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Charlotte recap: Martin, Gordon in top 10

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (May 30, 2010) – Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon took advantage of a late-race caution to improve their track position and leave Sunday’s 600-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event with top-10 finishes.

Martin and Gordon both made pit stops prior to the caution on Lap 377 and opted to stay out when the yellow flag was waved for a spin on the backstretch. Martin and Gordon jockeyed for position and crossed the finish line fourth and sixth, respectively.

“We had a good car in the second half (of the race),” said Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, who improves one position to 10th in the driver standings. “We messed up on a pit stop; we just stayed behind all day. We knew we had a good race car there at the end. We knew we didn’t need tires. Yes, to run with the front two, we needed tires, but we were strong. Great effort CARQUEST, all our supporters, GoDaddy.com, Delphi, Chevrolet. This race team pulled a rabbit out of the hat.”

Gordon, driver of the No. 24 DuPont Stars and Stripes Chevrolet, led three laps and improves two spots in the driver standings to fourth.

“Well the finish wasn’t bad, you know,” Gordon said. “I feel like that was the best we’d been. It was definitely a long, long 600 miles for us. We struggled at the beginning in the daytime and luckily stayed on the lead lap. We fought hard and got some track position and did our best to maintain it, but we just never really had it tonight. So we know we’ve got to work on some things for when we come back.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard “Honoring Our Soldiers”/AMP Energy Chevrolet, led once for 10 laps. As the race progressed, however, he was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop for debris on the grill of his Chevy. He crossed the finish line 22nd and now ranks 17th in the driver standings.

Jimmie Johnson led 36 laps early, but was involved in two mid-race incidents that hindered his No. 48 Lowe’s “Memorial Day Tribute” Chevrolet. Johnson’s team rallied, making the necessary repairs, and Johnson, a six-time winner at the 1.5-mile speedway, finished 37th.

“That first one (incident) was just a racing deal,” said Johnson, who ranks seventh in the driver standings. “I got in the fence and did some damage. We were trying to recover from that, and I was trying to run from the leader, trying to be respectful of the leader, and I had the leader on my tail coming through. We made some big adjustments to the car and basically adjusted it to free it up there, and I just spun out off of (Turn) 2.”