Mark Martin, driving in place of the injured Tony Stewart, persevered through a crash-marred Hollywood Casino 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City to finish 22nd.
In a tenacious drive, Martin worked the wheel of his racecar to position himself as the first driver one lap down. Known as the “lucky dog”, the first driver a lap down gets his lap back when the yellow caution flag is displayed. When the caution came out for debris on lap 229, Martin earned his way back onto the lead lap.
For the lap-233 restart, Martin was 23rd, and in the final 30 laps, he stayed clear of other calamities, most notably Brian Vickers’ spinning racecar on lap 244 after a hard impact with the turn two wall. Martin’s experience and patience allowed him to climb to 22nd by the time the checkered flag fell.
“We actually had a pretty good racecar, but we never really had a chance to show it,” Martin said. “Grip was really tough to come by out there, and we saw a lot of people struggle with that. Our Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy had pretty good balance, even after we got it all fixed after the wreck.
“This is a hard-working group of guys here at Stewart-Haas Racing. Today and, really, this whole weekend showed that. We improved the car significantly from our test on Thursday to the end of the race. It’s just a shame we don’t have as much to show for those efforts.”
It was a tough outing altogether for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at Kansas, as Martin was the team’s highest finishing driver.
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Code 3 Associates Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 35th after being collected in a lap-137 accident with rookie Justin Allgaier. And Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 43rd after crashing on the first lap in turn two.
Newman is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and entered the fourth race of the 10-race Chase seventh among the 13 Chase drivers, 48 points behind Chase leader Matt Kenseth. Newman leaves Kansas in 12th, 73 points behind Kenseth. Kenseth holds a three-point lead over his nearest pursuer, five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson.
Kevin Harvick won the Hollywood Casino 400 from the pole to score his 22nd career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Kansas.
Kurt Busch finished 1.140 seconds behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Johnson, Paul Menard, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola comprised the remainder of the top-10. Kenseth finished 11th. Nine drivers failed to finish the 267-lap race.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the sixth race of the 10-race Chase – is the Bank of America 500 Oct. 12 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The race begins at 7:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with a pre-race show at 7 p.m.