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Indianapolis recap: Martin finishes 11th

INDIANAPOLIS (July 25, 2010) – Although the Hendrick Motorsports lineup started Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event strong, Mark Martin scored the highest finish and placed 11th in the 400-mile event.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, started from the third position and battled early for the lead with Juan Pablo Montoya and teammate Jimmie Johnson. Martin eventually took the lead, pacing the field for 10 laps. He crossed the finish line 11th and is ranked 13th in the driver standings.

Johnson lined up his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet from the outside pole position and maintained his footing inside the top 10 during the outset of the race. The two-time defending race winner led one lap but experienced handling issues that resulted in a 22nd-place finish for the No. 48 team.

“We were just trying to make the car better on the pit stops,” said Johnson, who ranks fourth in the driver standings. “We took some time early in the race to adjust the car and correct the tight in. My car was just so tight in. I had guys out-braking me at a track where you really don’t charge the corner. We were really confused as to why.”

Jeff Gordon started eight in the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet and never dropped out of the top 15 until late in the race. With about 30 laps to go, Gordon shredded a tire. The unscheduled pit stop jeopardized his running position, and he crossed the finish line 23rd behind Johnson.

“We just didn’t have it,” said Gordon, who is ranked second in the driver standings. “We looked pretty good in qualifying but I thought in practice we were going to be better. As a group, we’ll go back and review everything and try to see what we’re missing and we’ll pay attention to the competition. This is a unique place. We all want to win here.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. started 17th and ran as high as 13th during Sunday’s race. The driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet also experienced handling issues during the middle of the race that affected his forward progress. He worked with crew chief Lance McGrew to address the issue, and the No. 88 team was attempting to charge through the field when Earnhardt was collected in an incident with Montoya in Turn 4. Earnhardt finished the event 27th and is ranked 14th in the driver standings.

“Right in the middle of the race, it got real tight,” Earnhardt said. “Then we fixed it. I felt like we were pretty good coming up through there. Right at the end, I felt like we had a good car, a good top-10 car. (Juan Pablo) Montoya got in the fence there and just kind of pulled down and stopped in front of us. I was side-by-side with somebody. I didn’t even see him hit the wall, I didn’t even know there was a car in the wall until he came across the No. 47 (Marcos Ambrose) hood and there he was, I ran right in the back of them, nowhere to go.”

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