Arrow-right Camera

Keeping Pace

Mon., June 15, 2009, 5:30 a.m.

Martin Cashes In On Johnson And Biffle’s Fuel Gamble

Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Chevrolet, is congratulated in victory lane by teammate Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont/National Guard 'Year of the NCO' Chevrolet, after Martin wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday in Brooklyn, Mich. Gordon finished second. (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)  (Ezra Shaw / The Spokesman-Review)
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Chevrolet, is congratulated in victory lane by teammate Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont/National Guard 'Year of the NCO' Chevrolet, after Martin wins the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LifeLock 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday in Brooklyn, Mich. Gordon finished second. (Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) (Ezra Shaw / The Spokesman-Review)

Jimmie Johnson dominated most of the LifeLock 400 and took the lead from Greg Biffle six laps from the end as Mark Martin watched the duel from third place.

Mike Harris

Associated Press

BROOKLYN, Mich. – The most surprised person to find Mark Martin in Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway was the driver himself.

The 50-year-old NASCAR star has run well but has had to deal with considerable bad luck this season. It looked like more of the same Sunday when the battery in his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet began to fail before the halfway mark in the LifeLock 400 Sprint Cup race.

Martin turned off everything in the car that he could, nursing it as best he could. Then he realized the race was going to be a fuel economy run.

“I always, always come up short in those gas things,” Martin said. “I’m probably about 2 and 25 in these things.”

Make that 3 and 25 now.

Martin saved just enough gas to hang on for his third victory of the season and the 38th of his Cup career.

Jimmie Johnson dominated most of the LifeLock 400 and took the lead from Greg Biffle six laps from the end as Martin watched the duel from third place.

Johnson, the three-time reigning Cup champion, ran out of gas two laps from the finish, giving the lead to Biffle. But he also ran out of gas as the final trip around the 2-mile oval began, clearing the way for Martin to drive to the front.

His car also was left with an empty tank on the last lap, but Martin was able to coast to the finish line almost three seconds ahead of runner-up Jeff Gordon.

“My car was good, but I couldn’t run their pace and save gas,” Martin said. “When Jimmie ran out, I said, ‘Heck, we’re this close. I’m going to run hard. With three quarters of a lap (left), what can happen?’ ”

Denny Hamlin finished third, followed by Carl Edwards, Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya and series points leader Tony Stewart. Last year’s race winner, Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished 14th.

Johnson led 145 of the 200 laps. He managed to get his car to the finish but wound up 22nd, the last car on the lead lap.




You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to Keeping Pace
Keeping Pace

Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.