The Time is now for Martin & Hendricks

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The Time is now for Martin & Hendricks

Post  luckyGordongrl on Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:09 pm

Crew chief Alan Gustafson and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team face a lot of pressure this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. For starters, the team and driver Mark Martin have suffered two engine failures in the last two races and are deep in the points standings.

Plus, Martin said he’s never had a bad car at Atlanta in his 46 starts at the 1.54-mile track.

"I feel horrible for Mark that we haven't been able to give him a piece that has made it through a whole race, but I'm positive that we'll get that fixed,” Gustafson said. “We've had great race cars. We've been strong in every race so far, we just haven't been able to get to the finish.

“We can't let this situation like other teams get ahead of us. They have more pit stop experience than us now, and more laps than we do. We just have to keep our performance up to the level it has been, and we'll be fine."

Martin finished 16th in the season-opening Daytona 500 but then blew engines at both Auto Club Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway that resulted in 40th-place finishes.

Three races into the Sprint Cup season, Martin’s No. 5 team is 34th in the owners standings, only seven points ahead of the 36th-place team of TRG Motorsports. The top 35 are locked in each week’s race, with the 2008 standings used in the first five races this year.

That means if Martin struggles in the next two races, he could be faced with needing to make the Martinsville race March 29 via qualifying.

But Gustafson is confident in his team.

"I have always believed, and still do, that Hendrick Motorsports has the best engine builders in the business,” Gustafson said. “I know that they'll fix the problems that we've had, and it won't continue.

“Adversity is what builds strong teams. We've definitely had our share already this season. It's in adversity that you really see how people are and how they react to situations. While unfortunate for sure, these issues will make us a stronger team throughout the season."

As for this weekend’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta, Martin is clearly confident in his team. Asked for his favorite memory of the track on which he’s raced since 1982, Martin said it should be one of his two victories.

“But my favorite memory hasn't happened yet,” Martin said. “It's going to be when I win there again! Hopefully this weekend."
Part of Martin’s confidence heading to Atlanta is based on his stellar record there. Including his two wins, Martin has 13 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes.

“I love Atlanta,” Martin said. “The track drives just like the short tracks I raced on back in Arkansas. The track is like a monster, but it's really like a short track. I've always liked this track since the first time I raced it in 1982. I've been fortunate to run well there.

“I've never not been comfortable at Atlanta. I've never felt like we had a bad car. It's just one of those tracks that I instantly enjoyed racing on."
And now, he’ll head there with the powerhouse Hendrick team.

“Mark will do well for us,” Gustafson said. “It's his kind of track and his statistics definitely show that. We're excited to get there with him."

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Re: The Time is now for Martin & Hendricks

Post  The Wicked One on Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:33 pm

This is Mark's last shot to win a title!

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Re: The Time is now for Martin & Hendricks

Post  luckyGordongrl on Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:44 pm

I'm really rooting for him to do it. He has come so close so many times, I will be very happy if he finally wins the Cup, before he goes.

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Re: The Time is now for Martin & Hendricks

Post  The Wicked One on Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:49 pm

Well he's off to a good start this weekend.

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