Darlington report and notes

MARK MARTIN TAKES ROUND 2 OF IROC DARLINGTON, S.C. -- In Round Two of the True Value Dodge International Race of Champions XIX Series, defending race and Series champion Mark Martin won over a field of 10 other competitors in ...

MARK MARTIN TAKES ROUND 2 OF IROC

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- In Round Two of the True Value Dodge International Race of Champions XIX Series, defending race and Series champion Mark Martin won over a field of 10 other competitors in equally-prepared Dodge Avengers at an average speed of 153.675 mph. NASCAR Winston Cup Series Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Ken Schrader were second and third, respectively.

Martin took the point lead, 33-31, from Dale Earnhardt. Scott Pruett is third with 29. The Series next runs at Talladega Superspeedway on "Super Saturday," April 29. Earnhardt was eliminated in a four-car accident that was started he got together with Steve Millen while trying to pass the defending IMSA Exxon GTS champion coming off turn two.

ROUND TWO, TRUE VALUE DODGE IROC XIX PRE-RACE NOTES

NOTE: In-car cameras for Round Two will be in the cars of Scott Pruett, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin.

NOTE: The race will be televised on ABC at 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 11.

NOTE: Al Unser Jr. will miss today's race due to a sprained ankle sustained when he slipped and fell at his home in Albuquerque, N.M., after returning from the Australian IndyCar round last weekend. Unser will be credited with a 12th place finish.

ROUND TWO, TRUE VALUE DODGE IROC XIX RACE NOTES

RUSTY WALLACE (#5 Purple - 10th) -- Dale (Earnhardt) tried to pass Millen and I guess Millen thought he could bring her down, and there just wasn't enough room for both of them to go through there. It was just one of those deals where they were both trying to go for a hole and they both ran out of room. I just got caught up. They spun and went flying across the race track, and that was it.

STEVE MILLEN (#10 Salmon - 9th) -- (ON THE INCIDENT WITH DALE EARNHARDT.) There wasn't much of a racing line out there. I was running it and Dale was behind me. I wasn't going to hold him up intentionally, but I wasn't just going to pull over either. Once you pull over, the whole train goes past. We touched and we spun; it was racing. I really hoped to get going again just to get in some more laps -- so I wasn't last in points. Darlington is tough. I'm honored that I was selected for IROC. I hope I get to do the series, and race Darlington, again.

DALE EARNHARDT (#1 Evans Orange - 8th) -- I just cut down under him (Steve Millen) and I thought I could get through under him. He switched lanes and we got together. We spun each other out or I spun HIM out, more or less. (On his return to the race.) I just wanted to run a lap and get ahead on the scoring of any other cars that had gone out at that time. (Before accident.) I hadn't gotten all the way to the front. We were just trying to sort things out. The track hasn't got but one-and-a-half grooves yet, and it's a little edgy trying to get under somebody, to get past 'em.

MARK MARTIN (#9 Aqua - 1st) -- I love this place, man. I just want to thank the folks from Dodge, True Value, Goodyear and all the folks that put these cars together. It's a tremendous boost for my confidence the way we've been getting whipped up on by the Chevys at these other race tracks -- then we jump in equal cars and it makes me feel a little better. I had a good race, I hope we can have a good Busch race and then a good race on Sunday. Things are right on schedule. We just need to get our Cup car running a little better. This should help us a lot in the (IROC) series points because we led all those laps and that'll move us up. We're back in the hunt for this thing (Martin won at Darlington in 1994 and went on to win the IROC championship). It's a great series, and I'm just happy to be in it. (On starting toward the back of the field in Round Three on April 29 at Talladega Superspeedway.) It doesn't bother me. We started in the back for every race last year. (On Gordon and Schrader hooking up behind him late in the race) I didn't want them to, but we were looking pretty strong.

HURLEY HAYWOOD (#12 Powder Blue - 6th) -- The car ran good once I knocked the front end a bit. I got into turn one and the throttle hung wide open. I got up into the marbles and figured I better get the car so I could bounce off the wall. I did and got a big "Darlington Stripe." Nothing on the car seemed to be hurt, so I cranked it up and ran a few laps. The car actually handled better and I was able to have some fun. I'll tell you, Darlington is a handful!

JEFF GORDON (#11 Silver - 2nd) -- I could run strong, but once I got up on somebody the car got tight. When you would lose the air off the front, when you got in a close draft, then the car got tight. I knew Kenny (Schrader) was behind me, but I figured if I didn't see him then he wasn't too close. Mark was smart. He got by me early and then went and did his thing. Mark had a strong car. (To Ken Schrader...) I thought you had me! You were in my blind spot! I kept looking up but I figured, 'If I can't see him, he's not there!' That's the first time I've actually had to block my (Hendrick Motorsports) 'teammate!' I figured out here it was fair game.

TOM KENDALL (#7 Lime - 4th) -- I knew that my problems would come on the restart because we road racers don't have much experience in those. I had a problem in turn one and turn two. I coulldn't figure it out right away. It seems my legs are so long that I wasn't getting out of the gas like I needed to -- I couldn't get my leg back far enough. I solved it. I could run the pace that Jeff (Gordon) and Ken Schrader were running. Mark Martin could do what he wanted. Martin is 'bad' here, real 'bad.'

KEN SCHRADER (#3 Mustard - 3rd) -- The race car worked good, but when you'd get right up under somebody you'd lose the air from the front of your car and it'd get a little tight. I had the same problem Jeff had when he'd get to Mark (Martin). You'd lose the air from the front of the car and it didn't want to turn. Basically, it worked good. I tried to get in his (Gordon) blind spot, but he's been around too long for that! (On four-car incident in turn two.) I knew it was gonna happen a couple laps before and that helped! I just didn't know where! I was close enough that I could drive around the top. He (Millen) was just getting turned when I went by.

SCOTT PRUETT (#2 Medium Blue - 5th) -- The biggest problem we had was there was some sort of electrical short in the car. It would run fine and then it would just cut out, intermittently. It was kind of coming and going, so I'd get things going, get caught up, then all of a sudden it would start doing it again and I'd fall back. That happened a couple times. It never did clear up. It did it (misfire) on the parade lap, before the green flag, so I just had to chase it all day. My comfort level actually got a lot better. When you're out there for 60 laps you've got to get a lot better.

STEVE KINSER (#8 Teal - 7th) -- I had a car that didn't seem to be running very good, to me. It was a little ill-handling, but some of it might've been me. You know, you get your mind set here (on the Winston Cup car) and I've not been concentrating much on IROC. It was a combination of everything -- just had a bad run is about all you can say. It just so happens that I probably got me one (car) that was off a little bit and I was off a little bit. That's what I mean when I say it was a combination of things. Relatively they do a pretty good job and it's tough to get 'em all equal. (Looking ahead to Talladega, where he is defending race champion.) Let's hope we can run as good as we did there last year!

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About this article
Series IROC
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Ken Schrader , Al Unser Jr. , Scott Pruett , Steve Millen , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports