Chicagoland: Mark Martin preview

DEFENDING WINNER: Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet, went to Victory Lane last year at Chicagoland Speedway, scoring his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the 2009 season. Martin started 14th and took the lead within the...

DEFENDING WINNER: Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet, went to Victory Lane last year at Chicagoland Speedway, scoring his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the 2009 season. Martin started 14th and took the lead within the first 42 laps. He went on to lead a race-high 195 laps and earn his first career win at the 1.5-mile racetrack.

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 started first at Chicagoland, making it one of six tracks where he has yet to earn the pole position.

POINTS: With eight races remaining until the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Martin ranks 13th in the standings, just 39 points behind 12th-place Carl Edwards. Martin has scored five top-five finishes and six top-10s during the first half of the season.

CHASSIS CHOICE: Gustafson has chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-600 for Saturday evening's race at Chicagoland Speedway. This is the same chassis Martin drove to a fourth-place finish in the May 30 race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

MARK MARTIN, DRIVER, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET (ON LAST YEAR'S WIN AT CHICAGOLAND.): "The restarts at the end of that race were intense. I just knew, from earlier restarts, that the guy on the outside had the upper hand. I didn't want to be out there, but I had to. Jeff (Gordon) was down on my inside with new tires, and I thought, 'This may not work, but I'd rather him be more vulnerable than me.' Once those guys got together and we took the lead, I knew I wasn't going to let anyone catch us. It was an incredible win. An incredible weekend. We were so good all weekend that we could have completely skipped the final practice. And, if you remember, we got the win on Rick's (Hendrick, team owner) birthday. One of those absolutely perfect nights."

MARTIN (ON THE GODADDY.COM TEAM HALFWAY THROUGH THE 2010 SEASON.): "Well, obviously we haven't won the races we won by this point last year, but I do think this race team is better than it was a year ago. We've struggled a little with the switch to the spoiler and that's cost us, but we're learning. And we're getting stronger. Our communication level is much higher than it was in our first year together. And the fight I see in these guys is incredible. No one gives up. Ever. No matter where we finish, I'm always proud of the guys on this team."

ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET (ON LAST YEAR'S WIN AT CHICAGOLAND.): "We had a nearly perfect Chevrolet for the last 200 laps of that race. When Jimmie (Johnson) got by us on the one restart, we saw why he's as good as he is. He knew our weakness -- that we were too loose at the start of runs -- and exploited that to take the lead. The race from that point really went by in a blur until about three laps to go. We had a great car, but we also had an extremely intelligent and patient driver behind the wheel. When everyone else was racing real hard there at the end, he could've gotten right in the middle of that. It's almost like he can see ahead of the action and know how it's going to turn out. He just backed off the gas then drove right by them. It was a great win. The best kind of win. To go out and dominate all night, that's how I wish every race was for us. It would be boring for the fans, but perfect for us."

GUSTAFSON (ON THE KEY TO DOMINATING A RACE.): "Everything has to be right -- from pit stops to the car to pit stalls to the way you call the race to the way the driver drives the race; you just have to do everything right. When you get in that situation, though, the kind of ironic thing is it was probably easier than running 10th. When things are lined up right for you, you can knock them down pretty easily. As you're doing it, it's like, 'Man, this is the way it should be.' I won't say it's easy because that's not accurate, but it feels that way."

GUSTAFSON (ON THE SETUP THE NO. 5 TEAM WILL TAKE TO CHICAGO.): "There's been quite a few changes, but we're going to start where we raced last year just to try to quantify the wing to the spoiler. There's also a tire change, and obviously the track has aged. But that's where we're going to start, and I'm sure we'll have to deviate from it. The world keeps turning and things change, but we're going to start there to give us a solid footing. The nice thing about having such a good car at Chicagoland is now we can go back there with the same stuff and not question if it was good. We know it's good. Now we can just focus on what's changed. That's going to help us out."

GUSTAFSON (ON HIS TEAM AT THE HALFWAY POINT OF THE SEASON.): "I think the team's done well. The work ethic has been great, and the energy and execution have been good. We've just struggled for performance. We haven't had the speed in the car. I don't know that I would put that on the team guys. That's more my responsibility and Mark's responsibility. For whatever reason, we've struggled there some. That's something we've got to work out. I'm pleased with the team. I'm not pleased with the performance, but I don't know that you ever are. So we've just got to push forward. That's the biggest thing. You can't look back. I don't know that I could put a grade on it, but I think that the team has done a really good job. We've just got to find a little more speed in the car."

-source: hendrick motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports