Martin finds bright spots in Sylvania 300

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"It wasn’t the ideal race, but we’ll take the good things and continue to build on those.”

Interim Driver of Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy Finishes 23rd at New Hampshire

Mark Martin, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Mark Martin, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Mark Martin, driving in place of the injured Tony Stewart, found some bright spots in his 23rd-place finish in the Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

Track position proved to be Martin’s nemesis throughout the 300-lap contest around the 1.058-mile oval. He started 18th in the 43-car field, and with a racecar that was loose into the corners and tight in the middle, Martin had to fight to stay among the top-20.

A caution period on lap 30 allowed for crew chief Steve Addington to make the first of many tweaks to Martin’s No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet. Another caution on lap 56 allowed for another series of adjustments.

The cumulative adjustments helped, and so did Addington and Martin’s attempts to gain track position via pit strategy.

Their second pit stop on lap 56 allowed them to go further on a tank of fuel than many of their counterparts. During a green-flag run that lasted 105 laps, Martin rose to as high as second. And with a Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy operating in clean air, the handling issues that plagued the car early in the race dissipated.

But with no caution in sight, Martin was forced to pit under green. The stop was smooth, but with the rest of the leaders running at full speed on the racetrack, Martin went a lap down.

Nonetheless, the team fought on, racing their way into the lucky dog spot as the first car one lap down. When the caution flag waved on lap 202, Martin was back on the lead lap.

After a stop for four tires and fuel, Martin was in 26th for the lap 206 restart. When the caution came out again for David Gilliland’s spin in turn one, Addington called for a fuel-only pit stop on lap 247 that vaulted Martin from 22nd to 12th when the race restarted on lap 251.

But the track position came at a price. The old tires Martin had under him were no match for the newer tires on the racecars of those around him. When the green flag dropped, so did Martin. He quickly fell to 20th, and when Kasey Kahne spun to bring out the race’s final caution on lap 254, Martin hit pit road to grab four fresh Goodyears.

He restarted in 23rd, and with track position again an issue, he stayed there through the checkered flag.

“It was a frustrating day,” Martin said. “We just could never get track position. But we also had some bright spots in that the changes we made to the car were good changes, and some of our strategies would’ve worked had a caution come out at the right time. It wasn’t the ideal race, but we’ll take the good things and continue to build on those.”

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet for SHR, finished 16th after starting from the pole and leading the race’s first two laps.

Newman is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and entered the second race of the 10-race Chase eighth among the 13 Chase drivers, 28 points behind Chase leader Matt Kenseth. Newman leaves New Hampshire ninth in the standings, 47 points behind Kenseth.

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 27th. Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished three spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 24th.

Kenseth won the Sylvania 300 to score his 31st career Sprint Cup victory, his series-best seventh of the season and his first at New Hampshire.

Kyle Busch finished .533 of a second behind Kenseth in the runner-up spot, while Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brian Vickers, Jeff Burton, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were seven caution periods for 37 laps, with five drivers failing to finish.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the third race of the 10-race Chase – is the AAA 400 on Sept. 29 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 1 p.m.

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Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Race reports
Tags bass pro shops, chevrolet, loudon, mark martin, mobil 1, nascar