Phoenix: Mark Martin preview

DEFENDING WINNER: Martin, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet, returns to Phoenix International Raceway as the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner. Last April, Martin qualified on the pole position and led 157 laps of the 312-lap...

DEFENDING WINNER: Martin, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet, returns to Phoenix International Raceway as the defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winner. Last April, Martin qualified on the pole position and led 157 laps of the 312-lap race on his way to Victory Lane. The win was Martin's first at Hendrick Motorsports and his first of five last season.

POLE SITTER: Martin's next Sprint Cup Series pole will be the 50th of his career and will place him eighth on the all-time pole winner's list. Martin earned his first career Phoenix International Raceway pole last April.

MARTIN AT PHOENIX: Martin is a two-time Cup race winner at Phoenix. Along with his win last year, he went to Victory Lane there in October 1993 after leading all but 100 laps. Martin has earned 11 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s in 26 Cup starts at the one-mile desert oval.

BEST AVERAGE FINISH: Martin's average finish of 8.8 at Phoenix International Raceway is his best average finish at any oval track on the Sprint Cup schedule. Only Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International has been kinder to Martin, who owns a 7.8 average finish on the road course.

LOOP STATS: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Martin has the third-best average finish in the last 10 Phoenix races with a score of 9.2. He also possesses the third-best driver rating with a score of 103.8 out of a possible 150. In those 10 races, Martin's average running position -- 10.669 -- is the fourth-best in the Cup Series.

LAST YEAR AT PHOENIX: Martin posted top-five finishes in both 2009 Sprint Cup events at PIR. After taking the checkers in April, he returned to finish fourth in the desert in November.

NO. 5 TEAM AT PHOENIX: Since 2005 and under the leadership of crew chief Alan Gustafson, the No. 5 team has earned two wins, two pole positions, three top-five finishes and five top-10s at Phoenix. The team has led 235 laps in 10 races at the one-mile track.

THREE WINS FOR THE NO. 5: Phoenix International Raceway is a special place for the No. 5 team, which earned the first win at the track for Hendrick Motorsports on Oct. 30, 1994, with Terry Labonte behind the wheel. Under the direction of Gustafson, the No. 5 team earned its second victory there on Nov. 13, 2005, with driver Kyle Busch and another in April 18, 2009 with Martin.

POINT STANDINGS: Martin and the No. 5 team currently rank 17th in the Sprint Cup Series standings. A year ago at this time, Martin was 27th.

CHASSIS CHOICE: Gustafson has chosen Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-588 for this Saturday's race at Phoenix International Raceway. This is a new chassis that never has been raced or tested.

HENDRICK AT PHOENIX: Hendrick Motorsports, which has the most Cup wins all-time at Phoenix, has swept the last six Cup events there on the strength of Jimmie Johnson (three wins), Jeff Gordon (two) and Martin (one). Overall, Hendrick Motorsports has scored eight wins, 25 top-five finishes and 47 top-10s in 27 events (95 starts) at PIR.


MARK MARTIN, DRIVER, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET (ON HIS 2009 VICTORY AT PHOENIX.): "I remember being nervous for that race. But that's only because I knew how good our car was. We had a winning car from the time we rolled off the truck last year. The guys knew it, too, and I was so concerned with not disappointing them. We had a great race. Perfect pit stops. Very few adjustments all night long. The caution came out late, and I thought, 'You've got to be kidding me!' We had to fight off Tony (Stewart) at the end, and he's never easy to keep behind you. When we finally won, it was such a mix of relief and gratitude. It was an amazing night. One of those wins that I'm sure I'll never forget. Absolutely incredible."

MARTIN (ON WHY PHOENIX HAS BEEN SUCH A SUCCESSFUL TRACK FOR HIM.): "Phoenix has been a great racetrack for me since I first started going there. I like the short track style, and I love night racing, so I look forward to this one, for sure. I thought I was going to get a win there in 2008, and of course we did last year, which was just awesome. We had a great car there last fall, too, so I'm looking forward to getting back out there."

MARTIN (ON THE SUCCESS OF HIS RECENT FAN DAYS IN BATESVILLE, ARK.): "This year's fan days were incredible. We had about 5,000 fans from all over the country come to Batesville. We had so much fun, and I think the fans really did, too. Darrell (Waltrip) and Tony (Stewart) were amazing. It was Darrell's first time coming, and he and I got to share some really good stories with the fans; the old stories. Ones that I had forgotten about! (LAUGHS.) I gotta thank Chevrolet, CARQUEST, Go Daddy, the National Guard and the National Hot Rod Association for their help. Tony and Darrell, too. It was a great time. The event gets bigger and better every year. We're already making plans for next year's."

ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 GODADDY.COM CHEVROLET (ON THE TEAM'S 2009 VICTORY AT PHOENIX.): "We started from the pole and had a really good race car. Had some good battles with the No. 2 (car) during the race. That team is one that stands out that was really good. The No. 14 was good, too. We had to fight through those guys. We had a pit stop sequence change that got us a little far back in traffic. We got concerned when we lost the track position and clean air. We were worried if we'd be able to make it back up there. But Mark was able to drive back through there and take the lead again. It was a great night. In the end we had a little drama with the late caution coming out. We had to make that pit call and fortunately it was the right one. We went on and were able to win the race. Last year we really needed that. It was great timing. We had not gotten the finishes we had deserved up to that point. It was nice to finally get one."

GUSTAFSON (ON PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY ADDING LAPS TO THE RACE.): "I don't think the added laps will affect the setup or anything with the car. But obviously race strategy is going to change due to the length of the race being different. You have to have your car good for a tire run, regardless. Depending on how the pit stops fall, it could require another one, which will change things up, too."

GUSTAFSON (ON HOW THE SPOILER WILL IMPACT THE CARS DIFFERENTLY THAN THE WING DID LAST YEAR.): "The spoiler will definitely have an impact on the cars at Phoenix. We'll have to see just how much that impact is. We've done as much work as we can to minimize that impact, but I do think there's going to be something there. Our car was awesome at Phoenix last year with the wing. I think we're prepared to go out there and run the same with the spoiler, but we'll have to see just how big the changes will be."

GUSTAFSON (ON KEEPING THE TEAM MOTIVATED AFTER A ROCKY START TO THE SEASON.): "It's not hard to keep these guys motivated. We all feel very frustrated and feel like we're in a hole that we didn't want to be in. Indirectly or directly we're all responsible for that. It's very frustrating, but it's also motivating although there's no one who needs motivation. We've had team meetings and discussions about things that we need to clean up and do better, but everyone is extremely motivated to get in there and do it. We need the finishes as well as we've been running, or even better exceeding where we've been running. We've got to put those finishes together. We're extremely capable of doing it. We just have to make sure we don't cause ourselves any issues. A lot of the problems we've had have been self-inflicted. So we need to fix that."

-source: hm

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Terry Labonte , Jimmie Johnson , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports