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Martin, Gordon not giving up on season.

NASCAR veterans Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon turn attention to race wins as Chase slips away.

Talk about hangdog. Mark Martin's car had been flipped and turned into a sparking bottle rocket heading to the white flag at Talladega last Sunday. He finished 28th, and the final thread connecting him to hopes of his first Sprint Cup championship had frayed to the point of nothingness.

His frustration was evident in his tone, his words and the look on his face. Tough old Mark Martin looked liked all-in, like he would just as soon head home to drink lemonade on the porch.

The problem is, he can't. There are still three races left in the 2009 season. There are still obligations to team and sponsors and himself, and even the faintest of hopes that he still can catch and pass Jimmie Johnson in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

So this weekend, Martin will arrive at Texas Motor Speedway for the Dickies 500 and commence to picking himself up off a deck upon which he now finds himself splattered.

“I am tired of the points,” Martin, who is now 184 behind Johnson, said this week, “I'm not just saying that because of being behind. We were chasing points to get into the Chase, and now that we're here, that's all people are talking about. I'm just ready to have a fresh outlook and get back to it just being about the race itself.”

At least Martin will not be alone in his boot-strap pull. Hendrick Motorsport team-mate Jeff Gordon also went through a major deflation at Talladega. Like Martin, he was in position to gain good ground on Johnson late in the race. Although he did not crash, he ran out of fuel and limped home 20th and now trails the Chase leader by 192 points.

“I can't wait to get back there,” Gordon said of Texas.

The pessimists, the quitters, would ask 'Why?', and Martin's crew chief didn't have to dig very deep at all to answer that question.

“Winning,” Alan Gustafson said, “Winning is the biggest thing. It's a huge deal. There are a lot of good teams and good drivers that haven't won a race. We have to stay hungry. We have a chance to win at Texas.”

That is true for Gustafson and Martin, and it's also true for Gordon. Martin has a victory at the 1.5-mile track. It came in 1998, the track's second year of existence. But that is not the only time he has been in contention there. Martin has finished in the top ten in nine of his 17 starts. And he has finished on the lead lap in every one of those 17 starts - something no other driver has done.




Related Pictures

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Mark Martin, driver of the No. 5 Carquest/Kellogg’s Chevrolet, races Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet, during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. Martin finished seventh and increased his lead in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup to 18 points over Jimmie Johnson, who finished ninth. (Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, left, talks with Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 27, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Panasonic Chevrolet SS, races to second place Sunday, June 22, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Sonoma Raceway in Sanoma, California. Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Holding his son, Keelan, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, won the pole position Friday, June 13, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Harvick is 12th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Chevy`s Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Slim Jim/Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Slim Jim/Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Slim Jim/Menards Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Slim Jim/Menards Toyota, leads a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino & Resort 400 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, qualified fifth Friday, June 6, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. Gordon is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, lead the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 ENOES Chevrolet, leads Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Nationwide Series History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 ENOES Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR Nationwide Series History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet, talks to his crew chief, Greg Ives, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 22, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Josh Wise, driver of the #98 dodecoin-reddit.com Chevrolet, qualifies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 17, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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