"It’s a little disappointing because we were better than what the result showed"
Mark Martin, driving in place of the injured Tony Stewart, turned in a solid performance by finishing 15th in the AdvoCare 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.
A scheduled, green-flag pit stop on lap 234 dropped Martin to 30th as team’s differing pit strategies played out. Martin rallied to 15th before the race’s eighth and final caution period on lap 283. He took advantage of the break in action and came to pit road for right-side tires and fuel.
Martin restarted in 15th on lap 288 and crossed the finish line in that same spot when the checkered flag dropped 24 laps later.
“The Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy was good on the long run,” Martin said. “We had to work more on the short runs. And then I didn’t get that last restart quite right and I pushed up into the marbles there in turn one. It’s a little disappointing because we were better than what the result showed, but it was still a solid run for this Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops team.”
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS for SHR, led three times for 31 laps before finishing 10th. It was Newman’s 18th top-10 of 2013 and his ninth top-10 in 23 career Sprint Cup starts at Phoenix
Newman is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and entered the penultimate race of the 10-race Chase 12th among the 13 Chase drivers, 118 points behind Chase leader Jimmie Johnson. Newman leaves Phoenix in 11th, 125 points behind Johnson, who now has a commanding 28-point lead over his nearest pursuer, Matt Kenseth. Regardless of any other driver’s finish, Johnson will clinch his sixth Sprint Cup title with a finish of 23rd or better in the season finale Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 33rd. It was Patrick’s 45th career Sprint Cup start and her third at Phoenix. Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 21 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 12th.
Kevin Harvick won the AdvoCare 500k to score his 23rd career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his fourth at Phoenix. The victory kept Harvick mathematically in the championship battle, as he sits third, 34 points behind Johnson. All other drivers have been eliminated from championship contention.
Kasey Kahne finished 1.796 seconds behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. Juan Pablo Montoya, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
The eight caution periods totaled 49 laps, and there were eight drivers who failed to finish the 312-lap race.
After 35 point-paying race weekends, the 2013 Sprint Cup season culminates Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with the Ford EcoBoost 400. The race begins at 3 p.m. EST, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a pre-race show at 1 p.m.