Mark Martin knew he had to save gas to have any chance of winning the Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Even then, he was going to need some help.
He got it when leader Brad Keselowski cut a tire on the final lap of Saturday’s race, and Martin sailed past him for the victory. It was the fourth win in six Nationwide races at Las Vegas for Martin.
“I can’t gloat. If Brad hadn’t had a tire problem, he looked like he would win,” Martin said. “All I could do is make sure we didn’t run out of gas.”
The race will most likely be remembered for Danica Patrick’s history-making run and not the last-lap dramatics.
Patrick placed fourth, the best finish for a woman in a national NASCAR race. Sara Christian was fifth at Pittsburgh in 1949.
“We just had a good car, that’s all I can say. That’s what makes a difference in these things,” Patrick said. “I know I haven’t had the best results, especially in NASCAR, but we’re getting them now.”
Patrick, who has 16 races in her NASCAR career, improved on her previous career-best finish of 14th, earned at Daytona last month.
“I don’t know. I don’t think about trying to achieve the highest finish of a female,” she said. “I think about trying to win the race.”
Spanaway’s Derrike Cope finished 25th.
Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas won the Grand Prix of Miami for the second consecutive year in Homestead, Fla., to extend their Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series winning streak to a record five races. NASCAR placed Robby Gordon on probation for an undetermined time after an incident in the garage at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday. Driver Kevin Conway declined to elaborate, but said he filed a police report.