Talladega II: Mark Martin preview

POINTS BATTLE: Mark Martin and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team currently rank second in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship battle, just 118 points back of teammate Jimmie Johnson. Martin, who was the points leader following the...

POINTS BATTLE: Mark Martin and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team currently rank second in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship battle, just 118 points back of teammate Jimmie Johnson. Martin, who was the points leader following the first three Chase races, and teammate Jeff Gordon (150 points back) are the only two drivers within one-race striking distance of Johnson with four events remaining in the 2009 season.

AVERAGE FINISH: The No. 5 team owns a 6.5 average finish through six races in the 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Martin holds the third-best average finish of the Chase drivers behind Johnson (3) and Gordon (5.7).

FINAL POP-TARTS RACE: Sunday's race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway marks the final outing for the Pop-Tarts/CARQUEST paint scheme.

TALLADEGA VICTOR: Martin, driver of the No. 5 Pop-Tarts/CARQUEST Chevrolet, is a two-time Sprint Cup winner at Talladega Superspeedway. Martin started third and led 88 laps en route to the April 30, 1995, win. Two years later, on May 10, 1997, Martin climbed from his 18th starting spot to earn his second win at the Alabama racetrack.

MARTIN AT TALLADEGA: In 43 career Cup starts at Talladega, Martin has earned two wins, 10 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s. He notched his two career Talladega pole positions back-to-back in 1989 (May and July) and has led a total of 315 laps at the restrictor-plate track.

OF THE CHASERS: Martin and Gordon are the only drivers inside the Chase for the Sprint Cup who have multiple wins at Talladega. Among current Chase contenders, Martin leads with 22 top-10 finishes there, and he has led the second-most laps (315) at the 2.66-mile track. His average Talladega finish (16.1) is third among those inside the Chase.

SUPERSPEEDWAY HISTORY: Martin has made 92 career superspeedway starts in Sprint Cup competition. The veteran driver has earned two wins (both at Talladega), 19 top-five finishes and 39 top-10s. He has completed 14,607 combined laps at Talladega and Daytona and has led 557 of those.

TALLADEGA CHASSIS: Crew chief Alan Gustafson has chosen Chassis No. 5-481 for Talladega this Sunday. The chassis has not been raced this year, but the No. 5 team used it to earn a seventh-place finish in April 2008 at Talladega.

HENDRICK AT TALLADEGA: Hendrick Motorsports, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season, has won 10 races and led 1,891 laps at Talladega, both track records. Additionally, Hendrick drivers have scored 41 top-five finishes and 59 top-10s there.

TOP ENGINE BUILDERS: On Oct. 21, Matt Pennell and Scott Vester built their Chevrolet R07 engine in record time (22 minutes and 57 seconds) to win the Randy Dorton Hendrick Engine Builder Showdown at Hendrick Motorsports. Pennell, a Hendrick Automotive Group (HAG) technician, partnered with Vester, a Hendrick Motorsports engineer, to win the event. Twelve teams, each of which partnered a HAG technician with a Hendrick Motorsports engineer, participated in the two-day competition, which is held in honor of the late engine builder Randy Dorton and sponsored by MAHLE-Clevite.

MARK MARTIN, DRIVER, NO. 5 POP-TARTS/CARQUEST CHEVROLET (ON HIS RACING EXPERIENCE AT TALLADEGA.): "Look, it's no secret I'm not a huge fan of restrictor plate racetracks. If you go back and look at my history at Talladega, you'll see why. (LAUGHS) This year, I really thought we had a shot of winning Daytona, but the rain got us. Then we go to Talladega, and we're out on Lap 6. Daytona in July ended in another wreck. Something's got to change here, right? I've thought for awhile now that I'm feeling good about Talladega. I think this may be a good one for us. I hope so."

MARTIN (ON THE TEAM'S TITLE HOPES.): "It's not over, and Talladega is the race that everyone has known could change things. But, the finishes we've had over the past three or four weeks obviously aren't going to cut it. We're putting everything into this race team and each race that we can."

MARTIN (ON WHAT THE TEAM NEEDS TO DO IN THE NEXT FOUR WEEKS.): "Well, we need to beat the (No.) 48, but their performance is just incredible. I think we still have something for them, and I think this (No.) 5 team can run with those guys and beat those guys. We've done it before. We've raced to win each and every race we've been in this year, and that's not going to change. We don't need to go out there and reinvent the wheel. We just need to win."

ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 POP-TARTS/CARQUEST CHEVROLET (ON TALLADEGA STRATEGY.): "There's obviously strategy that unfolds during the race, but even before the race there's two clear-cut strategies. You can race as hard as you can and try to stay up front, or you can try to lag back from the main pack and avoid any potential accidents. You have to decide which way to approach it and then decide how you want to execute that. Our strategy is not for anyone to know right now. (LAUGHS) We'll work with our teammates and make our objectives clear to them. If our objectives are the same between certain shops or cars, we'll try to work together and execute the best we can. It's not like we'll hold anything back. We'll definitely work together.

"I don't think we have to do the opposite of what (the Nos. 24 and 48 teams) do to beat them. But we, as a team, have to beat them. We have to decide which way is going to give us the best opportunity to beat those guys."

GUSTAFSON (ON THE TEAM'S TITLE HOPES.): "It's not over. I mean, there are four races left. Anything can happen. Each race pays the same points. We can't beat them at one track and win the championship. We have to beat them the next four weeks. That's the key, and it's going to be tough."

GUSTAFSON (ON HIS TOUGHEST COMPETITORS BEING HIS TEAMMATES.): "It's probably the least scary of all the scenarios. There's not much unknown there; we know what we're facing and dealing with. It's nothing that we haven't dealt with before or that isn't easily dealt with. I'd rather it be our teammates that are the toughest to beat than anyone else."

-credit: hm

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