Atlanta finish doesn't satisfy Martin HAMPTON, Ga. (March 9, 1998) - It was cold, dreary and damp all weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The results of the PRIMESTAR 500 were only slightly better for the No. 6 Valvoline Ford and...
Atlanta finish doesn't satisfy Martin HAMPTON, Ga. (March 9, 1998) - It was cold, dreary and damp all weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The results of the PRIMESTAR 500 were only slightly better for the No. 6 Valvoline Ford and Mark Martin.
Martin and the team couldn't quite find the magic that propelled them to victory the previous week in the inaugural Las Vegas 400. Late-race problems in the pits proved costly, and Martin wound up with a 25th-place finish in the fourth race of the 1998 season.
"That was a disappointing run for us," Martin said. "We had a great car, the same one we won with in Las Vegas. I don't know what happened when I thought a tire was going down. Jeff Burton had the same experience, but ours happened just before a yellow. The team worked really hard to turn this car around in a short amount of time. It was a great car, although the handling was a little off because the temperature dropped so much. We'll come back strong in Darlington."
Martin's car was tight at the start of the race, so the team adjusted air pressure in the rear tires for the first pit stop on lap 21. The car was still tight, so the crew took wedge out of the car on the second stop on lap 52. He came out of the pits 11th and worked his way up to lead lap 103 before pitting on lap 104.
Martin was able to run with the top-five cars until he felt a tire going down and pitted on lap 202 for right-side tires. The yellow flag came out two laps later, putting Martin one lap down. The team could not find anything wrong with the right-side tires, so they pitted under yellow for left-side tires. Those tires seemed fine, as well. Several other drivers had felt the same sensation of a tire going down when there was nothing wrong.
Martin continued to run with the leaders the rest of the day, but could never get his lap back. In the last 15 laps, Martin was gaining positions as other teams had to pit, but he could make it all the way on fuel. Unfortunately, he could not make it all the way on tires. As he pitted for right-side tires, the jack was dropped too soon and the rear wheel fell off as Martin tried to drive away. The lengthy pit stop cost him a few more positions.
Despite his finish, Martin dropped only one position in the standings, putting him in eighth.
Martin qualified his No. 6 Valvoline Ford Taurus in good shape for the race, with a speed of 192.206 mph. He started sixth, on the outside of the third row.
"That was a real good lap," Martin said after Bud Pole Qualifying on Friday. "We just couldn't run fast enough to sit on the pole, even though it felt perfect. This type of track is sort of my strong suit."
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series gets a much-deserved weekend off, and returns at Darlington Raceway for the TranSouth Financial 400 on March 22. Source: NASCAR Online