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The Pit Stop


April 19, 2009 4:54 AM

Mark Martin still has it.

Jimmie Johnson is looking to win his fourth race in a row at Phoenix as Sprint Cup drivers raced in the Subway Fresh Fit 500.  Mark Martin who is a having a hot year qualifying picked up his third poll of the season.

Jeff Gordon said that his car was fast in practice. Jimmie Johnson said that he went back to a previous setup

The race started out with a couple long green flag runs.  The first one lasted 54 laps with Mark Martin leading them all.  During pit stops Dale Jr. had to pit twice while Mark Martin kept the lead of the race.

The second one lasted until lap 103 for a debris caution where Mark Martin led all the green flag laps again.  During this round of pit stops it was Kurt Busch who had been in second place for most of the race so far beating Mark Martin out for the lead of the race.

This led to a shorter green flag run with Kurt Busch leading all the laps and on lap 138 it was a David Stremme spin brining out the caution.  Lead cars pit and it was Kurt Busch leading the race off pit road.

Next up was a short green flag run that saw on lap 150 Jeff Gordon getting a major tire rub.  Then on the next lap A.J. Allmendinger spins out and hits the wall.  Jeff Gordon, Dale Jr. and some others pit.

Kurt Busch though stays out to keep the lead of the race.  The green flag dropped and we got another short green flag run where on lap 167 Michael Waltrip and Robby Gordon get together.  Robby got some major back end damage from the incident.  Robby Gordon said Michael ran us over.

Most of the cars pit this time, but Dale Jr. stays out to lead the race. After the green flag dropped Dale busted out the biggest lead by the leader of the race so far.  Kyle Busch in sixth was the first car that pitting and was marching his way up to second.

At lap 200 Tony Stewart moved passed Kyle Busch into second and started to cut into the 4-second lead of Dale Jr. big time.  By lap 212 it was almost cut in half.  In six laps Tony passed Dale for the lead of the race.

With 86 laps left Dale Jr. had to make a scheduled green flag pit stop.  Five more laps go by and Marcos Ambrose comes in.  Then two laps later and Jeff Gordon comes in, but winds up getting a penalty for a missing lug nut.

With 74 laps left Mark Martin was able to pass Tony Stewart for the lead of the race.  Then the massive amount of green flag pit stops started to occur. Brian Vickers and Jjuan Pablo Montoya both wound up with penalties for entering pit road too fast

With 68 laps left though pit stops cycled though and Dale Jr. got the lead of the race again.  His lead was back up to 4 seconds again, but with 57 laps left Mark Martin was able to get the lead of the race again.

Dale Jr. started to fade back as cars started to pass him.  With 50 laps left he was back to 8th.  

With 40 laps left Mark Martin had an almost 3 second lead over Tony Stewart in second.  Jeff Gordon though was back in 30th.  With 25 laps left the lead was up to four seconds.  With 12 laps left the caution finally comes out for Dale Jr. as he wrecks.

This caution brought in all the leaders, but Ryan Newman and Mark Martin just barely beat out Kyle Busch, but Kyle wound up with a penalty for exiting pit road too fast.

With six laps left the green flag dropped and Mark Martin shot out like rocket on the high side and passed Ryan Newman real quickly.  Mark was able to cruise on and win his first race since 2005 and one of the very few win a race at the 50+ age bracket.

"He makes dreams come true," said Mark Martin on Rick Hendrick. Mark said that Tony Stewart raced him clean and crazy.  The win breaks an almost 100 race winless streak.

"It is still good to see him kicking butt," said Tony Stewart on Mark Martin.  

Jeff Gordon though was still able to escape Phoenix with the points lead and leads Jimmie Johnson by 85 points.

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