Hendrick Motorsports

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Martin enjoying 'the best year ever'

INDIANAPOLIS (July 22, 2009) – Mark Martin has a smile on his face, and it’s for good reason. Martin and the No. 5 team head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway leading the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with four wins this season. 

“I’m just pretty sure I’m grinning,” said Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg’s Chevrolet. “It’s kind of beyond my dreams for sure. It’s really cool. It’s so good to see this race team with a spring in their step and the excitement on their face. I’m sure having fun with it. I just can hardly believe it.”

Martin continually is chipping away at the tracks that have eluded him, most recently reaching Victory Lane at Chicagoland Speedway on July 11. The Arkansas native hopes to delete another one this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The Brickyard is one of five active tracks where Martin has yet to score a win. He holds five top-five finishes and nine top-10s at the 2.5-mile speedway as he prepares for his 16th Cup start there.

Martin, who already has topped the record of single-season wins for Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 team, is on pace to achieve personal highlights as well. He has scored four or more wins in four different seasons; but this year marks just the second time that he has scored four wins at this point in the season. Martin also scored four wins by the 20th race of the season in 1998 when he notched a career-best seven wins.

“This already is the best year ever,” Martin said. “It’s been the most fun ever. It’s been the most rewarding and humbling at the same time to be able to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports. Rick (Hendrick, team owner) makes it so much fun. I feel like being a part of (crew chief) Alan Gustafson’s season and watching him get recognized for the incredible ability he and this team have is just the best. And the thought that I could have been sitting at home instead of spraying champagne. All of that together, and it’s just beyond my dreams. It is already the best year ever.”

Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the first place Martin sat in the No. 5 Chevrolet. He participated in a Goodyear tire test at the speedway with the team last October. On Sunday, Martin and his team will attempt to kiss the bricks of the prestigious track.

“I’ve dreamed about winning at Indy since I was a kid,” Gustafson said. “That hasn’t faded at all. I do think about kissing the bricks sometimes. I’ve seen some cool pictures of our teammates doing that, and it looks like a very, very special moment. I want to experience that.”

The No. 5 team will be given their chance when the green flag drops for the 400-mile event at 2 p.m. ET. Race coverage begins at 1 p.m. on ESPN.