.
Reutimann, who won his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race a couple weeks back at the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600, posted another strong third-place finish at Pocono to move back into the top 12; he’s currently 11th in points.
Reutimann was a fixture in the top 12 for seven weeks earlier this season (races 2-9) before dropping outside the Chase cut-off following a 28th-place showing at Richmond. Reutimann said that his team is just now realizing its potential.
“At the end of last year, I was like, man, if we can just do this and do a couple things better, I think we might be able to be in contention for the Chase,” said Reutimann.
“It’s worked out so far. We’ve definitely had some races that we would like to forget, but for the most part it’s been a pretty good year. You look at the results we’ve had in previous years compared to this year; there’s just no comparison.”
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