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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)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, lead the field into turn one during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 24, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr, driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, stops in his pit on his way to a fifth place finish, Sunday, May 24, 2015, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. CPT Travis L. Patriquin, US Army, is honored on the car as part of the 600 Miles of Remembrance program.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #25 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael S. Duskin is honored on the car as part of the 600 Miles of Remembrance program.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser PrecisionChevrolet SS, qualifies for tenth position, Thursday, May 21, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Truex, Jr. is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. All 43 drivers will be participating in
Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #6 Ford EcoBoost Ford, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFinity Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 17, 2015 in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, driver of the #60 Roush Performance Products Ford, leads Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, during the NASCAR XFinity Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 17, 2015 in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Ryan Blaney, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, leads Erik Jones, driver of the #20 Interstate Batteries Toyota, during the NASCAR XFinity Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway on May 17, 2015 in Newton, Iowa. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
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Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 16, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, finishes in fourth place, Saturday night, May 16, 2015, in the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, races to victory Saturday night, May 9, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Racing with him is Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in third place. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 9, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Friday, May 8, 2015 for Saturday night`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Truex, Jr. is second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Erik Jones, driver of the #18 M&M`s Red Nose Day Toyota, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 8, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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