Hendrick Motorsports

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Martin ready for round two in Atlanta

ATLANTA (Sept. 3, 2009) – Despite starting on top last March at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Mark Martin didn’t leave the 1.54-mile track on a positive note.

Martin lined up from the pole position and held steady in the top 10 until Lap 216 when a blown tire changed the day. Martin finished 31st, and his team dropped to 35th in the standings.

“At that point, I didn’t think we could do it (rally back),” said Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST/Kellogg’s Chevrolet. “Not with the level of competition in this sport. We had three bad races in a row. And I didn’t think there were too many teams that would have that much trouble as well.”
That was then.

Four wins, seven top-five finishes, 12 top-10s and 20 races later, the No. 5 team is back in contention.

“We have done a lot of racing since the last Atlanta race,” Martin said. “I feel that we are stronger as a race team and our cars just keep getting better and better. We’ve been able to work together a lot more and have really gotten on a roll, especially since our win at Chicago. I feel really good about going back to Atlanta. It’s a great track to race on.”

This Sunday, Martin will fire up the same No. 5 Chevrolet he raced to a checkered-flag victory at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and Chicagoland Raceway. He currently ranks 10th in the driver standings – 25 spots ahead of where he was sitting just six short months ago – leading 13th by 60 points as he heads back to Atlanta for a second go-round.

“This season has just been remarkable,” Martin said. “And this team has been remarkable. The performance we’ve had this year is great, and we’ve really been able to capitalize on that by leading laps and leading the most laps to earn those bonus points. Then we had the four wins on top of that, and all of that together was able to put us back in contention.”

The No. 5 team will try for its fifth win of the 2009 season this weekend at the quad-oval speedway. Race coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN, and the green flag is scheduled to drop at 7:30 p.m.