Mark Martin's Hard Luck at Daytona

Hard luck continues for Martin at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 1999) While the Roush Racing restrictor-plate program has shown some improvement, Mark Martin's tough luck in the Daytona 500 stayed the same Sunday. Martin, who ...

Hard luck continues for Martin at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 1999) While the Roush Racing restrictor-plate program has shown some improvement, Mark Martin's tough luck in the Daytona 500 stayed the same Sunday.

Martin, who finished 38th in the "Great American Race" last year, had the misfortune of being involved in a 12-car accident on lap 137 of the 200-lap event, relegating him to a 31st-place finish.

"I expected that with restrictor-place racing," Martin said. "We're in better shape than we were last year. Last year we finished 38th, so we've gained a few spots from that. I don't know what caused the wreck, but there were cars everywhere. I slowed down, but kind of got run into from behind. There were no options, there was going to be a wreck and I was going to be in it. We had a fast car and probably could have finished in the top-five."

Martin started the Daytona 500 in ninth place based on his fifth place finish in his Gatorade 125-mile Qualifying race on Thursday. The first half of the race was fairly uneventful, with no caution flags until lap 96. The Valvoline/Cummins Taurus was running well and the crew did not make any adjustments to the car during their first three pit stops.

Martin was running fourth at the halfway point of the race, but fell back to 17th place when he lost the draft around lap 115. A caution on lap 123 brought him in for a four-tire pit stop in 18.08-seconds, but he lost a few positions leaving the pits when he had to swerve into the grass to avoid hitting a tire which rolled across pit road.

Martin was in 12th place when the race resumed on lap 127, but 10 laps later he was involved in the big accident. The crew tried to repair the damage, but the car did not have enough speed for NASCAR to allow him to stay on the track.

The NASCAR Winston Cup series moves on to North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham this weekend for the running of the Dura-Lube/Kmart 400.

Bud Shootout

On Sunday, Feb. 7, Martin started 13th out of 15 cars for the season-opening Bud Shootout at Daytona. The Valvoline/Cummins Taurus was running fifth when Martin made his mandatory two-tire pit stop on lap 10. The 8.6-second stop put him out in the lead and he kept the field in his rear-view mirror for the remaining 15 laps. Martin claimed his first NASCAR Winston Cup victory at Daytona, although it was not a points race.

"That was all homework," Martin said of the victory. "(Crew chief) Jimmy Fennig gave me a great Taurus and Jack Roush gave me the horsepower. We gained three-fourths of what we needed to gain, but the pit crew got me out front and that's what it took. I couldn't have won that race if they hadn't put me out front, but we were fast enough to stay there. It was a pleasure to be part of the Bud Shootout and I hope we're in it again next year."

Gatorade 125-mile Qualifying race Martin started the first Gatorade 125 last Thursday in third place based on his fifth-place qualifying speed. He was running in second place through the halfway point of the race, until slipping out of the draft on lap 25, dropping him back to sixth place.

Running in a different draft, the Valvoline/Cummins Taurus began to have handling problems. Martin hooked up with his Roush teammate, Jeff Burton, and finished the race in fifth place.

International Race of Champions (IROC XXIII -- Round One)

Martin, the defending champion of the series, drew the last-place starting position for last Friday's race. He was able to avoid an accident on lap eight, which eliminated Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Rusty Wallace and Eddie Cheever.

By lap 12, Martin moved into second place and took the lead from Jeff Gordon on lap 17. He held on to the lead until the final lap of the race, when Dale Earnhardt passed him in turn four with drafting help from Bobby Labonte. Martin had to settle for a third-place finish, but is tied for second place in the point standings since he received bonus points for leading the most laps.

"I could see Earnhardt in my mirrors and I knew what he was going to try to do," Martin said. "Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do to stop him. I'm just glad I got a third place finish out of it since he easily could have turned me into the wall when he went around me. I'm tied for second place in points, so I'm in pretty good shape."

The next IROC race will be on April 24 at Talladega Superspeedway. ESPN will televise the Daytona race on Sunday, April 18 at 4:30 p.m. (EDT).

NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division

Martin started his No. 60 Winn-Dixie Taurus in 28th position for Saturday's NAPA Auto Parts 300 after re-qualifying the car on Wednesday. He originally earned a 35th-place spot, but the crew made some improvements to the car and Martin was able to move up in the field.

He moved up quickly early in the race and took the lead on lap 28 after a two-tire pit stop. The crew took out one round of wedge to loosen-up the car and Martin led the race until being passed on lap 32. His luck changed on lap 43, when he was involved in an accident that took him out of the race. Martin was not injured, but the Winn-Dixie Taurus received enough damage to end the day. The accident resulted in a 39th-place finish.

"The car was working good," Martin said. "I got into a deal coming out of turn two where I was three-wide. Whoever was outside of me had to back out, but he didn't. I thought we were drafting together, but I guess we weren't. One minute you're working with somebody and the next minute they'll turn you around. I know everyone was trying to do their best out there, but it's a disappointment for the Winn-Dixie team."

Martin's next NASCAR Busch Series race will be Saturday at North Carolina Speedway, beginning at 1 p.m. (EST).

Source: NASCAR Online

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Eddie Cheever , Jack Roush , Mark Martin