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Phoenix race recap: Martin wins at desert oval

AVONDALE, Ariz. (April 19, 2009) – Mark Martin started from the pole position and drove his No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg’s Chevrolet to Victory Lane during Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Phoenix International Raceway.

The NASCAR veteran led 104 laps of the 312-lap contest en route to claiming his first Cup win in more than three years. Martin, who ran part-time schedules in 2007 and 2008, had competed in 97 Cup events since his last win, which happened at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 9, 2005.

“No burnouts for me,” Martin told the team as he took the checkered flag on Saturday.

With the win—his 36th career Cup victory—Martin made history at the desert oval by becoming the oldest driver to reach Victory Lane there. The 50-year-old now has two career Cup wins at Phoenix International Raceway.

Martin improves to 13th in the driver standings and is nine points outside of 12th-place, which is the cutoff for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. His teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson still rank first and second, respectively, in the driver standings.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet and the three-time defending race winner, joined Martin in the top 10 with a fourth-place finish. Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet finished 25th, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet finished 31st.

“I’m very, very happy for that entire No. 5 team,” Johnson said afterward. “That number means so much to Rick (Hendrick, team owner) and his family. … Those guys have been working hard.”

Martin’s win continues a streak for Hendrick Motorsports, which now has claimed the last three Cup races this season and the last five Cup events at PIR.

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