All-Star: Mark Martin race report

Martin Powers to 3rd-Place Finish in Nextel All-Star Challenge CONCORD, N.C. (May 19, 2007) - Mark Martin took over third place on Lap 66 of 80 and never looked back in Saturday night's Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway near ...

Martin Powers to 3rd-Place Finish in Nextel All-Star Challenge

CONCORD, N.C. (May 19, 2007) - Mark Martin took over third place on Lap 66 of 80 and never looked back in Saturday night's Nextel All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte.

Martin, who had the fastest car on the track for the majority of the final 14 laps of the event, was able to close in on the leaders while pulling away from the rest of the field.

"This was just a great effort by this U.S. Army Team," said Martin, who finished behind race winner Kevin Harvick and runner-up Jimmie Johnson. "We had a great car andwere able to get up there and run with the leaders. I was able to pull away from the cars behind me and with 10 laps to go you could not have told me that we couldn't win the race."

"Eventually I wore out my right-front tire trying to get around the No. 48 (Johnson)," added Martin. "I was trying everything I could do. I knew if I could get around him quickly, we'd have a shot at winning. However, I couldn't pass Jimmie low and I lost some grip trying to go high. Still, this was a great run."

Martinhad a horrible day on Friday, losing an engine in practice and spinning out during the three-lap qualifying session. But after starting the All-Star race 18th, Martin wasable to driveto 13th by the end of the first of the four 20-lap segments.

Crew chief Ryan Pemberton opted to keep Martin and the No. 01 Army Chevrolet out on the track after the first segment, while the majority of the field pitted for tires. Themove paid off with a net gain of seven positions for Martin, who finished the second segment in sixth position.

Martin restarted segment three in sixth and broke into the top five on Lap 44. Heopened the fourth and final segment in fifth position.

"It really is such a pleasure to drive this U.S. Army Chevy and to represent all of the soldiers," noted Martin. "This format with (four) 20-lap segments really isn't my specialty, but the team gave me such a good car tonight. We are really looking forward to coming back here next week for the 600 and hopefully we'll be able to give our soldierssomething big to cheer about."

Martin and the 01 team will return to Lowe's Motor Speedwayfor the May 27Coca-Cola 600 -- the longest race of the season. Martin won the event in 2002.

-credit: gr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Mark Martin