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November 7, 2013

From the Pit Box with Gil Martin: Phoenix International Raceway

RCR/HHP Photo RCR/HHP Photo

Gil Martin, crew chief for the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, started his NASCAR career as co-owner and crew chief of the No. 81 FILMAR Racing team with Filbert Martocci in 1989. In 1999, Martin went to work with Bill Davis Racing and driver Dave Blaney before making his way to RCR in 2000 as a NASCAR Nationwide Series crew chief. Throughout the years, the Nashville native has worked with current and former drivers Clint Bowyer, Mike Dillon, Kerry Earnhardt, Robby Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Casey Mears in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series.

So far this season, Martin has led Harvick and the No. 29 team to three victories, one pole award, eight top-five and 19 top-10 finishes. The No. 29 team is currently third in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, 40 points out of the lead, heading into the race at Phoenix International Raceway.

Q: How do you set the car up for Phoenix International Raceway?
A:
“Phoenix (International Raceway) used to be like a short track, but now it’s more of an intermediate-style track. It’s so fast since they repaved it, so it’s more of a 1.5-mile setup compared to how it used to be.”

Q: How does the track change during the race?
A:
“As the sun starts going down and the wind starts picking up, you start getting sand that blows around on the track and the cars generally get a little freer toward the end of the race. You have to be ready for that and tighten the car up as the race goes on.”

Q: What is the key to success at Phoenix International Raceway?
A:
“Being able to get off of turn four. Once the sun starts setting, that’s where you start losing grip. Turns one and two stay in shape because of the shade from the grandstands, but you have to be able to keep the car handling well in turns three and four.”

Q: What is your favorite race memory at Phoenix International Raceway?
A:
“Definitely winning this race last season with Kevin (Harvick). Getting that win was big for the No. 29 team and provided great momentum for us heading into the 2013 season.”
 

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