Michigan: Mark Martin preview

DEFENDING RACE WINNER: Mark Martin won the June 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan in dramatic fashion. As the race wound down, he outlasted the first- and second-place cars on fuel to take the lead. Although Martin ran out of fuel in...

DEFENDING RACE WINNER: Mark Martin won the June 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan in dramatic fashion. As the race wound down, he outlasted the first- and second-place cars on fuel to take the lead. Although Martin ran out of fuel in Turn 4 on the final lap, he coasted across the finish line to take the checkered flag. The victory was his fifth at the two-mile track, which is a personal best for the veteran driver.

POLE MAN: Martin's next Sprint Cup pole will be the 50th of his career and will place him eighth on the all-time pole winner's list. Martin never has earned the pole position at Michigan International Speedway, but did start from the first spot in 1990 when qualifying was rained out.

POCONO CHASSIS: Gustafson has chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-523 for Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway. This is the same chassis Martin drove to the win last June at Michigan. The No. 5 GoDaddy.com team has used this chassis twice this season, notably finishing fourth at Auto Club Speedway in February.

MARK MARTIN, DRIVER, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET (ON HIS 2009 WIN AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY.): "First, let me say we didn't win that race just on fuel mileage. Our car was amazing that day. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and the guys gave me a really fast race car. And the fuel-mileage game, I never win that. I always come up short. So winning like that, that was a surprise and it was so much fun. Three laps into the final run, I started saving fuel. We needed the points bad last year so we couldn't risk it. I saw the (No.) 48 run out. And I knew the (No.) 16 was close, too. I just held back. When I took the white flag and still had fuel pressure, I just went for it. I saw the (No.) 16 run out on the backstretch, then we ran out, too. Between that and having a battery going dead the whole race, it was so much to overcome. Winning that race was such a surprise, and surprise wins are so much fun."

MARTIN (ON THE ATTITUDE OF THIS RACE TEAM.): "The guys on this GoDaddy.com team, they don't give up. It starts at the top with Rick (Hendrick) and Alan (Gustafson). Those guys are born leaders, and they inspire everyone that works with them. We've had some races this year that have been frustrating, and it would have been easy to throw your hands up and say, 'I don't know what to do.' But no one did that. And we fought back in a lot of those to get top-five and top-10 finishes. Our performances may not be as good as last year right now, but this team is better than it was a year ago. We work together better and the effort is even stronger than before."

ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET (ON LAST YEAR'S WIN AT MICHIGAN INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY.): "We were on the edge of making it on gas, so I remember hounding Mark (Martin) to save gas, but run the best laps he could while saving. I'm privileged to the No. 48 team's information, so I kind of knew Jimmie (Johnson) was in worse shape than we were fuel-wise. So he ran out, which wasn't a terrible surprise to us. Then it was just the No. 16 (Greg Biffle) and us. I didn't know what their situation was, but I knew they had to be close. I didn't know he ran out until we were coming off of Turn 4, because there was so much commotion. Mark was talking on the radio and our spotter was talking. I couldn't follow everything that was happening! By the time we saw Mark out of Turn 4, he ran out and just coasted across the line. It was definitely a surprise, because we didn't know Biffle ran out. That was a lot of fun."

GUSTAFSON (ON WINNING ON FUEL STRATEGY.): "We had a really fast car -- that was one thing that I think was lost in our win. We qualified really bad -- 32nd -- and we drove all the way through the field. There were a lot of green runs, not many cautions at all. So we drove all the way to the front under green. We didn't get a chance to show how good our car was. People who weren't watching us very closely think we won the race on fuel mileage. But I think we could have also won the race by pure performance of the car. The car was really, really fast. And going back there in August and racing how we did again proved that the car was really, really fast."

GUSTAFSON (ON MICHIGAN'S TENDENCY TO COME DOWN TO FUEL MILEAGE.): "From my experience, it's just because there's not a lot of cautions. I don't know that it's necessarily a configuration thing or the track is 'this big' and your fuel window is 'this many laps.' I think it's because there's not a lot of cautions. So you don't get a lot of opportunities to get gas. Then it comes down to who can stretch it, and Michigan is a place where you can really do that. You can back off and not lose a ton of spots and not get lapped. There's a lot of ways you can work fuel mileage there. I think it's the amount of green-flag laps that make it a fuel-mileage race."

GUSTAFSON (ON IF DOMINATING RACES IS BETTER THAN WINNING ON THE FINAL LAP.): "I would rather dominate the whole race, definitely. To have that unknown or to have something drastically change quickly, there's a huge level of excitement. You can't anticipate that you have that emotion, so those last-lap wins are exciting, but thrilling to me is dominating the whole thing. Either way, I would take the win."

-source: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Greg Biffle , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports