No.55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Mark Martin finished eighth in Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver started on the pole for the 53rd time in his 30-year career and led the first 29 laps of the race. Martin reported the car lost grip in the left rear as he faded to 17th in the race’s middle stage. The No. 55 team worked to improve the handling making gains each stop. Martin charged back into the top 10 with less than 100 laps to go and gained two positions racing hard after a late caution. The Aaron’s team returns to action Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway with two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip behind the wheel. Martin’s next race is May 12 at Darlington Raceway.
- Started first and finished eighth.
- Friday’s pole was Martin’s 53rd career pole and second in 2012.
- Martin won the pole for the fall race at Richmond in 1981.
- Led first 29 laps of the race.
- Took wave around on lap 315 when caution flew after green-flag stop.
- Moved into 10th at lap 325 and gained two spots after a restart with 10 laps remaining.
Martin said, “That was a battle tonight. I thought we were going to finish six laps down. But they got it fixed. Never have I had a car they were able to fix like they did tonight. That was amazing. That was a well-earned eighth-place finish. I’m proud of what my guys did tonight. They didn’t give up and we walked out of here with a top-10. That’s cool.”
- Kyle Busch beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 1.095 seconds for his first victory of the season.
- Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top five.
- There were 14 lead changes among seven drivers.
- Only 19 cars finished on lead lap.
- The race ran in 2 hours, 51 minutes in front of a NASCAR estimated crowd of 88,000