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Mark Martin Refuses To Play The Fuel; Wins at Michigan

Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 14 2009
Mark Martin celebrates his victory Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Mark Martin celebrates his victory Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Nick Bromberg | Special Correspondent
RacinToday.com

Mark Martin benefited from Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle running out of fuel and stole the Lifelock 400 at Michigan International Speedway Sunday afternoon.

In doing so, Martin gave his chances of  winning his first Sprint Cup championship a rather nice kick in the behind.

Johnson and Biffle had staged a furious battle inside of 10 laps to go before Johnson finally got past him with four laps left.  

However, Johnson ran out of fuel as he took the white flag, which handed the lead over to Biffle. 

But Biffle had problems as he entered turn two and started to coast down the backstretch, allowing Martin, who was a distant third, to drive by and coast to the finish line after he ran out of fuel in turn 4.

What a feeling, Martin said.

“When the 48 (Johnson) ran out, I knew the 16 (Biffle) was just right up there,” Martin said of the final two laps of the race. “I was just lollygagging.  I got past the start/finish line.  Came on the radio and said, ‘I’ve got fuel pressure right now, I’m gonna go for it.’  I jumped on the gas, ran hard.  I couldn’t believe how much I was gaining on him through the corner.  Then all of a sudden I got on the straightaway, I was really gaining on him. It was like, Whoa!  Oh, he’s out.  A lot of stuff was happening then.

“When we came off four, ours started running out.  Our battery had been going dead since lap 75.  Been nursing no fans all throughout the race, batteries back and forth, all this different stuff.

“After the race was over, I shut it off at the start/finish line, coasted all the way around.  I was gonna try to fire it up just to get it in Victory Lane.  It wouldn’t even spin over.  So it ran exactly as far as it was gonna run.  We had our hands full if we were going to try to go another lap or another mile.  That was cool.”

It all got him his third win of the season – and, hence, 30 bonus points in the Chase – and moved him into eight-place in the standings.

That’s big, of course, because the Chase features the top 12 drivers in points.

“This team deserves to be in the Chase and we were on the outside looking in with all the trouble we had,” Martin said. 

To get in, Martin knew he could not afford to run out of gas.

“It was important to me to finish this race,” he said.  “If we were in the top five in points, I would have run out today because I would have went after it.  But, you know, we just weren’t.  I just had to let ‘em go do their thing.  I couldn’t save gas and run that pace that they were trying to run both.”

Biffle, who ended up fifth, admitted after the race that the hard racing he had engaged in with Johnson in the final laps couldn’t allow him to save fuel. 

“Oh yeah, definitely,” Biffle said. “He made me use too much throttle and burned up the gas.” 

Until he left pit road third after the final caution flag, Johnson was the dominant car of the race, leading a race high 146 laps. 

“It’s a shame to have such a strong race and come back with whatever finish it was,” Johnson said. 

Johnson, who had to coast for two miles, finished 22nd.

                                                                            —

Unofficial results of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway:

  1. Mark Martin
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Denny Hamlin
  4. Carl Edwards
  5. Greg Biffle
  6. Juan Montoya
  7. Tony Stewart
  8. Kurt Busch
  9. Brian Vickers
  10. Clint Bowyer
  11. Jamie McMurray
  12. Elliott Sadler
  13. Kyle Busch
  14. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  15. David Ragan
  16. Bill Elliott
  17. Robby Gordon
  18. Kevin Harvick
  19. David Reutimann
  20. Matt Kenseth
  21. Kasey Kahne
  22. Jimmie Johnson
  23. Ryan Newman
  24. Casey Mears
  25. Joey Logano
  26. Jeff Burton
  27. Reed Sorenson
  28. Bobby Labonte
  29. Sam Hornish Jr.
  30. Michael Waltrip
  31. Marcos Ambrose
  32. David Gilliland
  33. John Andretti
  34. Paul Menard
  35. Max Papis
  36. Martin Truex Jr.
  37. Scott Speed
  38. David Stremme
  39. A.J. Allmendinger
  40. Dave Blaney
  41. Sterling Marlin
  42. Joe Nemechek
  43. Tony Raines
Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 14 2009
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