Watkins Glen: Mark Martin preview

POINTS: With a seventh-place finish at Pocono Raceway last Sunday, Mark Martin and the No. 5 GoDaddy.com team improved their chances of making the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Martin cut his points deficit from 62 to 34 behind 12th-place...

POINTS: With a seventh-place finish at Pocono Raceway last Sunday, Mark Martin and the No. 5 GoDaddy.com team improved their chances of making the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Martin cut his points deficit from 62 to 34 behind 12th-place Clint Bowyer with five races remaining until the Chase begins.

GOING FOR FOUR: Martin is a three-time winner at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, having reached Victory Lane from the pole position in 1993, 1994 and 1995. He led the most laps in each race and combined to run 183 laps during those three victories.

MARTIN AT THE GLEN: In 20 Sprint Cup Series starts at the upstate New York road course, Martin has earned three victories, three pole positions, 12 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s. He has led 204 laps and has completed all but four of the 1,763 laps he's attempted. He holds an average start of 9.1 and average finish of 7.8 there -- his best average finish at any track on the Sprint Cup circuit.

TRACK BESTS: Martin's 12 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s rank as the most all-time for any Cup driver at the 2.45-mile road course. Ricky Rudd has the second-most top-five finishes with eight, while Rudd and Rusty Wallace are tied with the second-most top-10s at 10 apiece. Martin's three pole positions tie him with the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. for most all-time at the racetrack.

TOTAL ROAD COURSE EXPERIENCE: In his 28-year Sprint Cup career, Martin has competed in a total of 44 road course events -- 20 at Infineon Raceway, 20 at Watkins Glen and four at now-defunct Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. In those 44 starts, he has earned four victories, scoring each one from the pole position. He also has recorded a combined 20 top-five finishes and 32 top-10s. He has led 365 laps combined at the three tracks.

THE NO. 5 TEAM: Under the direction of crew chief Alan Gustafson, the GoDaddy.com team has earned two top-10 finishes in five Cup events at Watkins Glen. The team earned its best finish -- seventh -- at the road course with Gustafson in 2007.

CHASSIS CHOICE: Gustafson has chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-608 for Sunday's race at Watkins Glen. This is the same chassis that Martin drove to a 14th-place finish at Infineon Raceway in June.

BIRTHDAY: Gustafson will celebrate his 35th birthday on Thursday. Gustafson, a native of Ormond Beach, Fla., joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1999, working in the team's chassis shop. He started working with the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team as its shock specialist the following year. In 2002, he was named the team's lead engineer, and three years later was named crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet.

MARK MARTIN, DRIVER, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET (ON WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL.): "This is the superspeedway of road courses. I love this place. I've always seemed to run a little better at Watkins Glen than I have at Sonoma. I typically run better on intermediate racetracks, and that's how Watkins Glen feels. Sonoma is more like a tight short track. It's a hard-braking track. Watkins Glen is more open and has more speed. I'm looking forward to getting back there."

MARTIN (ON THE TEAM'S LAST RACE AT WATKINS GLEN.): "Last year was a struggle for us. I think if we had to pick the race that frustrated us all the most in the 2009 season, Watkins Glen was it. Because of that, this GoDaddy.com team has really worked hard on its road course program. We've tested a lot. They've put a lot of concentration on how to make our performance better. I'm really confident in this race team and the effort they've put into this. I think our performance will be way better than what we experienced last year."

MARTIN (ON THE TEAM'S CHANCE TO MAKE THE CHASE.): "I know this is going to be hard. I know we have our work cut out for us. But I 100 percent believe we can make the Chase. The improvements this team has made over the past month or so are incredible. We've had a competitive car in the past two races and that was something we were shooting for. If we can keep finishing inside the top 10, we're going to tick those points off. It's not going to be easy, but we can do it."

ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET (ON THE TEAM'S ROAD COURSE PROGRAM EFFORTS.): "Last year was disappointing for us as far as road courses were concerned. Out of all of the races, Sonoma and Watkins Glen surprised us the most. We just weren't any good. We spent the off season and a lot of this season concentrating on how to change that. We need better road course cars, and we need to be more prepared if we want to succeed on road courses. I think we've improved. From our performance in Sonoma earlier this year, I'd say we improved over 2009. It wasn't a great finish, but it wasn't the struggle we had last year. Our efforts are going to help our performance, We'll just have to wait until Sunday to see how much."

-source: henrick motorsports

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Clint Bowyer , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports