Charlotte II: Mark Martin preview

DRIVE FOR FIVE: No driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup history has won more October races at Lowe's Motor Speedway than Mark Martin. If the No. 5 team can reach Victory Lane on Saturday, he would break a three-way tie with Bobby Allison and Cale...

DRIVE FOR FIVE: No driver in NASCAR Sprint Cup history has won more October races at Lowe's Motor Speedway than Mark Martin. If the No. 5 team can reach Victory Lane on Saturday, he would break a three-way tie with Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough to become the only driver with four October wins. Martin also would join teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon as the only active drivers with five victories at the intermediate oval.

POP-TARTS ON THE HOOD: For the third time this season, Pop-Tarts, Kellogg's most popular morning food product, will be on the hood of the No. 5 Chevrolet during this weekend's events at Lowe's Motor Speedway. In its most recent race, the Pop-Tarts/CARQUEST Chevrolet finished second in Martin's 1,000th Sprint Cup start at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Pop-Tarts will return to the hood for the final time this season at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in two weeks.

POINTS BATTLE: Martin, driver of the No. 5 Pop-Tarts/CARQUEST Chevrolet, currently ranks second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship standings. Martin, who was the points leader following the first three Chase for the Sprint Cup races, trails Hendrick Motorsports teammate Johnson by 12 points.

BEST AVERAGE FINISH: After finishing fourth last Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, Martin owns a 3.5 average finish in the four Chase races thus far. He is tied with Juan Pablo Montoya for the best average finish.

GUSTAFSON'S RECORD SEASON: Crew chief Alan Gustafson has recorded personal bests in wins (five), top-five finishes (12), pole positions (seven) and laps led (791) this season with the No. 5 team. With 18 top-10 finishes already under his belt, he is just three away from setting another personal record with the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team.  Gustafson guided the No. 5 team to 20 top-10 finishes in 2007.

MARTIN AT LOWE'S: Martin is a four-time winner at Lowe's Motor Speedway, taking the checkered flag in October 1992, October 1995, October 1998 and May 2002. In 49 Cup starts at the 1.5-mile racetrack, Martin has earned 17 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s. His 49 starts at a single track are a personal best for the NASCAR veteran, who has that many at Lowe's and Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. He also has completed more miles -- 23,545.5 -- at Lowe's than any other track.

OF THE CHASERS: Of any Chase driver, Martin has the most career starts (49), top-five finishes (17) and top-10s (22) at Lowe's Motor Speedway. He has led the second-most laps (1,168) at Lowe's and owns the fifth-best average finish (15.9).

LOOP STATISTICS: Of the drivers inside the Chase, Martin has the third-best average running position (12.136) in the past nine races at Lowe's Motor Speedway. He also has the third-best driver rating at 91.7 and has run inside the top 15 for 2,371 laps -- the second most for any Chase driver.

NO. 5 TEAM AT LOWE'S: Under the direction of Gustafson, the No. 5 team has earned two top-five finishes and three top-10s in 11 LMS starts. In that time, the No. 5 Chevy has paced 77 laps at the intermediate track.

HENDRICK AT LOWE'S: Hendrick Motorsports, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season, has 15 Cup wins, 13 pole positions, 45 top-five finishes and 69 top-10s in 51 races (166 starts) at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

HONORARY CREW MEMBERS: This weekend, CARQUEST and the No. 5 team will welcome honorary crew members Matt Krueger and Lyle Wuestenberg. Wuestenberg partnered with CARQUEST last November to help grant Krueger's dream. The 19-year-old Krueger, who has been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, got the chance to drive his personal 1999 Chevy Camaro around Lowe's Motor Speedway.

WINNING CHASSIS: Gustafson has chosen Chassis No. 5-523 for Saturday night's race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. This is the same chassis that Martin drove to victory at Michigan International Speedway in June and a second-place finish at Dover (Del.) International Speedway in September. Chassis 5-523 also has been raced at Las Vegas, Atlanta, Texas and Lowe's Motor Speedways this year.

ONE-TWO FINISH(ES): Out of Hendrick Motorsports' 11 Cup wins this season, seven have involved one-two finishes with its Chevrolets. Hendrick drivers have scored the first and second spots at Auto Club Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Michigan International Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway. Overall, Hendrick Motorsports has tallied 29 one-two finishes since first fielding a multi-car team in 1986.

MARK MARTIN, DRIVER, NO. 5 POP-TARTS/CARQUEST CHEVROLET (ON THE TEAM'S CONTINUED CONSISTENCY.): "Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) told me that we would have to have an average finish inside the top five to win the championship. I thought he was crazy, that no one could do that. But now, if you look at the points, there are three drivers doing that. That just shows how competitive this Chase is. It's going to be a dog fight. All I can ask of this team is to keep bringing great race cars to the track, and they have done that week in and week out. This team has a lot of heart. And it's showing right now. We are getting the best finishes we can possibly get each week. That's all we can do, and where that leaves us, we'll see."

MARTIN (ON WHEN THE TIDE WILL TURN FROM RACING TO A CHASE OUTLOOK.): "I think after Martinsville (Va.) we'll have a clearer picture of who this Chase is going to come down to. With Lowe's this weekend, we'll have three intermediate races in a row. Then we jump to the shortest track on the schedule, and that's a different kind of beast. The teams will have to have a different outlook for that race. I think the teams that can be consistently good on all of these types of tracks will shine at Martinsville. Then we'll really know going into those last four races."

MARTIN (ON RETURNING TO LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY.): "I really like this racetrack. From the first time I raced on it, it just was a natural fit. Lowe's reminds me a lot of the banked dirt tracks I would run back home, only a lot bigger of course. Plus, with it being right by Hendrick Motorsports, I'd love to win this one for Rick (Hendrick, owner) and Alan and the guys."

ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 POP-TARTS/CARQUEST CHEVROLET (ON RACING AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY.): "Lowe's is a fun track to race on but it's also very challenging. You have to be the best at everything -- qualifying, pit stops, handling, etc. -- to get a good finish there. Everyone gets really geared up for this race with it being in our hometown. We want to win with all of our friends and family watching."

GUSTAFSON (ON THE TEAM'S CHANCES OF WINNING THIS SATURDAY.): "We have a great opportunity to win at Lowe's this weekend. This team is peaking at the right time. We are hitting our stride in all areas, with the cars, the engines, the pit stops -- all have been good. I feel like winning may be the only way to gain points so that is what we're going to focus on doing."

GUSTAFSON (ON THE NO. 5 TEAM'S RECORD-SETTING SEASON.): "I'm really proud of this team and what these guys have been able to accomplish this year. All of those stats are great, and they're something that we have worked really hard to achieve. But we know there is a lot of work still left in front of us to get to where we want to be. We want to win that championship. So, no records that we've set for ourselves are enough yet."

-credit: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Hendrick Motorsports