By U.S. Army RacingJuly 30, 2007
SPEEDWAY, Ind. (Army News Service, July 30, 2007) - Mark Martin overcame a broken gear and a speeding penalty to finish sixth in yesterday's running of the Allstate 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The strong performance added to Mr. Martin's impressive record at the famed Brickyard. It was his ninth top-10 finish in 14 starts at the 2.5-mile oval.
"I just want to thank Rick Hendrick and Hendrick Motorsports. I've never had a motor that ran like that in my whole life," said the 48-year-old Army-sponsored driver.
Mr. Martin started the 160 lap, 400-mile race from the 13th position. But only 12 laps into the event, he informed the crew that second gear was broken in his Chevrolet.
While Mr. Martin had major concern with the broken gear, and even told his crew not to get their hopes up, the savvy veteran delicately drove the Chevrolet the remaining 148 laps.
As serious as the gear problem was, it didn't stop him from marching to the front. He broke into the top 10 on lap 28 and was running fifth moments before the caution flag came out on lap 59.
After a quick pit stop by his crew, Mr. Martin was struck with another problem. He was assessed a pit-road speeding penalty by NASCAR on lap 62. The infraction sent him back to 26th place.
"If I hadn't messed up today we might have had a shot at it and I know we would have had a better finish," observed Mr. Martin. "I broke second gear and that made me have to guess a little on my pit-road speed. That caused me to get busted for speeding. I really thought our day was over at that point."
But the Army team roared on with an even stronger tenacity. The combination of Mr. Martin's driving skills and race strategy by crew chief Ryan Pemberton pushed the 01 Chevy back to the front. Mr. Martin was in the top 10 by lap 109.
Mr. Martin lost some track position later in the race, but in the final 20 green-flag laps he poured it on, ripping from 13th to sixth.
"This is an incredible group of guys who make up this U.S. Army race team," said Mr. Martin. "They give me awesome race cars that are unreal to drive. This was a great effort today by this team. We had to fight back from some adversity and I am really pleased with the finish. We were like our Soldiers, we never quit and completed the mission.
"I know it was a crazy week for everyone," he added, referring to the Dale Earnhardt Inc./Ginn Racing merger. "To come back and run this way and get a top 10 here at Indy -- that says a lot about the character of this team."
Despite missing five races due to his part-time ride this season, Mr. Martin is 17th in Nextel Cup driver points. The 01 team is 10th in owner points.
In 15 starts with the Army team, Mr. Martin has garnered four top fives, eight top 10s, 12 top 15s and 14 top 20s.
The top five finishers in today's race were Tony Stewart, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch and Reed Sorenson.
Mr. Martin's next race in the 01 Army Chevy will be August 5 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.