Daytona race report

Martin wins True Value IROC 27 opener. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Feb. 14 - Mark Martin, representing the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, captured his 11th career True Value International Race of Champions (IROC) victory Friday in the series' opener at ...

Martin wins True Value IROC 27 opener.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Feb. 14 - Mark Martin, representing the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, captured his 11th career True Value International Race of Champions (IROC) victory Friday in the series' opener at Daytona International Speedway.

Martin, averaging 177. 253 mph, won by a mere .123 seconds over NASCAR Winston Cup teammate Kurt Busch.

Finishing third was World of Outlaws representative, Danny Lasoski, fourth was NASCAR Winston Cup driver, Jimmie Johnson and fifth went to NASCAR Busch champion, Greg Biffle.

Martin led the 40-lap, 100-mile event three times for a total of 21-laps, taking the five-point bonus for leading most laps.

There were six lead changes among four drivers; Johnson claimed three bonus points for leading second most laps (14) and NASCAR Winston Cup driver, Kevin Harvick, finishing seventh, posted two bonus points for leading third most laps (4). World of Outlaws driver Steve Kinser, finishing sixth, led for one lap.

Winner, Mark Martin said, "It was just one of those battles, right down to the end. Had I gotten a little bit further out ahead, then they would the have caught me with such a rate of speed that I wouldn't have been able to hang onto it. It's a great race."

Of his second place finish Busch said, "Lasoski and I were running the last lap and I was trying to get by him. Just like any other person, I didn't have much help from behind because fourth and fifth were running side by side. So, Lasoski and I were duking it out and maybe we should have helped one another to get by Mark Martin. I have to talk with Mark on a daily basis, so I was just trying to get second away from Lasoski."

Lasoski, the highest ranking open-wheel driver said, "I tell you what, I had the time of my life. It was an absolute learning experience. I was here last year and didn't have a clue what we were doing. Today, Kurt (Busch) and Mark Martin were the pros out here. I tried to learn everything I could. I was running second and Kurt was behind me. We were trying to stay with Mark Martin. I got a good run and tried to go by him and Kurt went left and I went right and Mark Martin won the race. It was a good race and I had a great time out there doing it."

The Race-One Daytona victory gives Martin his 11th career IROC win, tying him for most series wins with Al Unser, Jr. and the late Dale Earnhardt; he also ties Earnhardt with four True Value IROC championships and holds a record three consecutive titles.

The only incident of the day came on lap 14 when Martin and IRL IndyCar Series driver Felipe Giaffone bumped coming out of the tri-oval sending Kinser spinning into the infield. Kinser managed to avoid contact and returned to action after being serviced by the True Value IROC crew.

Eighth place, Sam Hornish, Jr., who topped the IRL IndyCar Series contingent said, "It was an exciting race, and I had a lot of fun. I tried to make a pass with about five laps to go and nobody went with me, but that is part of the deal. You have to find somebody to work with. Nobody was helping anybody today. If I had stayed in line where I was, I might have finished better, but you have to try to make a move. It just didn't work out." (About why nobody helped): "Everybody wants to win." NASCAR Truck champion, Mike Bliss finished ninth, Giaffone 10th, IndyCar Series driver, Castroneves 11th and NASCAR Winston Cup driver Ryan Newman 12th .

True Value IROC race one at Daytona will be broadcast on ESPN2, Sunday, Feb. 16 at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

-iroc-

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Series IROC
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Felipe Giaffone , Jimmie Johnson , Danny Lasoski , Steve Kinser , Mike Bliss , Mark Martin , Al Unser , Sam Hornis