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Mark Martin! The veteran scores a highly popular victory, at age 50, in Saturday's Phoenix 500K


Mark Martin (5) had the car to beat all day and all night at Phoenix (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   Mark Martin, at 50, scored a big win for NASCAR's 'old schoolers' Saturday night, whipping the field in a solid victory in the Phoenix Subway 500K.
    And then he did a backwards 'Polish Victory Lap,' "in honor of my old buddy Alan Kulwicki," Martin said after career win No. 36, and his first with new team owner Rick Hendrick.

   The win was Martin's first since 2005 in October 2005, then driving for Jack Roush, and this came in Martin's eighth start with his new Chevy team.

   "Rick makes dreams come true," Martin said. "I remember watching Tim Richmond win (for Hendrick) after he got sick…and this is just so big for me."
   And long-time car owner Jack Roush joined Martin in victory lane to celebrate…as did many of Martin's old teammates from his 19 years at Roush Racing.
    Harry Gant holds the record as oldest NASCAR tour winner, 52 when he won Michigan in 1992. Morgan Shepherd was the last 50-year-old to win on the tour, in 1993 at Atlanta. Bobby Allison is the only other 50-year-old winner, doing that by winning the 1988 Daytona 500.
    It was crew chief Alan Gustafson's first win since a victory with Kyle Busch in 2007 at Bristol.
    Martin dominated the night, but he had to survive a late scare when teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashed with 12 laps to go in the 312-lapper when tagged by Casey Mears. Earnhardt then tagged Mears on the track after the race.
    That set up a series of pit stops, with 17 men on the lead lap. Ryan Newman was the only one of the 17 not to pit, so he had the lead for the final restart with six laps to go.
    Martin barely beat Kyle Busch off pit road in that 16-man battle, but then NASCAR sacked Busch with a speeding penalty – too fast entering pit road, which put Busch at the end of the line for the restart. Busch was very angry at the penalty.
    Martin said he was worried about the last restart.
   "I knew I had the opportunity to lose it right there. I knew Tony would race me clean…but I knew he would race me crazy to try to get that win," a jubilant Martin said.
   "Mark was so good," Stewart said after coming home five lengths shy. "But I'm so proud of the team. We're going to get one real soon…maybe this week at Talladega.
   "I don't think there's anybody who's not a Mark Martin fan."

Mark Martin! Finally breaks through...and with his first win as a Chevy man, after so many years as Mr. Ford (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


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