MARTIN SCORES SUPERSPEEDWAY WIN FOR ROUSH IN WINSTON SELECT 500
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Mark Martin scored his first NASCAR Winston Cup superspeedway victory Sunday in the Winston Select 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, defeating dominant Chevrolet drivers Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon in the process.
Martin finished the 500 miles and 188 laps of the 2.66-mile Talladega trioval in two hours, 47 minutes and 43 seconds, an average speed of 178.901 mph. He was .18 seconds ahead of Gordon. There were 24 lead changes among 10 drivers and two caution flags (one for rain) for a total of eight laps.
With Gordon's help, Martin passed Earnhardt coming through the trioval with just two laps remaining. On the last lap, Earnhardt and Morgan Shepherd made contact, Earnhardt spun coming off turn two and limped back to the finish in 21st spot -- the last car on the lead lap.
"I just wrecked," said Earnhardt. "I got loose off of turn two over there and wrecked. Watch the replay and see what happened. I don't know if I could've passed Mark or not, but you can't win the race when you're spinning around on the last lap. What can you do?"
At the end of the race, Earnhardt and Gordon were tied for the NASCAR Winston Cup point lead, at 1,314. Gordon won the $100,000 Winston Select bonus awarded to the point leader in a tiebreaker based on most race victories this season. Martin was nine points behind in third.
NOTE: In a medical update on the drivers injured in the Food World 500k ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Supercar Series race on Saturday, driver Henry Wallace of Prospect, Ky., was transferred from Northeast Regional Medical Center in Anniston to Carraway Methodist Medical Center in Birmingham after x-rays Saturday night revealed a broken bone in his neck. On Sunday morning, Wallace was in the acute intensive care unit at Carraway listed in stable but guarded condition. He is alert and conversing. It is anticipated he will remain at Carraway for several days. As reported Saturday evening, drivers Randal Ritter and John Stradtman were treated and released from the facility in Anniston. WINSTON SELECT 500 RESULTS: 1. Mark Martin, Ford, 188 laps in two hours, 47 minutes and 43 seconds; avg. speed 178.901 mph; margin of victory .18 seconds; two caution flags for eight laps; 24 lead changes among 10 drivers. 2. Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 188; 3. Morgan Shepherd, Ford, 188; 4. Darrell Waltrip, Chevrolet, 188; 5. Bobby Labonte, Chevrolet, 188; 6. Bill Elliott, Ford, 188; 7. Geoff Bodine, Ford, 188; 8. Todd Bodine, Ford, 188; 9. Jimmy Spencer, Ford, 188; 10. Loy Allen, Ford, 188; 11. Ted Musgrave, Ford, 188; 12. Michael Waltrip, Pontiac, 188; 13. Randy LaJoie, Pontiac, 188; 14. Jeremy Mayfield, Ford, 188; 15. Bobby Hamilton, Pontiac, 188; 16. Lake Speed, Ford, 188; 17. Ricky Craven, Chevrolet, 188; 18. Robert Pressley, Chevrolet, 188; 19. Dale Jarrett, Ford, 188; 20. Rusty Wallace, Ford, 188; 21. Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 188; 22. Ricky Rudd, Ford, 187; 23. Mike Wallace, Ford, 187; 24. Hut Stricklin, Ford, 187; 25. Jeff Burton, Ford, 187; 26. Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, 187; 27. Elton Sawyer, Ford, 187; 28. Rick Mast, Ford, 187; 29. Jeff Purvis, Chevrolet, 187; 30. Brett Bodine, Ford, 187; 31. Kyle Petty, Pontiac, 186; 32. Ward Burton, Chevrolet, 186; 33. Davy Jones, Ford, 185; 34. Dave Marcis, Chevrolet, 185; 35. Greg Sacks, Pontiac, 185; 36. Kenny Wallace, Ford, 185; 37. Steve Grissom, Chevrolet, 184; 38. Dick Trickle, Ford, 180; 39. Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet, 145; 40. Ken Schrader, Chevrolet, 137 (engine); 41. John Andretti, Ford, 65 (accident); 42. Derrike Cope, Ford, 64 (accident).
POINT STANDINGS: 1. Earnhardt/Gordon 1,314, 3. Martin 1,305, 4. Marlin 1,252, 5. R Wallace/Musgrave 1,188, 7. Jarrett 1,139, 8. Hamilton 1,101, 9. Shepherd 1,059, 10. D Waltrip 1,057. WINSTON SELECT 500 POST-RACE NOTES
JACK ROUSH (team owner #6 Valvoline Ford) -- (Roush turned in circles a couple times trying to negotiate his way to Victory Lane, which was directly behind his pit. When he got there, he stood patiently behind fans milling around the gate. When a security guard cleared his way, he quipped, "It's been awful hard to get in here!") Mark and Steve and the boys have just been doing a great job this year! The places where we hadn't been particularly good at, we've really excelled this year. I'm hoping we can really make a good run for this championship. This is fantastic! (Steve Hmiel shouted at Roush, "Scream and shout, Jack, we won a superspeedway race!") We've suffered at these superspeedways for so long, I just couldn't believe it was happening. I could not believe it was happening. (With two Ford wins in a row is the "tide" turning?) I think we were lucky today. We burned up our engine we planned to race and we put our qualifying engine in. It was probably a little better, but not as reliable. We just got lucky today. This makes up for the disappointment of Atlanta a lot!
STEVE HMIEL (crew chief #6 Valvoline Ford) -- We've had a lot of trouble on the superspeedways. We've always run good. Jack's got real good motors... We tried to use good strategy today. He (Martin) made his move a little bit earlier than I think they thought he was going to make a move. We knew we had help with the 21 behind us. We were afraid of that 24, but we held on and won and we're tickled to death! The car run good all day. (Hmiel left his pit stall with a few laps left in the race.) I was going to thank the 21 for helping. I knew we had a quicker draft when they were behind us. We were concerned about the 24. I knew my buddy Sterling wouldn't get in the way, but the 24 was awful good. I think he caught Dale a little bit early, but we had heard Dale (Earnhardt) on the radio say we were going to beat him anyway.
MARK MARTIN (#6 Valvoline Ford) -- We just had a fast race car, that's all I can say. It was all because of the guys that work on it -- they built a bad fast race car! Man, it was just great! Right when we caught Dale, when the 24 caught us, we caught him just at the right time to get a big shove. We caught each other at the right time so that he couldn't run by me. He had to line up behind me. Dale was putting a big block on us but we were coming -- we were going one way or the other. We just had a big old head of steam. I've seen him do it a hundred times. It was just perfect. He (Earnhardt) run me a little low in the trioval and made me squirrelly. He's done that before -- you're supposed to do that!
I didn't make an adjustment on the last pit stop that I told them I thought that I wanted. Then I changed my mind. I thought it cost us the race, but as it turned out, it might have cost us the race if we'd have done it. I was gonna take spoiler off of it. With the spoiler off I might've been able to handle Dale by myself. With it on there the way it was, I couldn't beat him. As it was, it was just perfect. We were lucky today! (Roush arrived in Victory Lane, saying, "My hat's off to you, man!")
This was a rocket ship today. I see how they (Chevy teams) do it now. Fast race cars! We had us one today. It made a big difference.
DARRELL WALTRIP (#17 Western Auto Chevrolet) -- I haven't run enough at the front with these guys lately for them to understand that I can run at the front. I saw that a little at Daytona and I saw it a lot today. Nobody wanted to run with me. That's understandable. You've got to earn your respect and I haven't run at the front lately. So, when they see my car they assume I'll get out of their way. I probably do get out of their way more than others do. I'm just trying to reclaim my respect and let those guys know I can run with them anywhere, anytime.
BOBBY LABONTE (#18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) -- We just got shuffled all day -- got shuffled back to the back, worked our way back up to the front and get shuffled back to the back again. We didn't have a FAST race car, but we had a GOOD race car. We survived, made good calls on pit stops and finally got up there. We needed a good top 10 finish today, because last week we finished 10th and we needed another because we haven't been able to do that back-to-back.
MORGAN SHEPHERD (#21 Citgo Ford) -- It was tough, good close racing. I don't like to bump anybody or cause anybody to wreck anytime I'm running. The #15 car (Dick Trickle) was there with us. He was eight laps down. I thought he was going to run with me and help push me by (Earnhardt). The #15 came underneath me and that put us three abreast. When the #15 did that, it made my car real loose and made me get up into Earnhardt.
STERLING MARLIN (#4 Kodak Chevrolet) -- We had a fast car, a car that could have won the race, but the engine went on seven cylinders 10 laps into the race. The team fixed it and we went back out. The #24 (Jeff Gordon) needed some help there at the end. We hooked up and we could run about a half-second faster with me running in front. We ran the leaders down pretty quick. I got Gordon up there, then let them fight for it. I wanted to see a good finish.