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Martin finishes second, Hendrick teammates in top 17 at Dover

Martin finishes second, Hendrick teammates in top 17 at Dover

DOVER, Del. - Late-race pit strategy put Mark Martin in a position to win Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Dover International Speedway. Martin opted to stay on the one-mile concrete oval while the majority of the field pitted when the caution flag was waved with less than 45 laps to go.

The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet led the field to the green flag, but wasn’t able to hold off the competition without fresh tires, and he slipped into second place. Martin managed to hold on and stay there to pick up runner-up honors at the one-mile concrete oval. His Hendrick Motorsports teammates finished inside the top 17: Jimmie Johnson took ninth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 12th and Jeff Gordon finished 17th.

“Kudos to (crew chief) Lance McGrew and everybody on this crew here,” said Martin, who improves to 11th in the standings. “Just want to give a shout out to all our supporters, CARQUEST Auto Parts, and all the guys that support us. We ran good, but we were getting ready to finish 15th again. And it’s been a shame because we’ve ran that well this year and we’ve finished 15th. Today was just a great Dover race. I love this place.”

Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, led a race-high 207 laps during Sunday’s contest and was contending for his seventh career victory at Dover when the caution flag was thrown with less than 45 laps left. Johnson, who was running third at the time, headed for pit road where teams employed a variety of strategies. Johnson’s No. 48 team decided upon four tires, a chassis adjustment and fuel. As a result, Johnson left pit road in 10th position. He improved to finish the race ninth.

“I really was (surprised four tires didn’t work),” said Johnson, who remains second in the driver standings. “I knew we were outnumbered once we came off pit road and saw so many guys come off on two (tires). At that point, I knew we were in trouble. The numbers don’t work in your favor, especially at this track.

“Overall it was a great day. We had a great race car, led a lot of laps, had great pit stops. We’re doing the things we need to do with this Lowe’s Chevrolet.”

Earnhardt started third in his No. 88 AMP Energy Sugar Free/National Guard Chevrolet and held steady inside the top 15 throughout Sunday’s race. He led one lap and finished 12th to remain fourth in the driver standings.

Gordon rallied from his 21st starting spot to run inside the top 15 as the race unfolded. The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet finished 17th and improved three spots in the driver standings to 14th.