Sixteen years after winning the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Mark Martin found victory lane in the SYLVANIA 300, the first race of the 2009 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
"I fought hard for that race," said Martin.
On Friday, pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya spoke of the mutual respect he has for Martin, as a driver in the Series that he's turned to for advice. Sunday's thrilling finish pitted the two directly against each other testing that respect.
"I have a lot of respect for Juan Montoya," said Martin. "And I had a lot of respect from him before others on the track had that."
With five laps to go, a caution took away Martin's built up lead, setting up a three lap shootout restart for the checkered flag between Mark and Juan Pablo. Martin chose the outside lane on the restart and edged Montoya in turn 1, running away to win the SYLVANIA 300. Denny Hamlin slid in to finish second, and Montoya finished third.
"Montoya had the fastest car today," said Martin. "I knew he wouldn't slip, so I tried to give him enough room. But I ran my race too."
Seven of the Top-10 finishers were Chase drivers. Martin entered the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship leading in points, due to his four wins this season. His fifth win in today's SYLVANIA 300 ensures that he maintains that points lead.
Martin, who announced a new sponsorship deal with GoDaddy on Friday at the speedway, just signed a contract extension through 2011 with Hendrick Motorsports.