By U.S. Army RacingJuly 16, 2007
JOLIET, Ill. (Army News Service, July 16, 2007) - Mark Martin picked up two positions on the final restart to bring home a 14th-place finish in Sunday's USG Sheetrock 400 Nextel Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway.
Mr. Martin had to come from the back of the field after wrecking his primary car in the early moments of Saturday's first practice session.
"This was just an awesome comeback by the U.S. Army Team," said Mr. Martin said. "I let them down yesterday and they really had to fight back for this finish. I'm so proud to drive this car for (crew chief) Ryan Pemberton and the No. 01 Ginn Racing team. Fighting back and overcoming adversity is what our Soldiers do every day. I am happy that we were able to do the same today.
"We had one of the best cars that I've ever had on Friday and I lost it yesterday in practice," Mr. Martin said Saturday. "But these guys really dug down and came back with all they had. To lose a car like that and be able to pull the backup out and be competitive really says a great deal about this team."
Mr. Martin was indeed stout on Friday by qualifying the Army Chevy fourth. He was forced to give up his second row starting position after the team went to the backup car and made an engine change. Under NASCAR rules, a team that makes an engine change is sent to the rear of the starting field.
The team recovered from the accident and Mr. Martin was able to participate in Saturday's second practice session.
True to character, the veteran Army driver wasted little time flexing his muscles once the green flag dropped on Sunday, picking up five spots on the first lap. He broke into the top-30 on Lap 22 of 267 and moved to 24th on Lap 46 when the field began green-flag pits stops.
By the second pit stop on Lap 58, Mr. Martin had moved up to 17th, thanks to quick stops by the 01 over-the-wall crew. He quickly moved to 16th and remained there before gaining two positions on the final lap to post a 14th-place result.
The finish was Mr. Martin's 11th top 15 in 14 races in 2007. He is ranked 18th in driver points, despite missing five races. The 01 team is ranked 10th in owner points.
The Nextel Cup Series will take next weekend off before returning to action in two weeks for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mr. Martin has eight top-10 and five top-five finishes at Indy, including a fifth-place run at the Brickyard last season.