Martin Wins Southern 500
Mark Martin outran his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson to win his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Southern 500 Presented by GoDaddy.com Saturday night at Darlington Raceway.
Martin, who announced this week he would return to Hendrick for another full-time season in 2010, drove his No. 5 Chevrolet to his second victory of the 2009 season.
Martin won the 1993 Southern 500 at Darlington.
The 50-year-old has now won two of the last four races this season.
Martin led the final 46 laps in his 37th career Sprint Cup victory.
"It feels great! I want to thank the fans ... (crew chief) Alan Gustafson and this race team and the boss. Hey, Rick! Thank you, man," a jubilant Martin said in victory lane.
While Martin stretched out the lead over Johnson in the closing laps, there was some concern whether he had enough fuel to go the distance.
"We never sucked any air, so I guess we had enough," he said. "I don't know. We worked pretty hard to save some gas, so I don't know how close it was. My history, I always, always, always run out. So, that is pretty neat to make it. I don't know how much we had, but we tried to save what we could."
"Out front, I was really gassing it up a lot, too, when the No. 48 would get up on me. So I knew I could be burning more than we had seen to. Just a great day. I just want to thank everybody for letting me do this. This is a great race team. Thank you, fans."
Johnson's second-place finish was impressive after the way his weekend started. After crashing his primary car in Friday's qualifying session, Johnson started his backup car from the rear of the field.
He survived a number of incidents as well as a pit road miscue but was still able to bring his No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet home behind his teammate.
Tony Stewart and his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman continued their recent surge by finishing third and fourth.
Jeff Gordon came home fifth to give Hendrick Motorsports cars or those affiliated with the team like Stewart-Haas a sweep of the top five.
Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, rookie Joey Logano and pole-sitter Matt Kenseth completed the first ten finishers.
The race was slowed by a record 17 cautions.
It was a rough night for a few pre-race favorites including defending race winner Kyle Busch who was moving up steadily in the field before his night ended with a hard hit into the wall.Carl Edwards was also a victim of the legendary Darlington wall after contact with his teammate Biffle just past the race's halfway mark. "We've been fighting real hard all night with our car and making progress and Greg just got into my left rear and put me in the fence there," Edwards said.
Gordon's lead in the Sprint Cup Series standings is now 29 over Stewart who moved into the second spot.