Last-place finish not expected of Martin By Shawn A. Akers

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 3, 1998) Mark Martin is used to running up front and standing in Victory Lane after a NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He's done that five times during his career.

Finishing 43rd is about the last thing you'd expect from the driver of the No. 60 Winn-Dixie Ford, but it happened during Saturday's All Pro Bumper to Bumper 300 at CMS.

Martin, who started from the 23rd position, got caught up in a major 10-car accident on lap five of Saturday's 200-lap event, relegating him to a last-place finish. Mike McLaughlin went on to win the event, the first NASCAR Busch Series regular to win a NASCAR Busch Series race at Charlotte since Chad Little did it in 1995.

The early accident was caused when Mark Krogh, in the No. 80 Clearwater Forest Chevrolet, spun out on the backstretch. He collected Martin, and eight others -- Dale Jarrett, Michael Waltrip, Phil Parsons, Tim Fedewa, Joe Bessey, Blaise Alexander, Joe Nemechek and David Green -- all received damage to their cars.

Unfortunately for Martin, his car was damaged enough that he was unable to continue, as was Krogh's and Waltrip's.

"The 80 car started to spin and it was a pretty big traffic jam," Martin said. "Something happened out there and the 80 car got backwards coming off of two and there was just too much traffic out there where I started. It just didn't leave me any option.

"The Winn-Dixie team had a good car for me. My car was working good and we were just working our way through traffic. This is a fast race track and with that many cars close together, I really just didn't have any option once he (Krogh) got turned around there. I hit him head on and then I took two more really hard licks. I'm okay, and we'll go get 'em tomorrow."

Martin is tied with Harry Gant as the all-time winningest driver in the NASCAR Busch Series at Charlotte. Martin swept both races at the 1.5-mile superspeedway in 1996 and also picked up the victory in this year's spring event.

Martin said he took a couple of jolts in the accident, but nothing that would keep him from driving the No. 6 Valvoline/Cummins Ford in Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series UAW-GM Quality 500.

"Everything's OK, and we're looking good for tomorrow," Martin said. "I'm pretty good. I took three hard licks and held on tight. We'll be OK when we get in the Cup car tomorrow."

Source: NASCAR Online