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Sprint Cup: Mark Martin wins the Subway 500 for his first victory in four years

Pole-sitter Mark Martin receives the checkered flag from NASCAR official Rodney Wise after winning the Subway 500. The victory snapped a 97-race winless streak for the veteran driver.

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Pole-sitter Mark Martin receives the checkered flag from NASCAR official Rodney Wise after winning the Subway 500. The victory snapped a 97-race winless streak for the veteran driver.

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Mark Martin continues to defy his age, becoming the third-oldest winner in NASCAR history.

The pole-sitter, 50, pulled away on a restart with six laps to go for the victory in the Subway 500 on Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway.

Martin, who has waffled on retirement several times in the past four years, led 157 of 312 laps. He was out front when teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s accident brought out a caution with 11 laps to go, erasing a four-second lead he held over Tony Stewart.

Crew chief Alan Gustafson debated with Martin on strategy before the Hendrick Motorsports team called Martin in. He won a close race with Kyle Busch off pit road, then Busch was flagged for speeding.

Martin settled into second place behind Ryan Newman, who didn't pit. Martin then shot past Newman on the restart and cruised to his first win since Kansas at 2005. It snapped a 97-race winless streak.

"No burnouts for me," he radioed his crew. "Just a backward Polish victory lap for my man Alan Kulwicki."

The last 50-year-old to win a Cup race was Morgan Shepherd in 1993 at Atlanta. Harry Gant holds the record as the oldest driver to win a Cup race. He was 52 when he won at Michigan in 1992.

Before Martin, only three drivers 50 or older had won Cup races: Gant, Shepherd and Bobby Allison.

Stewart was second, followed by Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle.

"I knew I had to go," Martin said of the last few laps. "I went one way, and that didn't work, so I went the other … and made it work."

Sprint Cup: Mark Martin wins the Subway 500 for his first victory in four years 04/19/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 19, 2009 4:33pm]
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