Martin Getting Back On Track

Mark Martin

"The past three weeks have proven to us that this hard work is going to pay off." (Photo: Getty Images)

After posting his first top 10 in the last nine races of the season last weekend at Auto Club Speedway, Mark Martin is looking to stay on track with another good run in Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bank of America 500.

Martin qualified a brand new race car in the fourth position for tomorrow night's 334-lap race at Charlotte Motor Speedway as he is in search of his first win since September 2009 at New Hamphsire.

"I bit off a little more than I could chew in turn one," Martin said about his lap. "I was uncharacteristically optimistic about turn one so I left my foot on the floor a little too long before I got there. I didn't get the corner I might have got there. But I got a sweet one down there. Just a great race car. I'm having fun."

Led by Martin's teammate, and pole winner, Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports placed all four of its cars in the top 10 in qualifying at the track where they lead all teams with 16 wins and 73 top 10s.

Last week at ACS, Martin had a competitive car and his 41 laps led were the most he's led in one race this season.

"I cannot begin to tell you how good Sunday felt out in California," Martin said. "To lead that many laps; to know that we had a winning race car -- that's what we've been fighting for."

The sixth-place finish at ACS helped put the No. 5 team back on track and it gave Martin a 10.7 average finish in his last three races.

"You know we have tried so many things and really went through a rough time," Martin said. "The past three weeks have proven to us that this hard work is going to pay off. We're building new cars and getting better every week. Sunday was exactly what we needed to prove that we are going in the right direction.

"This is a winning race team and we're going to be winning again soon."

Martin's last trip at CMS resulted in his last of five top fives this season. His fourth-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 came after crew chief Alan Gustafson made some great pit calls in the end.

The Bank of America 500 will mark the eighth Sprint Cup race of the season that will be contested on a 1.5-mile track. Martin has a 13.9 average finish so far in those races, but has yet to lead a lap.

"With the way we ran at Kansas and California, I think our intermediate package is really headed in the right direction," Gustafson said. "We had a winning race car last weekend. One that dominated for part of the race and that's a really, really good feeling. Hopefully we can bring that same kind of performance to Charlotte this Saturday."

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