Army NASCAR Team Faces Tough Outing at Michigan
August 22, 2007
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Army News Service, Aug. 22, 2007) - One of the longest weekends in NASCAR history culminated in a frustrating ending for Mark Martin and the U.S. Army Race Team.
Running in the 16th position all the way to mid-point of Tuesday's Nextel Cup race at Michigan International Speedway here, Mr. Martin's 01 Army Chevrolet began to smoke heavily, bringing out the third caution of the race.
Mr. Martin and the team were forced to take the car behind the wall for an hour to repair a broken rear seal in the engine before the Army driver returned to the track. A few turns around the track and his race day ended when the engine called it quits on lap 170 of 200. He finished 42nd.
"We had a pretty good car today and it was just starting to come back to us when we started smoking," said Mr. Martin. "We had a lot of power in the engine, but had a problem with a seal somewhere. It was just an unfortunate incident."
In a race that was delayed two days by rain, Mr. Martin started 10th based on Friday's qualifying run. With the race conditions much different than they were for the final practice on Saturday, he started the race tight. His team made adjustments to slacken the car's handling on lap 31.
With the car too loose in the corners, Mr. Martin slipped to into 17th before the car's handling started to come around. Then he moved into the top 15 by lap 73. But on lap 88 the car started to smoke, ending any hopes of another strong finish for the veteran driver.
"I do have to mention the effort of this U.S. Army team today," added Mr. Martin. "The stats won't show it and most people will never know how much those guys had to work to get the problem fixed for me to get back out there. They never had a defeatist attitude - just like our Soldiers."
The 01 Army/Dale Earnhardt Inc. team dropped to 13th in the owner point standings and is now 43 points shy of being in 12th place, which is the cutoff for the Chase for the Nextel Cup cutoff.
The next race for the U.S. Army team will be Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. Aric Almirola will pilot the 01 Chevy at the half-mile track. Mr. Martin will compete in Wednesday night's Craftsman Truck race for the Wood Brothers team.
There are three races remaining before the Chase series begins Sept. 16 at New Hampshire International Speedway.