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NASCAR Winston Cup Series Dura-Lube 500 Report: #6, Mark Martin

5 November 1997

 #6 Mark Martin, Valvoline/Cummins Ford Thunderbird
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 Dura-Lube 500 Presented by Kmart Race Report
 Phoenix International Raceway
 November 2, 1997
PHOENIX, AZ - Mark Martin and the Valvoline/Cummins team headed west for the 
Dura-Lube 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Martin qualified 14th with 
a speed of 129.706 mph, locking him into the top-25 for first round 

"It slipped a little bit," Martin said. "I just didn't get exactly what you 
would call a trademark lap. It started off a little edge and from there, I 
just never got it back. There was nothing wrong with the car, I just didn't 
get the lap I got in practice."

Martin started the 312-lap race with a tight car. The crew raised the track 
bar six rounds and adjusted air pressure on the first pit stop on lap 26 
attempting to free up the car. Since very few drivers pitted that early, 
the stop put Martin out in 32nd. The car was still tight and the team 
adjusted the wedge on the second stop on lap 42. Martin worked his way up 
to 22nd, but then the car became very loose. A yellow flag on lap 131 gave 
Martin a huge advantage over his competitors since many of the them had 
pitted before the yellow, putting them a lap down. Martin moved up to 11th 
place and found a good set-up for the car so he was able to run in the 
top-10. The other break of the race came on lap 275 when Jeff Gordon was 
forced to pit with a blown tire, dropping him back to 30th. Of course, in 
true Jeff Gordon fashion, he was able to recover for a 17th-place finish. 
Martin finished sixth, but fell to third in the point standings since Dale 
Jarrett won the race. 

"We were in a deep hole starting the race," Martin said. "We just missed 
the set-up and fell way back. We got out of the hole by waiting to pit and 
we got that yellow. Now Jarrett is ahead of us by 10 points, so Atlanta is 
going to be very interesting. We still have a shot, and I'm not giving up on 
this championship."

The Winston Cup season finale is in two weeks at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 
Martin is 87 points behind Gordon and 10 points behind Jarrett in his bid for 
the championship. Martin will be racing his Winn-Dixie Ford this weekend in 
Homestead, Fla. in the Busch Series finale.

By Roush Racing Public Relations