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Martin, Gordon and Earnhardt finish in top 21 at Michigan

BROOKLYN, Mich. (June 19, 2011) – Mark Martin was the top finisher among his Hendrick Motorsports teammates with a ninth-place finish for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Michigan International Speedway. 

Martin, driver of the No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, started the Cup event in the 19th position and battled his way in to the top-10 by Lap 100. With his ninth-place finish at Michigan, Martin now owns the most top-10s (30) at the two-mile track. He currently is ranked 14th in the championship standings.

“Our car was much better today,” Martin said. “We had a pretty good run. I think we can take it and kind of build on that going forward. It was a good day for us after what we have been having happen.”

Jeff Gordon, who rolled off the grid 31st, worked his way inside the top-10 by Lap 163. When the race saw its last caution at Lap 192, Gordon came in for four tires and fuel. Gordon was 12th at the restart on Lap 195, but he fell back a couple positions in the final laps and finished 17th. The driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet now is ranked 12th in the championship standings.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, was running 13th with 10 laps remaining, when teammate Martin made contact with the No. 88 Chevrolet. This sent Earnhardt hard in the Turn 2 wall, which brought out the final caution. With heavy right-side damage, crew chief Steve Letarte called Earnhardt to pit road to make the necessary repairs. Earnhardt, who was 25th at the restart on Lap 195, was able to gain a couple positions before the race ended. Earnhardt went on to finish the event 21st. He remains third in the championship standings.

“I never gave up,” Earnhardt said. “Even at the end when the car was beat, we still wanted to try to get what we could at the end of the race. We tried to get as many spots as we can. Every point is a big deal out there.”

Jimmie Johnson, who started the race 21st, brought out the first caution on Lap 9 when he spun on the backstretch. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet battled hard all day to work his way through the field. When the checkered flag waved on Lap 200, Johnson was 27th. He now is fifth in the championship standings.

“It was a tough day,” Johnson said. “We got turned around early and ground the sway bar off the right front. We lost a couple laps from that, and we were just kind of in a hole at that point and couldn’t get caught back up. It’s just part of it.”

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