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Texas recap: Martin, Johnson in top 10

FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 7, 2010) – Mark Martin scored the third-place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway, while his championship-contending teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon encountered some misfortunate in the 334-lap event. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 25th in his No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, led four times for 36 laps on Sunday. A previous winner at Texas, Martin was able to contend for the win in the closing laps after staying out when the caution flag was waved on Lap 328. On the restart, the front row of Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth was too strong, and Martin chased them to earn the third-place result.

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, salvaged his run to turn in a ninth-place finish. After starting 17th, Johnson worked his way through the field. But several early issues on pit road hampered his progress, and crew chief Chad Knaus made a change in the No. 48 team’s over-the-wall crew around the Lap 200 mark. Just nine laps prior, Gordon had been sidelined after an incident with Jeff Burton in Turn 2. Gordon had started 15th in his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, but his hopes of making up any ground in the championship standings were dashed after he tangled with Burton’s No. 33 Chevrolet. Gordon retired to the garage with the 37th-place finish and a sixth-place ranking in the standings, while his crew went to assist the No. 48 team.

Johnson, who led one lap on Sunday, now ranks second in the championship standings, 33 points behind leader and Texas race winner Denny Hamlin.  With two races remaining in the Chase, the Cup Series heads next to Phoenix International Raceway, where Johnson owns a Series-best 4.9 average finish. Johnson, the four-time defending Cup champion, owns four wins at the flat desert oval.

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