Veteran racer Mark Martin reached into his bag of tricks at Michigan International Speedway and was surprised to pull out a victory in the LifeLock 400. Martin, who was making his 47th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start here, was following Jimmie ...
Veteran racer Mark Martin reached into his bag of tricks at Michigan International Speedway and was surprised to pull out a victory in the LifeLock 400.
Martin, who was making his 47th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start here, was following Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle in the closing laps of the race and knew that he only had one shot at the win. He watched as Johnson and then Biffle ran out of fuel and he cruised past both of them for his third win of the season.
"My car wasn't perfect," said Martin, who won for the fifth time here but for the first time since winning with Jack Roush in 1998. "It was really good yesterday but it was good enough that we didn't want to mess it up so we made some very minor changes."
Martin started 32nd and used the first half of the race to work his way through the field. He followed Johnson and Biffle for most of the second half of the race and said that he was conserving his fuel in the closing laps hoping the leaders would run dry.
"My car was good and I thought I could run with them but I couldn't run their pace and save gas and we really needed to finish," Martin said.
The win helped Martin move into eighth place in the championship standings.
"This team deserves to be in the Chase and we were on the outside looking in," Martin said. "When Jimmie ran out I said 'we're this close, I'm going to run hard.' I thought we could make it. (We had) great gas mileage for this Chevrolet."
Johnson led 146 of 200 laps and was at the front of the field with two laps to go when he ran out of gas. Biffle inherited the lead but then ran out of fuel on the final lap to open the door for Martin's third win of the season.
"We raced hard," said Johnson, who limped to a 22nd place finish. "On the bright side of things I'm real happy with the performance we had. Unfortunately we didn't win. It's part of it. We'll take our lumps and go to the next one."
Biffle coasted to the line and finished fifth. He said that racing Johnson for the lead in the closing laps cost him too much fuel to make it to the end.
"He made me use too much throttle and burn up the gas," Biffle said. "We would have made it - we had great strategy. That's the way it is."
Jeff Gordon finished second while Denny Hamlin finished third and Carl Edwards took advantage of the leaders running out of fuel to finish fourth
"We struggled with the handling all day," Edwards said. "We had a little bit of trouble on pit road and didn't handle it well. We still came home fourth - it was a great points day."
Point's leader Tony Stewart also ran out of fuel just before the start-finish line and rolled to a seventh place finish while polesitter Brian Vickers lost the lead on the first laps and brought home a ninth-place finish.