Martin Rolls into Phoenix

Mark Martin

Mark Martin is a two-time Sprint Cup Series race winner at PIR. (Photo: Getty Images)

AVONDALE, Ariz. - Mark Martin brings a streak of solid finishes into Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, where he’s had a stellar career in the Sprint Cup Series.
 
Martin is a two-time Sprint Cup Series race winner at PIR and has earned 12 top-five finishes and 18 top 10s in 27 career starts.
 
He went to victory lane with Hendrick Motorsports at the one-mile oval in April of 2009 and is looking forward to trying to notch his second win with the team this weekend.
 
“Phoenix has been a good track for me since we first started racing there,” Martin said. “I've had a lot of success at that track. Short track racing just works for me. I love it. It reminds me of the tracks I grew up racing on.”
 
Martin remembers the times he’s come close to winning as well as when he was able to get victory lane.
 
“You know, I almost won at Phoenix in 2008, then turned around and got my first win with Hendrick there last year,” he said. “I'll never forget that night, so this track will always be special to me for that.”
 
Martin’s recent performance has been special and more on par with his 2009 season when he was in the championship battle right down to the wire.
 
With his third-place finish last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, Martin moved up to 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings, the highest the team can finish in the postseason. If Martin had qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, he currently would be fourth in the standings.
 
“This is how we ran last year and I do feel like we’ve been able to put some things together lately that for whatever reason were missing earlier in the year,” said Martin. “We’d love to get a win here to end the year and Phoenix is an excellent chance to do just that.”
 
Crew chief Alan Gustafson concurs with Martin’s assessment of the team as well as the importance of ending the season on a high note.
 
“It means everything at this point in the game,” Gustafson said of the team’s recent performance. “The highest we can finish in points is 13th, so we want to achieve that. We really want to win a race before this year is over, too. Watching how this team has come together over the last eight races has really been a confidence booster for all of us.”
 
Gustafson believes changing things up and experimenting has played a big role in upping the performance of the No. 5 team. He’s hoping that hard work will pay off with two strong runs to end the 2010 season.
 
“We've been trying new things and really working hard to improve our performance,” he said. “I think that we've done that. Ending the season when you're improving yourself is a great motivator when you're getting ready to hit the track in Daytona.”

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