NASCAR Martinsville 2013: Filling in for Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin finishes 10th

John Harrelson

Filling in for the injured Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin drove the No. 11 car to a 10th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway.

Mark Martin will get credit for finishing 10th at Martinsville Speedway, but it was the epitome of a total team effort.

Filling in for the injured Denny Hamlin, Martin and the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team were able to overcome numerous obstacles to finish in the top 10 in the first race Hamlin has missed since 2005.

Hamlin is out for six weeks with broken vertebrae suffered two weeks ago at Fontana and watched Sunday's race from the pits.

When the green flag waved, Martin initially struggled to find the handle on his car and lagged in the back of the pack for much of the early portions of the 500-lap race.

At one point Hamlin, who has won at Martinsville on four occasions and is always among the contenders here, even walked to the edge of pit road to help Martin find a better line around the half-mile oval.

Hamlin's sage advice worked and Martin was able to slowly work his way up through the field.

However, a setback occurred on lap 180 when Martin was collected in a multi-car wreck on the backstretch. This was compounded later by a decision by crew chief Darian Grubb to go with two tires instead of four on a day when tire wear proved to be excessive.

While Martin jumped up to fourth, he quickly slid backwards and fell a lap down.

But thanks to attrition, Martin eventually was able to get back on the lead lap and when he did so, clawed his way back to 10th.

"It wasn't that great of a result; we were capable of a little bit better," Martin said. "But we just kept stumping our toe on Friday, and then (today) we had a setback when we were about to get into position.

"I did not fill Denny Hamlin's shoes, I can tell you that much. He is the master."

Beginning next week at Texas Motor Speedway, Brian Vickers will fill the seat of the 11 car until Hamlin is medically cleared to return.

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