Mark Martin Back In Victory Lane
When Mark Martin accepted Rick Hendrick’s invitation to run a full season in one of his cars, Martin said he would do it because he figured it would give him a final shot at winning the Sprint Cup championship which has eluded him his entire career.
Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway, it appeared that Martin had it figured correctly.
Martin ran away with the victory in the Subway Fresh Fit 500, easily holding off Tony Stewart after a restart with six laps to go.
The victory was the first for Martin since 2005 when he won at Kansas Speedway. That was 97 races before.
Martin, who turned 50 in January, won for the 36th time in his career. He promptly thanked Hendrick.
“He makes dreams come true,” Martin said of Hendrick.
And then he thanked the person who gave him permission to extend his career at least one more season.
“Arlene,” Martin said, referring to his wife, “thanks for letting me do it.”
Stewart finished second and Kurt Busch was third.
Jimmie Johnson, going for his fourth straight championship, was fourth and Greg Biffle was fifth.
Jeff Gordon finished 25th and kept his points lead. But, that lead was trimmed to 85 points over second-place Johnson.
Martin, meanwhile, jumped from 18th to 13th in points.
Martin not only won the race, but he dominated it. He led 157 laps which was more laps than he led all of last season.
The victory was a popular won among Martin’s peers. Stewart, seldom happy with anything but a victory, said, “It’s good to see he can still kick butt.”
Stewart’s teammate, Ryan Newman, had the lead coming out of the final caution with six to go. But he had gotten that lead by not pitting. That is, Newman was doomed.
Martin easily shot past Newman in turn two and that was that.
Unofficial results of Saturday night’s Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway:
1. Mark Martin, No. 5 Chevrolet
2. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Chevrolet
3. Kurt Busch, No. 2 Dodge
4. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet
5. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Ford
6. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota
7. Martin Truex, No. 1 Chevrolet
8. David Reutimann, No. 00 Toyota
9. Sam Hornish Jr., No. 77 Dodge
10. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Ford
11. Jamie McMurray, No. 36 Ford
12. Reed Sorenson, No. 43 Dodge
13. Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge
14. Marcos Ambrose, No. 47 Toyota
15. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Chevrolet
16. Ryan Newman, No. 39 Chevrolet
17. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota
18. David Stremme, No. 12 Dodge
19. Brian Vickers, No. 83 Toyota
20. Casey Mears, No. 07 Chevrolet
21. Joey Logano, No. 20 Toyota
22. David Ragan, No. 6 Ford
23. Paul Menard, No. 98 Ford
24. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Chevrolet
25. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Chevrolet
26. Clint Bowyer, No. 33 Chevrolet
27. Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Ford
28. Regan Smith, No. 78 Chevrolet
29. Bobby Labonte, No. 96 Ford
30. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Chevrolet
31. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Chevrolet
32. Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Dodge
33. David Gilliland, No. 171 Chevrolet
34. Scott Speed, No. 82 Toyota
35. A.J. Allmendinger, No. 44 Dodge
36. Scott Riggs, No. 36 Toyota
37. Michael Waltrip, No. 55 Toyota
38. John Andretti, No. 34 Chevrolet
39. Robby Gordon, No. 7 Toyota
40. Sterling Marlin, No. 09 Dodge
41. Joe Nemechek, No. 187 Toyota
42. Dave Blaney, No. 66 Toyota
43. Tony Raines, No. 73 Dodge