AVONDALE, AZ - Mark Martin started on the pole and powered his No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS to victory lane in the Subway Fresh Fit 500. The win was Martin's 36th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and his second at Phoenix International...
AVONDALE, AZ - Mark Martin started on the pole and powered his No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Impala SS to victory lane in the Subway Fresh Fit 500. The win was Martin's 36th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and his second at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR).
Martin ended a 97-race winless streak to capture his first victory as a driver for Hendrick Motorsports (HMS). The win was the fifth consecutive victory for HMS at PIR. He led five times for a total of 197 laps.
The win jumped Martin to 13th in the NSCS standings, just nine (9) points out of 12th place with one win, one top-five and four top-10 finishes.
It was the third win in a row this season for Team Chevy and keeps Chevrolet on top of the NSCS Manufacturers' Cup standings with eight races in the 2009 record books.
Tony Stewart, No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Impala SS, finished second to score his third top-five and sixth top-10 of the season. He now sits fourth in the point standings in pursuit of his third NSCS championship.
Three time and defending NSCS Jimmie Johnson brought his No. 48 Lowe's Impala SS to the checkered flag in fourth to retain the second spot in the standings. Johnson has one win, four top-five and six top-10 finishes to date.
Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Impala SS, scored his best finish of the season coming to the line in seventh place.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Impala SS, remains the points leader but finished a disappointing 25th in the race after a pit road penalty put the four-time NSCS champion a lap down to the leaders.
Handling issues related Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Impala SS to the 26th finishing position. He now sits sixth in the points.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Impala SS, moved to 11th in the standings with his 15th place finish.
The next event on the 2009 NSCS schedule will be April 26, 2009 at Talladega Superspeedway.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT IMPALA SS -- Finished 25th
TALK ABOUT YOUR RACE AND THAT UNFORTUNATE PENALTY "Oh, there were a lot of things that were unfortunate tonight. It just wasn't our night. We struggled. I haven't been feeling good this weekend. My back is hurting. When you're feeling like that, you can't really give good information and feedback to the team. We had some issues in the pits and it was just all around a tough night.
"But I'm really excited about Mark Martin winning tonight. I think that's so cool. We're so excited about having him at Hendrick Motorsports. I know how bad he wanted to win. He's got a car and a team that can do it and he's one driving fool."
DID IT COME TO A HEAD FOR YOU ON THE LUGNUT ISSUE IN THE PITS? "Yeah, pretty much. We couldn't afford to have any mistakes anymore, really. Steve (Letarte made a great call to keep us out there, but I don't know. I was just struggling with the car. We had some damage. Me and Denny (Hamlin, No. 11) got together. It was just one of those nights. The No. 55 and the No. 7 spun out in front of me. The No. 34, I was trying to pass him and he didn't know it. It was just one of those crazy nights."
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS FOR MARK MARTIN TO WIN TONIGHT? "Oh, you know Mark is such a talented driver. I was so excited to hear that there was an opportunity to have him. And I knew that with Alan's (Gustafson) crew chiefing abilities and that team and Hendrick Motorsports resources, it was just a matter of time before they'd win. It's fantastic that they did."
TONY STEWART, NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/OLD SPICE IMPALA SS -- Finished 2nd:
YOU GUYS ARE SO CLOSE TO A WIN, TALK ABOUT TONIGHT'S RACE "To run second to Mark Martin is good; good to see him still kicking butt. I think this generation where everybody is supposed to retire a lot earlier, the longevity seems a lot more realistic now. It just shows that a guy like him can kick out butts just like anybody else. I'm really proud of (crew chief) Darian Grubb and all our guys on this Office Depot/Old Spice team. We're just chiseling away. Man, it's like I can taste it. I know it's coming. We're getting there.
"I'm just happy for everybody from Office Depot and Old Spice that believed in me when I had this idea of starting this deal last year. But I'm just really appreciative of Gene Haas and everybody at Haas Automation for giving us this chance. We're getting there, man. I'm telling you, we're so close. We're going to get us a win here soon. We're not going to let our fans down."
YOU MADE THE RIGHT ADJUSTMENTS ALL NIGHT LONG, BUT JUST NOT ENOUGH TO CATCH MARK MARTIN "Yeah, Mark was so good. On the second to last run there, we were just a little too free and never got it totally got it where we wanted it to be. But I'm really proud of these guys that kept working all day. We had one bad pit stop there and the guys came back. The very next stop was an awesome stop for us. So I was really proud and glad to see Mark (Martin) get this one. He deserved it. He was the fastest car all day."
YOU HAD AS MUCH PATIENCE AS ANYBODY TODAY "I'm trying. We're a young team and we have a lot to look forward to. These last three weeks in particular, we've just been chiseling away and inching away at it. We're close. We've just got to put the whole night together. That didn't hurt us tonight. Our guys had two great stops at the end to get us where we needed to be again. So I'm really proud of those guys for rebounding. That's hard to do. It's hard to have a bad stop and put that pressure on yourself and come back and bust two off like they did, so I'm really proud of those guys. We were the second best car today. I'm really proud of Mark (Martin) and happy to see him win this."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR TEAMMATE, RYAN NEWMAN? "I'm proud of him. They're in the same deal. We're getting that first set of notes this first half of the season. I'm just really proud of our guys. Ryan is doing a great job and whole organization is doing a good job. We're getting there. It's right at our fingertips. We're real close. We just need that little bit more, so we'll get there."
DID YOU EXPECT TO BE THIS GOOD THIS SOON? "No, nobody expects that. You feel privileged to be this good this soon. This is the best spring I've ever had I think in the history of my career here. It's nice to finally run good in the first third of the season instead of having to wait until the middle third and the last third of the year."
ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS HIGHER NOW? "No, you still just take it a week at a time. We're still going to places for the first time. It's a question mark every Friday morning when you get there. You don't know what you're going to have until practice starts. Once you get that first run of the day you have an idea of where you're at. I'm really of these guys and this whole organization and the fact that we've been close every time. We've qualified better than I've ever qualified and I'm just really proud of these guys right now."
ON THE FINAL RESTART "I was nervous about him being on old tires but we just ran as hard as we could to stay with Mark (Martin) and we stayed with him but we just weren't close enough to make it interesting."
MARK MARTIN, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS - Winner
YOU ROLLED INTO VICTORY LANE AND YOU HAD A CELL PHONE CALL FROM THE BOSS, WHAT DID RICK HENDRICK TELL YOU ABOUT GETTING THE NO. 5 BACK INTO VICTORY LANE? "He just congratulated me. He makes dreams come true. I sat and watched Rick and Tim Richmond win after he was sick; this is as big of a deal to me. It just means so much. Arlene (Mark's wife) thank you for letting me do it. Carquest, Kellogg's, Sprint, all the folks that support this thing, Chevrolet. Monster horsepower under the hood. There was enough gas in the tank. Thank you. Thank you."
FALL OF 2005 THE LAST TIME YOU WENT TO VICTORY LANE, THEN A LATE RESTART, YOU HAD NEWMAN IN FRONT AND YOU HAD YOUR BUDDY TONY STEWART WHO WAS AT YOUR OPEN HOUSE A FEW WEEKS AGO BEHIND YOU, IT DOESN'T GET ANY MORE DRAMATIC THAN THAT WALK US THROUGH. "Well I knew Tony Stewart was good for a while at the finish. I knew that I had the opportunity to loose it right there because Tony would throw anything. Tony raced me clean but he would have raced me crazy too to get the win. I knew I had to go. I went one way and then that didn't work so I went the other way and made it work. But we had the car."
"I want to thank the fans, man. I wouldn't have this job if I didn't have so many fans following me. Thanks to these guys, this is a dream come true. I really want to thank Rick Hendrick for making an incredible, incredible day in my life.
"I thought about, the thought went through my mind about back in 1989 with Jack Roush when we got our first win at Rockingham, I said my life is fulfilled. I thought about saying that again tonight. I stopped short of that but it means that much. It means just as much as getting that first one for me.
"We made a couple of minor adjustments but after that, we never made adjustments. The car went away from us a little bit in the middle of the race but it came to us in the end.
"I knew I could lose. I have lose one any way. I know every way to lose a race you know. I prayed so hard for the white flag so we couldn't have a green, white, checkered. I probably ran the fastest lap all night coming down for that white flag."
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE'S IMPALA SS, FINISHED 4TH:
"At the end of the day, it was a good day in the points. We passed a lot of cars. We had some issues with lugnuts falling off due to the glue that we used. Every time we would make up a bunch of spots and get up there in the thick of things, we would come down pit road and have a problem with those lugnuts falling off. It says a lot to have a great race car like we did and pass that many cars. It is too paid we didn't get our fourth, but our teammate got a victory. So happy for that entire No. 5 team and Mark Martin."
"We had a decent car at the start, it maybe faded a little. But after that, man, we were really strong. We drove up to the top-five, top-three a few times, come down pit road and had something going wrong with the glue on the lugnuts and the wheels. They would just fall off on our pit stops. It happened like three times. Track position is so important here. I'd work my way all the way back up there and then it would happen again. That time we got up to fourth. I really think we had a shot at winning this race if that didn't happen. But, this is racing and everything and anything will happen. Fourth is where we ended up.
"Very good for us. We fought hard for it all night. Just have to say how happy I am for that No. 5 time to go to victory lane. They have been working very, very hard. Mark Martin has been a great addition over there. Very happy for Rick (Hendrick) and everyone on that No. 5 team."
DAVID GILLILAND, NO. 71 AMERICAN MONSTER IMPALA SS -- Finished 33rd:
"The car kept getting tighter as the race went on. We fought the tightness and we were gaining on it and then we got a flat right front tire under a green flag. We had to pit. The tire was going flat for so long I think that really threw us off on our adjustments and we fell behind. It is tough. We were running pretty good early. A flat tire got us again.
"We haven't been the only team having flat tires. It is really nothing we are doing set-up wise it is just tough luck. Hopefully we can get it behind us now and get moving forward."
MARTIN TRUEX, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS IMPALA SS -- Finished 7th:
"It feels great to be running up front. The No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet was a top 10 car all night. I'm really proud of (crew chief) Bono and my guys. We have a lot of work to do, but tonight was a step in the right direction."
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 CARQUEST/KELLOGG'S IMPALA SS - Winner:
"Wow. Real proud of these guys. They work real hard. I want to thank Mr. Hendrick for the great support. How about Mark Martin. 50-year old driver. Awesome. Love him, Love him."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 88 NATIONAL GUARD/AMP ENERGY IMPALA SS, FINISHED 31ST:
"First, I want to congratulate Mark (Martin). That team was awesome tonight. We just couldn't get it right tonight and we were very loose at the end. It felt good to lead some laps. We'll get 'em at Talladega."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS -- Finished 15th:
"Our Caterpillar Impala SS just needed to be a little better. I hate it that we lost four positions over the last few laps. We got some damage racing for positions and with no grip, it made it difficult to turn through the corners. We have some information we can go home with so I'm confident in the CAT Racing team that we can use that to better ourselves next time."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 33 CHEERIOS/HAMBURGER HELPER IMPALA SS -- Finished 26th:
"We came here with an experimental set-up and with the lack of testing, you have to try different things in order to gain ground. We ran well here last year but felt we needed to improve on what we had. Unfortunately, what we tried didn't work for us. We're now tied with the most consecutive starts without a DNF so I'm proud of that. We're looking forward to Talladega."
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET IMPALA SS -- Finished 24th:
"Our Target Chevy was a top 10 car. We worked our way up to eighth, took 4 tires while many took 2. Then we got a pit road penalty for exiting too fast under another caution. We had a fast car, but we were caught a lap down. My guys worked hard and we should have had a better finish."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS, Finished 20th:
"We struggled early with the Jack Daniel's Chevrolet but we were as good as anyone late in the race. I didn't mean to get together with Dale Jr. I think he was trying to save fuel and make it to the end without stopping and I wheel- hopped the car getting into the corner and ended up making contact with him. I guess he was a little bent out of shape about it because he spun me out after the checkered flag. All in all, I think we're moving the needle in the right direction. Obviously, we wanted to finish better than 20th but we feel pretty good about where we were at the second half of the race. I'm looking forward to Talladega next weekend."
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS, Finished 30th:
"We started off pretty bad but I thought we had a handle on it midway thru the race. We got our lap back with the Lucky Dog but then the handling went away again. It was a frustrating night for the Shell-Pennzoil team."
-credit: gm racing