Martin gets surprise victory
Published 1:26 am Monday, June 15, 2009
BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) — The most surprised person to find Mark Martin in Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway was the driver himself.
The 50-year-old NASCAR star has run well but has had to deal with considerable bad luck this season. It looked like more of the same Sunday when the battery in his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet began to fail before the halfway mark in the LifeLock 400 Sprint Cup race.
Martin turned off everything in the car that he could, nursing it as best he could. Then he realized the race was going to be a fuel economy run.
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‘‘I always, always come up short in those gas things,’’ Martin said. ‘‘I’m probably about 2 and 25 in these things.’’
Make that 3 and 25 now.
Martin saved just enough gas to hang on for his third victory of the season and the 38th of his Cup career.
Jimmie Johnson dominated most of the LifeLock 400 and took the lead from Greg Biffle six laps from the end as Martin watched the duel from third place.
Johnson, the three-time reigning Cup champion, ran out of gas two laps from the finish, giving the lead to Biffle. But he also ran out of gas as the final trip around the 2-mile oval began, clearing the way for Martin to drive to the front.
His car also was left with an empty tank on the last lap, but Martin was able to coast to the finish line almost three seconds ahead of runner-up Jeff Gordon.