Phoenix: Mark Martin preview

MARTIN, No. 8 TEAM HEAD WEST FOR PHOENIX NIGHT RACE After a strong run last week at Texas, Martin and the No. 8 U.S. Army/Dale Earnhardt Inc. Team head west to Phoenix International Raceway for the season's first Saturday night showdown. Martin...

MARTIN, No. 8 TEAM HEAD WEST FOR PHOENIX NIGHT RACE

After a strong run last week at Texas, Martin and the No. 8 U.S. Army/Dale Earnhardt Inc. Team head west to Phoenix International Raceway for the season's first Saturday night showdown. Martin and the team will look to build on their momentum following an eighth-place finish Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

Worthy Note: Martin's 608 laps led at Phoenix is not only the most in track history, but 160 more than second.

MARTIN AT PHOENIX

Martin will make his 23rd start at Phoenix International Raceway, where he won on Oct. 31, 1993. He has eight top-five and 14 top-10 finishes at Phoenix. However, his best finish in three spring races at Phoenix is 11th last season.

POINTING IT OUT

Despite running a limited schedule and having missed two of seven events in 2008, Martin is still in the top 30 in the Sprint Cup point standings; ahead of seven drivers who have started all seven events. In addition, Martin has two top-10 finishes in 2008; more than 22 drivers who have taken part in all seven events.

CHASING THE OWNER POINTS

While neither Martin nor co-driver Aric Almirola are in contention for a Sprint Cup driver Championship, the No. 8 U.S. Army team accumulates points each week as with any other team. The No. 8 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Team has tallied three top-10 finishes in seven events this season and two top-eight runs in the past three weeks, and is currently sitting 19th in owner points. The No. 8 team is just 21 points behind the 15th-place No. 2 car and 132 points outside the top 12.

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

Martin won the Phoenix race in 1993, but it probably wasn't his strongest outing at the track. Martin fans will most likely remember 2006's spring Phoenix race as 'the one that got away.' Martin's car was clearly the class of the field, leading 111 laps and building as much as a six-second lead. A problem in the pits dropped Martin to the back of the field midway though the race, but he was so strong on that night that he drove all the way back to second place before running out of fuel at the end of the race. Even with all the problems, Martin finished 11th.

MARK MARTIN:

"I'm excited about getting out to Phoenix this week. Phoenix can be a lot of fun, and I've had some really good cars there over the years. We won there in 1993 and we really let one get away from us there a couple of years ago. Still, we've led a lot of laps at Phoenix and we have some really good race cars. I'm really looking forward to going there with (crew chief) Tony Gibson and this No. 8 U.S. Army Race Team. I think it's the type of track that really suits their style as well, and hopefully we can build on what we've been doing and go there and possibly contend for a win."

"I'm really proud of the effort that we had last week at Texas. The communication was a lot better and we were able to really get the car better as the race went on. I continue to be very excited about working with these guys. These guys are a dedicated group of pure racers, and I think it will only continue to get better and better as the year progresses."

-credit: dei

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Aric Almirola , Mark Martin