By David FerroniMay 29, 2007
CONCORD, N.C. (Army News Service, May 29, 2007) - In a wild and crazy ending at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Mark Martin and the U.S. Army Team notched an 11th place finish in Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600.
Mr. Martin overcame an early flat tire and was running in fifth position with just nine laps remaining in the season's longest race. Lacking the amount of fuel needed to go the distance, Martin brought his No. 01 U.S. Army Chevy down pit road for a splash of gas on Lap 392 of 400.
The top six finishing cars gambled to stay out and were able to go the distance, forcing the No. 01 team to settle for 11th, despite the fact Mr. Martin had run inside the top 10 for the previous 180 laps.
"This was a great effort by the U.S. Army Team," said Mr. Martin. "We had our best run at the end of the race and had a top-five car tonight. Unfortunately you don't always get the finish that is indicative of the effort."
"Still, these guys were just awesome in the pits all night," added Mr. Martin. "We struggled with the car early, but were at our best when it counted. It was a great effort and was an honor to drive this U.S. Army car and represent all of the Soldiers on this Memorial Day weekend."
Mr. Martin started the longest race of the season in 11th position and battled with the car's handling for most of the race. He was running in 15th place on Lap 98 when he radioed to the pits that he had a tire going down. The team made an emergency green-flag stop on the next lap to replace the damaged tire and Martin returned a lap down in 29th position.
The veteran spent the next run patiently moving through the field, eventually moving back to the lead lap on Lap 134. Mr. Martin ran the remainder of the race inside the top 10.
"This was a really tough race," said Mr. Martin. "You saw a lot of good cars just lose it and wreck out there tonight. There were several times where I thought I might do the same thing, but fortunately we were able to hang on. We really did have the car running at its best at the end, and it's unfortunate to get beat like that on fuel mileage. But it was a great effort and we'll come back and see what we can do next weekend at Dover."
Mr. Martin moved up to 14th in the Nextel Cup owner points. He is just two places out of Chase contention, despite having missed three of the season's 12 races. The No. 01 Army/Ginn Racing team remained sixth in owner points.
The Nextel Cup Series will be at Dover International Speedway next week when the circuit returns to the Car of Tomorrow.