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Coca-Cola Family has great run at M'ville

April 03, 2012, Andrew Shain, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Newman gives group its fourth victory of season as all eight finish 23rd or better

Stewart-Haas Racing has added fizz for the Coca-Cola Family during the past two weeks.

One of SHR's drivers won his first race of the season at Martinsville on Sunday, a week after his teammate took his second checkered flag of the year.

Coca-Cola drivers have won four of the season's six points races.

Sunday at Martinsville, the eight family members finished within the top 23 -- their best group performance of the season.

And the points leader has the red-and-white brigade atop the series standings heading into the Easter break.

Ryan Newman

Martinsville finish: first

Season standings: eighth

Newman has won races in three consecutive seasons with a come-from-behind effort at Martinsville. Starting fifth, he fell back to as low as 21st after picking up a pit-road speeding penalty and fell a lap behind. Newman got the lucky dog on Lap 265 and climbed from 13th into the lead after Clint Bowyer took out race leaders Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered. The win was his first on the circuit's shortest track, and he gained two spots in the standings.

What he said: "No doubt an impressive day for us. For me to take us out of the game, and we ended up going a lap down because of my speeding penalty, and the guys did an awesome job in giving us the car to make the changes. We were not a dominant race car [Sunday], but we put ourselves in contention. We were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time."

Denny Hamlin

Martinsville finish: sixth

Season standings: seventh

Martinsville is Hamlin's best track, and he nabbed his first top-10 finish in three races on Sunday. He still stayed in the top 10 almost the entire race, battled a loose car to get the lead for a 30-lap stretch before Johnson wrestled his way to the front. Hamlin was among the fastest on restarts and early in runs, but slid back on worn tires and held on for a sixth-place finish. He remains seventh in the standings.

What he said: "We wished we could have run a little better than what we ran [Sunday]. We just tried a new setup -- trying to see if we could make some big gains for the fall and just didn't have it all figured out. We just were an average car. ... It's not bad [of a finish], but it's not where we're accustomed to."

Tony Stewart

Martinsville finish: seventh

Season standings: third

Stewart has cruised into the top three in the standings with his third top-10 finish in his past four races. Like his teammate Newman, he needed to come back from a lap down for a good finish. His car was just not right and he dropped a lap down late in the race during a long green run. Stewart got the lucky dog and raced into the top 10 with a set of tires -- bolting from 13th to seventh on the two sets of green-white-checkered laps.

What he said: "Unfortunately, we had our worst run of the day the last run of the day. We got behind there and got a lap down, but clawed back to get the lucky dog and rallied back to seventh."

Greg Biffle

Auto Club finish: 13th

Season standings: first

Biffle stayed atop the points lead by cutting a 26th-place start in half despite having an ill-handling car much of the day. He lost a lap but gained it back before losing another one when he thought a rear tire was going flat. He thought he deserved to get the lucky dog earlier, the one claimed by Newman. Biffle's 13th-place finish tied his worst of the season.

What he said: "We had a way better car than where I finished with it. We probably should have been in the top 10. ... It feels good to go on vacation being the point leader. Leaving here on top feels good because this is a tough place for us and we came here and ran respectable."

Bobby Labonte

Martinsville finish: 17th

Season standings: 22nd

Labonte was two laps down but managed his best finish in three races. The one-time Martinsville winner started 16th and bounced between his worst position in the race (25th) and best (ninth) in short span near the halfway point. Labonte remained in the top 15 as one of the race's better green-flag passers until the end when he slid back. The tail-off cost him at least one position in the standings as he dropped to 22nd.

What he said: "We had a good car [Sunday] and the guys did a really nice job in the pits all day long. We just ran out of fuel there near the end and that hurt us. We were running 12th on the lead lap when it happened. We had a solid run all day long. We would have liked to have had a top-10 finish, but we'll learn from our experience."

Jamie McMurray

Martinsville finish: 20th

Season standings: 24th

After finishing a season-high seventh at Bristol, McMurray couldn't repeat the good showing at another short track. At Martinsville, he fell a lap down before the first caution and then dropped a second lap when adjustments failed to help as he had one of the slower cars on green-flag laps. McMurray got inside the top 20 late in the race but slid back in the final laps for a result that cost him two more spots in the standings.

What he said: "Our car wasn't too bad [Sunday], we just had those long green-flag runs and never had a chance to make adjustments on our car. The guys worked hard to make up the laps, we just ran out of time."

Jeff Burton

Martinsville finish: 22nd

Season standings: 15th

Burton appeared to have a top-10 spoiled by electrical issues. He was fifth before losing rear grip and then the car was losing something more crucial at the halfway juncture -- power. Burton came into the pits twice during a caution to fix the electrical problem but tumbled to 25th before coming home with his second-consecutive 22nd-place finish in two weeks. He remains 15th in the standings.

What he said: "It is very frustrating to have another race where we had a competitive car and suffered terrible luck."

Joey Logano

Martinsville finish: 23rd

Season standings: 13th

Logano could not take advantage of his fifth-consecutive top-10 start of the season. After reaching as high as ninth, his car kept getting tighter as the race progressed and lost a lap. Logano chose to stay out on a late caution to regain his lap but instead another long green cost him a second lap when he pitted out of sequence. Though he netted his second bottom-half race finish in two weeks, Logano stayed at 13th in the standings.

What he said: "That was a frustrating day for sure. We never really had the kind of speed we wanted all weekend long, but I thought we could come out of here with a top-15 finish. The car just got tight early and every change that we made that should have loosened it up really made it tighter. ... While I'm not happy with our finish, I'm glad to come out of there still 13th in the point standings."

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