Mark Martin, driving in place of the injured Tony Stewart, turned in another solid effort by finishing 17th in the rain-delayed Geico 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. It was Martin’s third top-20 finish in the last four races since he began substituting for Stewart in the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).
“I felt like we had a better racecar than that, but I feel like we had a great effort. Made a couple of mistakes on the racetrack, but we recovered from them,” said Martin, alluding to a lap-173 restart during which he dropped from 11th to 16th when he quickly came upon the much slower car of Jeff Gordon, who had a flat tire.
“We had a pretty good Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet. That last run, the car got tight. I think I could’ve passed a couple more cars there if it hadn’t tightened up on me, but for some reason after that last stop, it tightened up. I feel good about the speed we have. We know where we need to work now. We’ve been together long enough to know what we need. We’re building a foundation, and we’ll keep learning. It was a good effort.”
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet for SHR, finished 10th to score his 13th top-10 result of 2013 and his eighth top-10 in 12 career Sprint Cup starts at Chicagoland.
Newman is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and entered the first race of the 10-race Chase seeded 12th among the 13 Chase drivers, 15 points behind No. 1 seed Matt Kenseth. Newman leaves Chicagoland in eighth, 28 points behind Kenseth, who extended his point lead by winning the Geico 400.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 20th. It was Patrick’s 37th career Sprint Cup start and her second at Chicagoland. Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 12 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed eighth, scoring his second straight top-10 finish.
Kenseth’s victory in the Geico 400 was his 30th career Sprint Cup win, his series-leading sixth of the season and his first at Chicagoland.
Kyle Busch finished .749 of a second behind his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate in the runner-up spot, while Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five. Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Stenhouse, Clint Bowyer and Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 46 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the second race of the 10-race Chase – is the Sylvania 300 on Sept. 22 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 1 p.m.