Tough Day for Martin, No. 8 U.S. Army Team in Atlanta; Team battles to 22nd-place finish HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 26, 2008) -- Mark Martin and the No. 8 U.S. Army Team had a tough outing in Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The...
Tough Day for Martin, No. 8 U.S. Army Team in Atlanta; Team battles to 22nd-place finish
HAMPTON, Ga. (Oct. 26, 2008) -- Mark Martin and the No. 8 U.S. Army Team had a tough outing in Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The team struggled to find grip with its Chevrolet Impala SS and fell as far back as 35th, before rallying for a 22nd-place finish.
"We just weren't very good today," said a matter-of-fact Martin after the race. "The car would start out strong on a run, but we would just lose the rear tire as the run went on. I'll give Tony (Gibson, crew chief) and these guys credit for never giving up --they were like our soldiers. We threw everything that we had at it today, but nothing really seemed to get the car going."
"If you race long enough, you'll have days like this," added Martin. "We haven't had many of them with this No. 8 team, so we'll just take that and move on to Texas next weekend. We did what we could do and tried to learn as much as we could from the situation. The guys never gave up and we actually came back and got a respectable finish.
"We still have two more races in this No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevy and I'm still committed to giving everything I have to help put this U.S. Army Team into victory lane this season."
Martin entered the race having finished in the top 10 in five of their last six races, but the team never seriously threatened after the start of the race. Martin started 14th based on Sprint Cup owner points, after Friday's qualifying session was rained out. The veteran looked strong early, moving all the way to 11th position by Lap 17 of 325, but the car's handling would soon fade, with Martin falling back to 21st by Lap 44.
Gibson and the team would make several adjustments under caution trying to adjust the car's handling, but they were unable to find the needed balance of speed and handling to improve the car's position. Martin dropped back to a low of 35th and was running 30th with 100 laps remaining. However, the veteran driver was able to dig in and pick up eight more places to 22nd before the checkered flag flew.
Martin and the No. 8 team, which remained 14th in Sprint Cup owner points,will return to action Sunday (Nov. 2)at Texas Motor Speedway, where Martin finished eighth in the spring. Martin has one win, five top fives and eight top-10 finishes in 15 starts at the 1.5-mile track.
Martin will also pilot the No. 8 car the following week at Phoenix (Nov. 9), before handing the car over to co-driver Aric Almirola at the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16).