Martinsville II: Mark Martin preview

POINTS BATTLE: Mark Martin and the No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST team currently rank second in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship battle. Martin, who was the points leader following the first three Chase races, trails Hendrick Motorsports...

POINTS BATTLE: Mark Martin and the No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST team currently rank second in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship battle. Martin, who was the points leader following the first three Chase races, trails Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson by 90 points.

AVERAGE FINISH: The Kellogg's/CARQUEST team owns a 6.2 average finish in the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup, despite picking up its first Chase finish outside of the top-10 on Saturday evening at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Martin holds the third-best average finish of the Chase drivers.

MARTIN'S-VILLE: Martin has won twice at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, going to Victory Lane on April 26, 1992, and April 9, 2000. He also has earned 11 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s in 43 Cup starts there. Martin has completed more laps -- 20,073 -- at Martinsville than any other track and has led 318 of those. He earned three straight pole positions at the .526-mile oval from September 1990 to September 1991.

OF THE CHASERS: Martin is one of four drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with multiple wins at Martinsville Speedway. He is tied with Johnson for the second-most Martinsville top-five finishes and ranks third among Chase drivers in top-10s there.

REMARKABLE SEASON: In NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-to-date statistics, Martin is the second-fastest driver early in green-flag runs, as well as late in green-flag runs. He also has posted the fastest lap 583 times this year -- the second most of any driver. He has had the second-highest green-flag speed throughout the season and has spent the second-most amount of laps -- 7,188 -- in the top 15. Johnson leads all of these categories.

MOST RECENTLY AT MARTINSVILLE: Earlier this year, rain showers canceled qualifying at Martinsville, causing Martin and the Kellogg's/CARQUEST team to line-up 31st on the starting grid. Martin overcame that starting position to finish seventh.

NO. 5 TEAM AT MARTINSVILLE: Under the direction of crew chief Alan Gustafson, the No. 5 Kellogg's/CARQUEST team has earned three top-five finishes and seven top-10s at Martinsville. The team has led a total of 126 laps, all of them in 2007 when it finished fourth in both events with Gustafson at the helm.

NEW CHASSIS: Gustafson has chosen Chassis No. 5-561 for Martinsville Speedway this Sunday. This chassis never has been raced, but was tested last week at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway.

HENDRICK AT MARTINSVILLE: In 51 races (154 starts) at Martinsville, Hendrick Motorsports has 18 wins, 53 top-five finishes and 86 top-10s, all of which are the most for the organization at any racetrack. Johnson most recently visited Victory Lane at the short track in March, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Hendrick Motorsports' first win, which happened at Martinsville on April 29, 1984.

MARK MARTIN, DRIVER, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST CHEVROLET (ON THE TEAM'S 17TH-PLACE FINISH ON SATURDAY EVENING AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY.): "We have had some great weekends this year. We've done better and won more than I ever dreamed of. And with that, you've got to take the not-so-great weekends, too. And that's what happened. It's all in how you handle it. And this team could've given up, but they didn't. We fought for the best finish we could get, and, unfortunately, that was 17th. That's just racing. That's what happens."

MARTIN (ON HIS CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES.): "Did the 17th-place finish hurt? Yes. But it's not over. I still say, like I've said all along, we've got to get through Martinsville and Talladega (Ala.). Then we'll have a clear view of what's going to happen here with this championship. Give us those two more races to see."

MARTIN (ON DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS AT MARTINSVILLE.): "No one really knew what to think when double-file restarts started at any track. But, so far, I think they've worked out really well. I don't worry about them too much. With how tight Martinsville is, it's probably going to get a little intense sometimes. But overall I don't think it will be any crazier than it has been in most other races."

ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 KELLOGG'S/CARQUEST CHEVROLET (ON GETTING PAST THE TEAM'S 17TH-PLACE FINISH LAST WEEKEND.): "We just go to Martinsville. We really have no choice. The key for us is to run as well as we can. We can't control anyone else. We've kind of put ourselves in a position where we're in a hole. It's not like we have to go to Martinsville and gain back 90 points. We have to gain 90 by Homestead (Fla.). If we just go to Martinsville and do the best we can, work hard, get the car right, have good pit stops and strategy and execute all day long, we'll get a good finish. Hopefully that will get us closer to our goal than we are right now. We just move on."

GUSTAFSON (ON ANY LINGERING CONCERNS FROM LAST WEEKEND AT LOWE'S.): "You always worry anytime you have a bad weekend. You question what happened and how you got in that situation and how to make sure you're not in that situation again. There weren't many signs that made us think we were going to struggle last weekend like we did. When you do struggle, you gotta make sure it doesn't happen again. I know we can fix it. I don't think we need to reinvent the wheel. We just have to clean up a few areas."

GUSTAFSON (ON THE TEAM'S FOCUS AT MARTINSVILLE.): "Winning. The same thing it's always been. I felt that way going into Charlotte and every other week. We don't approach any race differently. We just go to win, and the rest will take care of itself. Sometimes you accomplish it, and sometimes you finish 17th. It's just the way the sport goes. We can't re-adjust what we do or change our strategy. I don't think it would have gotten us in any better position last week. We just work on our mistakes, get better and go to Martinsville trying to win."

GUSTAFSON (ON DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS AT MARTINSVILLE.): "I think the strategy will be a little different because before, as you got back in traffic, you would have to deal with lapped cars. So part of the problem with getting tires and losing track position, is that you would not only have to fight your way past the leaders, but also the lapped cars. That's not the case anymore. You'll be racing for position, so I think the strategy will vary some. Tires may be a little more important because you can use them up a little quicker. I do think it will change the outlook of the race some. It will still be Martinsville, but the double-file restarts will throw a little wrinkle in it."

GUSTAFSON (ON HIS OUTLOOK FOR THE FINAL FIVE RACES.): "Winning. That's it. I can't predict who is going to run where or where Jimmie (Johnson) is going to have a weakness. I can't do that. The way to score maximum points is to win. Regardless of what the (No.) 48 does, that's the best thing we can do. There's no strategy. You can't project or figure. You've got to win. And that's what we're trying to do. If we win, we will gain the most points possible, whether they finish second or 30th. There's nothing more than trying to win. Second doesn't matter to me; I don't care if we're second, third or fourth in points. It's about the championship. We're not going to race with reckless abandon, but winning is where it's at. If our best shot at winning the championship may put us at risk to finish third or fourth in the points, then fine. Second to me would almost be an insult. As good as Mark is and as hard as this team has worked, they deserve to win. So I'm not real interested in second."

-credit: hm

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