Mark Martin - IROC 2005

Mark Martin with the BIG check
Photo © 2005 By Robert McCarty

Mark Martin Finishes Second, Clinches Record-Breaking Fifth Series Championship

HAMPTON, Ga., October 29, 2005 – One driver put an exclamation point on a long and storied career, while the other continued his rise to becoming a racing superstar.

NASCAR drivers swept the top three positions in the Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway Saturday, led by Martin Truex Jr., who won his first series title in his rookie IROC season.

NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Mark Martin clinched a record-breaking fifth series title with his second-place race finish, followed by Matt Kenseth, IRL Indy Car driver Helio Castroneves and World of Outlaws driver Danny Lasoski.

Truex Jr., who is chasing his second consecutive NASCAR Busch Series crown, led 43 of 65 laps of the 100.1-mile race, which saw a two-car crash on the final lap between Scott Pruett and Bobby Hamilton. Pruett, who suffered a sore angle in the crash, was checked and released from the infield care center.

“I am really excited about my first IROC victory,” said Truex Jr., who secured second place in the final points standings with the win. “IROC is one of the things that is just really cool to be a part of. It is something you watch growing up and all the best drivers in the world are in it.”

Martin, who started the race in the 12th and final position, didn’t waste much time making his move to the front of the field, taking over the top spot on Lap 9 and eventually leading 10 laps. He fell short in his attempt to become just the fourth driver to record three victories in the four-race IROC season (Daytona and Richmond), but was satisfied with performance and the milestone.

“IROC has been the highlight of my driving career and I am most proud of this accomplishment,” said Martin, who earned $1 million from series title sponsor, Crown Royal, for the 2005 title. “The most special thing about the IROC Series is the relationships you build along the way. I wouldn’t have had a chance probably to even talk to all these guys if I hadn’t been invited to race IROC. That is the coolest thing about IROC in my mind.”

Kenseth, the 2004 Crown Royal IROC Series titlist, completed a strong season with his third top-four showing, clinching third in the final points standings.

Open-wheel competitors Castroneves and Lasoski registered season-best top- five finishes. For Lasoski, the open-wheel sprint car competitor, it was his fourth top-seven finish of the season.

“I wish they would build five more of these Atlanta’s,” quipped Lasoski.” “Next to Daytona…this is about much fun as you can have racing.”

The bottom half of the top 10 included: two-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais, followed by Buddy Rice (IRL Indy Car), Steve Kinser (World of Outlaws), Max Papis and Bobby Hamilton. Bourdais, Papis and Hamilton each registered strong performances and led a lap.

Bourdais was in contention and ran near the top during the first half of race, holding the third position when the competitor’s yellow flag came out on Lap 40, before falling back fast shortly after the restart.

“We started at the middle of the pack, went to the very back at the start and never really got the help we needed,” said a frustrated Bourdais. “The NASCAR drivers work together to help themselves. When they have a choice between me or Mark Martin or anybody else, they pick the guys from the same series. We (the non-NASCAR drivers) need all the help we can find out there.”


Time of Race: 57 minutes 21 seconds
Average Speed of Race Winner: 104.630 mph
Margin of Victory: .818
Lead Changes: 6 among 3 drivers
Caution Periods: 2* Competition Yellow at Lap 40

Lap Leaders: 1 Castroneves; 2-4 Papis; 6-11 Hamilton; 12-21 Martin; 22-40 Truex Jr.; 41 Bourdais; 42-65 Truex Jr.

Ford Racing: News
October 29, 2005

Hampton, Ga. — Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Ford Taurus in the Nextel Cup Series, clinched a record-setting fifth career International Race of Champions championship today with his second-place finish in the IROC season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Martin, who completed his 11th season of IROC competition, has 13 career victories, which includes his most recent win at Richmond in September. Martin Truex Jr. won the 65-lap, 100.1-mile race by 0.818 seconds ahead of Martin with Matt Kenseth finishing third.



"It was a fun race, a great race, Martin just gave me a driving lesson out there today."


"I think the most special thing, when you're young you don't really realize it, and I never realized it, but it's the relationships that you build along the way. The opportunity that I've had to get to know Emerson Fittipaldi and Martin Brundell, Al Unser Jr., Max Papis and Sébastien Bourdais, and just all of these guys, and the opportunity to go to the driver's meeting and hang out with them for 15 or 20 minutes is a really big deal."


"This year, I don't know how it worked out, but it was even more spectacular than the other years.

”My participation in IROC performance-wise has been magical. It is definitely the source of the greatest pride of my driving career. You don't get invited to race in IROC just every year, so you have to really earn your way in just to get a chance to compete.

When I was younger it was such a thrill to be invited. The first time I was invited was 1990, and I was just elated to be invited and have the opportunity. Over a period of time, if I look at the numbers, I think we finished fourth the first year we were involved, third the second time that we were involved, and the next nine times that we were invited we either won the championship or finished second.

”The numbers are incredible, but putting those aside the thing that I think that is most important to me today, where I am in my career, is I've finally matured enough to figure out that the coolest thing about IROC is the opportunity that I've had to sit in the driver's meeting with such great drivers from all over the world. For example, Martin Brundell, Emerson Fittipaldi, great driver like Al Unser Jr., Max Papis, Castroneves, Sébastien Bourdais, all of these guys I wouldn't have ever had a chance to even talk to if I hadn't been invited to race IROC. That is the coolest thing about IROC racing. The performance part of it has always blinded me because of the competitiveness of it. The thing that I will always remember as long as I live is the opportunity when I see one of those guys on TV, I'll say, 'Man, I know guy and he's pretty cool.'"


"No, Martin gave me a driving lesson today. He gave us a spanking big time. I congratulate Martin; he is a true champion and all of the success that he's had on the race track he's earned. He's done it the old-school way. He's gone out there and he hasn't robbed anybody or done it in a rough fashion, he's just gone out there and really been spectacular. Today, nobody could run with him, although I was trying to get at least close to him at the end so that the fans would get excited, but then the caution came out."


"That doesn't surprise me. You could rephrase that question and say, 'Do I think that I should have beat out Dale Earnhardt?' Then I would shrink to that question. I understand your question on one hand, and on the other hand I would shrink away from saying that I think I should have been voted over Dale Earnhardt.

”It's just like Cup racing, I'm not bitter about what I haven't done, I'm just damn glad that I did have the success that I have had. But, you pretty much knew that. I'm not totally shocked. Maybe down the road, 20 to 30 years from now, maybe they'll have another one and I'll be in the running, I don't know. All I know is that the greatest pride, the centerpiece of my driving career is the absolute phenomenal numbers from IROC, and I can't explain it. I didn't even TiVo the race; I haven't even seen the Richmond race. I didn't TiVo it because I was starting in the back and it's hard to pass. I never dreamed in a million years that I could win that race, and I've been so busy since that I haven't had the opportunity to watch it, and it was a great race.

”If you were asking me to give myself odds today, I'd say, 'I'm driving against these great guys and it's going to be hard to pass, it's all about drafting.' I'm very proud of running second today. I don't know how I did that. I just can't explain it. It's really been phenomenal. I don't know how I've managed to have so much success. I don't know how it's happened."


"The check usually comes one or two weeks after the last race and it's all there. It's all there, every dollar, it's there. I'm right on the verge of retirement, and in the past I've dispersed that money around quite a bit. I've taken half of the money and dispersed it around."


"That's a great question because it reminds me, and I hope everyone write this: if someone in NASCAR doesn't give Sébastien Bourdais a ride they need their head examined. They're all the real deal, but Sébastien has really impressed me. Helio is such a cool guy and he's really got the hang of this stuff, and it's really neat to race with him. Scott Pruett is a master, and if we every wind up with a road course on this thing, he's the man. He said Thursday after we went out and practiced, I got out of the car and he said, 'You guys are just magical.' I thought, 'What? That's just what I told you after Sears Point or Watkins Glen.' He's quick to give credit, but to be honest with you, he is magic on a road course.

”I don't mean to leave anyone out. It's so cool to be able to race with and talk with Max Papis. These guys really worked hard, and of all the years that I've participated in IROC, these guys this year, Buddy Rice and all of these guys, studied harder and worked hard at it than any of the other guys and they've all done better than the total class of any other year. I've participated 11 times, and they've really all been special."


"I'm way too dumb to be able to answer that question. You know how I'll answer that: I know what I'm talking about. I know what I'm talking about. I knew what I was talking about Matt Kenseth. I know what I'm talking about about Joey Logano, and I know what I'm talking about, about Sébastien Bourdais. I don't know. Ask me what springs are in my car for tomorrow, or shocks or sway bar or weight distribution. I can tell you all that, but I'm not very analytical about that stuff."

"I think we were invited to IROC because we finished fourth in the point standings; I think that's why. I certainly wasn't invited a few other years when I wished I was and thought I might've, should've been, but you have to earn your way in by doing spectacular on the race track. But the point is, yes, this is a very special year. I went into this one knowing that there was a chance that this would be the last time I was invited based on not knowing how I would end up in the final Cup standings in '05. I knew I was tied for the most wins, and I knew I was tied for the most championships, and I knew that this could be an opportunity to set myself apart. I was up on the wheel like every other year, but this was magical. To have the finishes that I've had and to get the win at Daytona was really special. Daytona, obviously, has not been kind to me at all. I think we may have won twice in an IROC car at Daytona. That was a great way to start it off, and the last time I was invited to IROC, the year before last, Kurt Busch just put a whipping on me. We finished second, which is great, but it was like I could not beat Kurt. Every time we went out on the race track he was positioned one in front of me. No matter where I finished he was the next car ahead of me. It's been a special year for me, especially IROC and the fans with the way that they've embraced the Salute Tour, the performance of the Cup car and the relationships.

”I've gotten more mature finally and realized that one of the most important things as you go through life is relationships. One of the things that scared me the most in February about moving on from Cup racing was not seeing your faces. I didn't think about the racing part of it, or not going back to a certain race track. I though about, 'Oh wow, that's going to be weird.' I guess I'm a slow bloomer or something because it's taken a long time for me to realize that. Those kinds of things are important to me today."


"These young guys, the best young drivers are the ones that respect the guys that were there before them. They're the ones that are the easiest to like. Of course, he incredibly popular because he's always respected the ones that were there before him, and it's really neat, the respect that he and some of the other drivers have relayed or have given me. It's something that I feel like I gave when I came to NASCAR racing and I really, really do respect those guys. The guys that I like the most are the guys that can drive like nobody's business that are humble and look up to the people who did it before they did."


"I don't know what to say about that. I think that's great. I have as much respect for him as he does for me, but to see it cross over is really neat. I think he has more respect now than he might have had before racing IROC because he's been able to get to know us and race us on the race track. But, we're all fans. I know those guys from TV, and they know me from TV, but the chance to race against each other, to hang out at practice and talk about lessons and little things that go on the race track is all good. It's all good sportsmanship. Everybody goes out there and they race hard and they figure the best man win. It's really a good atmosphere today in this series."


"I don't know. I think Sunday evening at about five o'clock in Kansas I was pretty satisfied. It's just icing. Every success is icing, and the older I get every time I have a success is even more special because I know that the time is so limited. I think the biggest thing is that I take what I can get. I work really hard and I have for 30 years. Racing has been primary in my life for 30 years, and it's nice to still rake in a trophy here and there."


"It does because 2005 has been the highlight of my career without question with the All-Star win and the IROC win at Daytona right out of the box, two Busch wins the first two Busch races that I ran. The All-Star win was absolutely incredible. I felt so good and it was so exciting. The win at Richmond in the IROC car, this championship, and the Kansas win, it's just all really good stuff.

”Put that aside and let's talk about the time and the committeemen I made to the 'Salute to You.' That time that I spent with my fans at our dealership in Arkansas, that whole weekend was the most special time that I've ever spent with fans because I didn't come in and sign autographs and leave. I was there all day for two days and we had fun. We hung out, I looked at their pictures, which aren't the same pictures as mine. I saw their stuff and they'll tell me about what it was and when they were there and what happened. That was golden, and that is going to a yearly thing that we're going to have in Batesville. The way that the fans, my fans especially, have embraced me this year because we thought it was going to be the last year until six weeks ago has just been absolutely phenomenal. It's been so heartwarming all the way through on the other side, away from the racing performance side. The way my team has supported me this year has been absolutely unbelievable. I can't understand why I'm so lucky to have people like Pat Tryson and Todd Zeigler and Mike Janow and all of the guys that work on my 6 car. What I've done to deserve their commitment I'll never understand. I don't understand it, and all I know is that I'm a lucky man. Yeah, no other year, to me, compares to this year."


"I'm invited and I haven't ever turned one down yet. I'm not making the announcement today because I really want to think about 2006 later, but obviously, I'm very grateful to Crown Royal and IROC."


"There are two ways to look at 2006 through my eyes. One is, I have no idea how I can perform in 2006 like 2005, and it scares me because I didn't want to go out that way. So, how I'm dealing with that is I'm not dealing with it. I'm going to work on that when the banquet is over with, but I can't deal with that right now because I've thrown every ounce of myself at 2005, and I don't know how I can do that again. I can't carry the load of knowing that I'm going to do that again and finish this one out, so I'm going to have to address that after the banquet and we'll go to work on it. Obviously, we have a great race team and I'm very committed in trying to keep that together for '06, and then for '07 for Todd [Kluever] because we have to give Todd the opportunity to show his potential. This truck he's driven this year, he hasn't had the opportunity to realize his potential. It hasn't been as good as it needs to be and we can't let him step into the 6 car and not have a very potent team. I'm committed that one of the things that I'll work the hardest on for the next 16 months is making sure Todd has as good a team as possible, as good of a team as I've had so that he can get in there and learn the things that he needs to learn and realize his potential."

Joe Mahoney - Associated Press

Martin Edges out Busch; All but Clinches Record Fifth IROC Title
Martin took the lead on the final lap and held off Kurt Busch by inches to wrap up IROC title

RICHMOND, VA. – Mark Martin will need to only start the season finale at Atlanta to bring home his record fifth IROC title. Martin’s record extending 13th win the International Race of Champions Series, was a close one that saw Martin take the lead on the final lap of the 90-lap event and hold it by literally inches to best Roush teammate Kurt Busch at the line in one of the closest finishes in IROC history. With the victory, Martin all but wrapped up what will be his fifth IROC title.

“The IROC championships are something that has meant more to me than just about anything in my racing career,” said Martin. “It’s something that I’m very proud of, because look at the people that I had to beat. I had to beat Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt and now Kurt Busch. It’s just one of those things that I’m very proud of.

“On the restart I was faced with nothing but ‘go,’ explained Martin. “That last lap I got a good run off of Turn two. Kurt Busch is just an awesome guy to race with. If the start-finish line had been a foot further down, he’d have gotten me. That was really cool.”

Busch, who started the night on the outside of Row Two, assumed the top spot following a restart on Lap 3 and then proceeded to lead 85 of the 90 laps (67.5 miles) on the ¾-mile D-shaped oval. Martin started the race deal last based on his first place in the point standings going in. He wasted little time moving up through the field. Busch dominated the race, leading 85 of 90 laps, but Martin found himself in second place behind Busch when the field went green after a caution on lap 62. Busch initially pulled away, but Martin was able to eventually reel him back him, pulling up beside him for the pass on lap 85. Initially, Martin was unable to pass Busch on the high side but three late caution and restarts gave Martin all the opportunity he needed.

On the final restart with just two laps to go, Martin was able to pull up high on Busch and just get his car’s nose in front of Busch’s. Martin was able to stay just in front of the reigning Nextel Cup Champion and collect his 13th IROC victory and his second of the season. Martin led just three laps of the event, but his No. 6 car was in front when it counted. Roush’s Matt Kenseth rebounded from an early accident to finish third.

“I don’t’ know that I could have ever cleared Kurt from the top groove, but I knew when we restarted with just two to go that I could at least stay beside him and not lose position. It put me in a position to just go for it and that’s what I did. I was just fortunate to be able to hang on when I needed to.”

The IROC Series will conclude on Oct. 29 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Martin will need to simply start the contest to take home the record fifth title.

Roush Racing is a subsidiary of Livonia , Mich. , based Roush Industries that operates ten motorsports teams; five in NASCAR Nextel Cup with drivers Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards; three in the Busch Series with Martin, Kenseth and Edwards, and two in the Craftsman Truck Series with drivers Ricky Craven and Todd Kluever.

Dean Hoffmeyer - Associated Press

Martin nips Busch for IROC victory
By Mike Harris
AP Motorsports Writer
September 8, 2005

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- A third restart worked for Mark Martin, and he edged out Kurt Busch to win the International Race of Champions event Thursday night at Richmond International Raceway.

Busch, the reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion and a teammate to Martin in that series, appeared on the way to an easy victory in the 90-lap race. He took the lead on the third lap on the three-quarter-mile oval and stayed out front nearly to the end.

But it was Martin, a four-time IROC champion, who wound up beating Busch in a two-lap shootout after the last of six caution flags in the race. Martin won by just 0.021-seconds -- less than two feet -- in the race for identically prepared IROC Pontiacs.

``I knew on the last restart I had to get going,'' Martin said. ``I got a great jump. I knew I was ahead a little bit coming off (turn) four, then he got to rubbing me a little bit and I could feel the wind got him and he started to get the momentum. The finish line got there just in time.''

Martin, who had moved into second place by passing two-time Indianapolis 500 winner and IRL star Helio Castroneves on a restart on lap 60, acknowledged he would not have had a chance to catch the leader if it had not been for three caution flags in the final five laps.

Caution laps don't count in the four-race all-star series, and that gave Martin three shots at Busch.

``I hate restarts,'' Martin said. ``I hate cautions with a passion and I despise double-file restarts, too. But all of that won it for me tonight.

``It sure made for a great show. I knew it was going to be incredibly hard to beat Kurt.''

On the first restart on lap 86, after Castroneves and Busch Series champion Martin Truex Jr. crashed and brought out a caution, the two leaders stayed side-by-side until World of Outlaws sprint car champion Steve Kinser spun and brought out a yellow.

Martin managed to get past Busch on the next restart, again on green-flag lap 86, taking a momentary lead before Busch charged past and began to pull away.

But Truex and reigning Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais bumped. The contact sent Bourdais spinning into a wall and bringing out the final caution on lap 88, setting up the two-lap showdown.

``It's something I'll remember forever, racing Mark Martin like that,'' a smiling Busch said. ``I thought I had the preferred line, on the inside, but it was just one of those great battles. The restarts kept adding up. I didn't want to hit him, didn't want to crash him.

``I thought I had him. I guess the outside line was the difference. I knew he'd be there. It was just a fun race.''

Martin, who came into the race leading Bourdais by 10 points, now has a 27-point edge over new runner-up Busch and can wrap up his record fifth IROC title simply by starting the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Oct. 29.

``No matter what anybody thinks, the highlight of my racing career has been running IROC and I was thinking about this championship even before Daytona,'' Martin said, alluding to the series opener in February. ``This means the world to me.''

Matt Kenseth, another Roush driver, finished third, followed by IRL star Buddy Rice, Truex and sports car champion Scott Pruett.

Martin also said it appears he will be back in Jack Roush's No. 6 Ford next year. Martin had hoped to leave the series, but Roush lobbied him to stay for a year because Jamie McMurray, hired to drive in 2007, has been unable to get out of the final year of his contract with Chip Ganassi.

Martin Takes Richmond Win

RICHMOND, Va., (September 8, 2005) - Kurt Busch dominated Round Three of the Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) at Richmond International Raceway on Thursday night, but it was Mark Martin – aided by three cautions in the final five laps – that provided him with enough to edge out Busch in one of the closest finishes in the series’ 115-race history.

On a restart with two laps remaining, Busch, the 2003 IROC titlist, tried valiantly to hold his Roush Racing teammate, before Martin coaxed the nose of his IROC car through the start/finish line a mere .021 seconds ahead of him.

Martin’s series’ best 13th-career victory clinches the 2005 series points title when he starts the last race of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway on October 29, giving him a record-breaking fifth IROC Series crown and the $1 million first-place purse.

“On the restart I was faced with nothing but ‘go,’ explained Martin. “That last lap I got a good run off of Turn 2. Kurt Busch is just an awesome guy to race with. If the start-finish line had been a foot further down, he’d have gotten me. That was really cool.”

Busch, who started the night on the outside of Row Two, assumed the top spot following a restart on Lap 3 and then proceeded to lead 85 of the 90 laps (67.5 miles) on the 3/4 mile D-shaped oval.

“It’s something I’ll remember forever, racing Mark Martin for the IROC win,” said Busch. “It was one of those great battles, where I knew if I couldn’t hit him, knew I couldn’t touch him, and I wanted to race him clean.”

Matt Kenseth, who started in the eighth position and was in the middle of the pack for much of the race, made a late charge to finish third. IRL IndyCar driver Buddy Rice turned in a strong performance and claimed fourth, followed by NASCAR Busch Series driver Martin Truex Jr.

“It was a good race, starting that far back (ninth), and to come up, that was good,” said Rice. “I was just drivin’ it – it was a good time for sure.”

Pole-sitter Scott Pruett rebounded from on track incidents in the first two races registering a solid sixth, followed by World of Outlaws drivers Danny Lasoski (seventh) and Steve Kinser (eighth). Rounding out positions nine through 12 were: Max Papis, Sebastien Bourdais, Helio Castroneves, and Bobby Hamilton.


Time of Race: 1 Hour 5 minutes 46 seconds
Average Speed of Race Winner: 61.588 mph
Margin of Victory: ..021
Lead Changes: 3
Caution Periods: 5

Lap Leaders: 1-2 Kinser, 3-85 Busch, 86 Martin, 87-88 Busch, 89-90 Martin

Congratulations Mark !

Martin has 13 career IROC wins, breaking a tie with Al Unser, Jr. and Dale Earnhardt.

Driver Mark Martin celebrates his win in the Crown Royal International Race of Champions at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., on Friday, Feb. 18, 2005. - (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Martin Rocks International Champs
February 19, 2005


Daytona Beach, Fla. — In another grand step for a grand champion, Mark Martin set a record with his 12th International Race of Champions victory as IROC XXIX opened its four-race 2005 run Friday evening at Daytona International Speedway. Martin, four-time champion of International Race of Champions, broke a tie for individual race wins in the series among himself, Dale Earnhardt and Al Unser Jr., who won 11 times each.

Martin also took the immediate lead as he moves toward a possible fifth IROC championship, which also would break a record. Earnhardt also won four IROCs, the last in 2000, the year before his death.

"I've been real fortunate," said Martin, who has 34 Cup race victories with Ford and Jack Roush. "I have said a lot of times I have lost a lot more races than I have won. Rusty Wallace has 50-some wins. Dale Earnhardt had 70-some wins, Darrell Waltrip's 80-something I believe it is, Jeff Gordon phenomenally at such an early age, these guys are pretty awesome."

This from a man who also holds the all-time Busch Series record for victories with 46 and has finished second in the Cup season standings four times.

Martin raced like a champion in the dramatic engine of Friday night's 40-lap run, fighting his way three-wide between Danny Lasoski and Matt Kenseth on the race's final restart (Lap 37), then holding off young charger Martin Truex at the finish line. Truex, in IROC as Busch champion, made his move too late, although he believed he might have caught Martin with a few more yards to go.

“The king of IROC won the race, and I’ll finish second to him any time he wants,” Truex said.

As frequently happens in these events, one driver leads the first three-quarters of the race, and this time it was Kenseth, Martin's teammate with Roush and 2003 Cup champion. Kenseth led 31 laps and finished fourth, although the bonus for leading the most laps boosted his points total to second, behind Martin.

One difference this time was the brutal competition behind the leader, with much rooting and bump-drafting among the drivers. A reason for that was that the cars were able to hold to the low line almost indefinitely, making the leader difficult to pass.

That game broke up after the caution on Lap 36, triggered when Steve Kinser and Scott Pruett collided, setting off a five-car crash on the backstretch. Martin, second on the restart, moved on leader Kenseth on the restart, with Lasoski making it three-wide to the inside. The three bumped together into Turn 3 before Lasoski was forced to yield and Martin broke away.

Associated Press Photo

Martin sets IROC record with season-opening win
By Mark Long
AP Sports Writer
February 18, 2005

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Mark Martin became the winningest driver in IROC history, moving past the late Dale Earnhardt and Al Unser Jr. by taking the season-opening race Friday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Martin earned his 12th International Race of Champions victory by passing fellow NASCAR Nextel Cup star Matt Kenseth on a restart with four laps remaining. Then Martin held off Martin Truex Jr. over the final laps and beat him to the finish line by a half-car length.

``The king of IROC won the race, and I'll finish second to him anytime,'' said Truex, the NASCAR Busch series champion making his IROC debut.

Bobby Hamilton, NASCAR's truck series champion, was third. Kenseth ended up fourth after leading 31 of the first 36 laps in the 40-lap event.

Kenseth was in front when the race was halted for about 10 minutes after a multi-car accident that included IndyCar star Helio Castroneves, 19-time World of Outlaws champion Steve Kinser, Grand American Road Racing driver Scott Pruett and Champ Car's Sebastien Bourdais.

Martin started the melee when he ran into the back of Kenseth, causing the 2003 Cup champion to slow up and sparking a series of crashes.

Kinser ran into Pruett, who then spun into the wall and took Bourdais with him. Castroneves, second to Kenseth for much of the race, also was caught up in the mess.

Kenseth, the defending IROC champion, looked primed to win his third consecutive race. But World of Outlaws driver Danny Lasoski bumped him on the restart, forced him to wiggle and allowed Martin to drive by on the outside.

Martin held on from there to get the record.

``I thought about that on that restart. That's pretty special,'' Martin said. ``If you race enough and you run good enough and you try hard enough, your day will come. It seems like I have bad luck all the time, but we didn't tonight.''

Now, one of NASCAR's most notable figures has a chance to make more history. He is tied with Earnhardt as the series' only four-time champion. He's in a perfect position to make it five after winning the opener.

There are three races remaining: at Texas on April 15, Richmond on Sept. 8 and Atlanta on Oct. 29.

It would be a perfect send-off for Martin, retiring from full-time competition after this season.

``I had a sad, sinking feeling before the race started that this might soon be coming to an end for me,'' he said. ``Time is limited in getting invited back to the series. ... This experience probably means as much or more to me than anything I have ever done.''

Instead, he just made it a lot more special.

Martin edges Truex Jr. to win IROC series race
By Bruce Martin
SportsTicker Contributing Editor
February 18, 2005

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Ticker) NASCAR Nextel Cup Series veteran Mark Martin became the International Race of Champions (IROC) series all-time victory leader he held off a charging Martin Truex Jr. to win Friday night's race at Daytona International Speedway.

It was Martin's 12th career victory in IROC, breaking a tie with the late Dale Earnhardt.

"Man, it was wild," Martin said. "I started feeling some stuff coming off that corner. I thought Matt Kenseth and (Danny) Lasoski were against me. I thought about being the victory leader on that restart there. It's very special. I didn't know if I would beat Matt Kenseth. It seems that I've had bad luck all the time but tonight we had good luck."

In a week where "bump drafting" has re-entered the sporting vocabulary, Friday's race finished with "slam-drafting" decimating the 12-car field with four laps remaining.

Sports car driver Scott Pruett went low on the backstretch to protect his spot and that forced World of Outlaws driver Danny Lasoski to drop to the apron.

The contact between the two cars was minor until World of Outlaws driver Steve Kinser ran into the back of Pruett's car, triggering a crash that also involved defending Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch and Helio Castroneves of the Indy Racing League.

There were seven cars left when the green flag waved with four laps to go. Kenseth was the leader and was hoping to maintain his advantage before Martin made his move.

As the two came to the tri-oval, Martin was in the middle but Lasoski moved down from the outside to force Kenseth to the inside. The cars bounced off each other but kept going without losing control.

Kenseth, who led 20 of the first 25 laps and a 33-of-40 overall, dropped to fourth with Martin leading last year's Busch Series champion Truex for the final three laps.

"That wasn't a move for the lead, that was a move for me to keep from losing a whole bunch of spots," Martin said. "I got a shot from behind and was able to move from behind him."

Bobby Hamilton Jr. of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series was third, followed by Kenseth, Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice and Sports Car driver Max Papis.

"It seemed like if you got out of line, you went to the back," Truex said. "It was a lot of fun and those guys got pretty crazy there. Bobby Hamilton was trying to back me up and we were doing the same thing for the last three laps.

"The king of IROC won the race and I'll finish second to him any time."

Truex emerged from deep in the pack to finish second and explained the difficulty of passing the leader when the driver in front hugs the low line.

"It's not like a two-lane road, it's like New York City traffic at 180," Truex said. "You are always getting cut off. If the leader didn't run the bottom, you could pass all day long. That's the way it is, it's hard to pass but I was 12th with 15 to go and finished second, so it wasn't too bad."

Martin was emotional when he spoke of the importance of becoming the career victory leader in IROC.

"Tonight confirms those statements," Martin said. "I had a sad, sinking feeling before this race tonight that this might be coming to an end for me. I didn't think that much about making history tonight. I've been so fortunate and have so many to thank. This experience means as much to me as anything I've ever done."

There have been Formula One World champions that have raced in IROC, along with American racing legends such as A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, the Unsers and the Earnhardts.

None of them have ever won more races in IROC than Martin.

"It's incredible," Martin said before a long pause. "I've had to think long and hard to take the invitation in 2003 because my record was so good in IROC and I was afraid to come back and not be able to continue and Kurt Busch beat me. But I did finish second. In eight years, I've been first and second. That's a great way to end it. Then, they invited me again this year and I had to think about it again.

"Maybe if I do flop this year, people will focus on all the good things that have happened to me."

Martin refuses, however, to call himself a great race driver. He is humble to a fault, seemingly obsessed that he is going to fail.

Is he ever going to admit that he is a great race driver, in this his final season of Nextel Cup competition?

"That's probably not going to happen," Martin said. "I've been real successful. If you look at my record, it looks nice. I'm real proud of it. I am pretty humble and I've taken a beating many times on the race track. I've lost a lot more races than I've won for various reasons. I don't if you are going to get me to stand around with my chest out.

"These guys are pretty awesome and on my good days, I've been able to beat them."

Daytona round one race notes
Racing series - IROC News channel
Date 2005-02-19


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., February 18, 2005 -- Mark Martin's bid for a record-breaking fifth Crown Royal International Race of Champions (IROC) got off to a great start in the series-opener at Daytona International Speedway on Friday night. Martin passed defending IROC champion Matt Kenseth on a restart with four laps to go to claim the checkered flag and became the winningest driver in the series history with 12 victories, eclipsing his tie with the late Dale Earnhardt and Al Unser Jr.

Martin Truex Jr., the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series champion, finished second, followed by NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series titlist Bobby Hamilton. Kenseth and reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice rounded out the top five, while pole-sitter Sebastien Bourdais of the Champ Car World Series was caught in a wreck on lap 36 and finished last in the 12-car field.

The Crown Royal IROC Series is an invitational racing series that matches 12 drivers from different disciplines of auto racing in equally prepared cars to determine a champion of champions. Daytona was the first of four 100-mile races with points awarded for finishing positions, with the series champion earning $1 million. Martin, the 22-year NASCAR veteran, who announced in October that this season would be his last year racing in Nextel Cup, reflected on the importance of competing in the Crown Royal IROC series after the win.

"I had a sad, sinking feeling before the race tonight that this might be soon coming to an end for me," he said. "This experience means as much or more to me than anything else I've done. I was so excited when I pulled into victory lane that I wanted to do a back flip like Carl Edwards does but I'm just too old.

"I think this (IROC) series is incredibly important to the drivers. And if you do good here, then I think your stock goes up for wherever you take that trophy home."

Starting from the 10th position, Kenseth took the lead on lap 6 and held it for the next 31 of the 40-lap race with IndyCar Series driver, Helio Castroneves on his bumper throughout. With four laps to go, Martin, in third, made a move below Castroneves for second creating a logjam as drivers scrambled to protect positions, resulting in a five-car accident ending the night for Castroneves, Steve Kinser, Scott Pruett, Kurt Busch and Bourdais.

"The king of IROC (Martin) won the race, and I'll finish second to him anytime he wants," said an elated Truex.

Race two of the four-race Crown Royal International Race of Champions will take place at Texas Motor Speedway Friday, April 15.

Daytona post-race press conference
Racing series - IROC News channel
Date 2005-02-19

Mark Martin , driver of the No. 6, winner of the Crown Royal IROC Series race


"I had a sad, sinking feeling before the race started tonight, that this might soon be coming to an end for me. I know that my time is limited on getting invited back to the series. I didn't think that much about making history tonight. I've been so fortunate and I have so many people to thank, especially my wife, Arlene, for sticking with me when I was a Saturday night racer -- through all the tough times. Jack Roush, for getting me noticed so that I could get invited to be a part of this. Because, had I not been invited, I wouldn't have had this experience and it probably means as much or more to me than anything else I've ever done. I've just really been blessed. It seems like nine times out of ten, when I climb in an IROC car, I seem to be driving the fastest car on the track. Heck, I must be lucky in that series or something. It certainly doesn't seem to always play out that way on the (Cup) side. Tonight it was my night to have the good fortune instead of the bad fortune. I've got some great teammates. Kurt Busch is the best teammate on the race track that a guy could ever ask for. Had Kurt not gotten caught up in that wreck, the outcome of this race may have been different. He enabled me to get in position to race for the win and I hated that he got caught up in that thing. I was so excited, and I said this earlier in a meeting, that I was so excited when I pulled into Victory Lane that I wanted to do a back flip like Carl Edwards does -- but I'm just too old. I sure wish I could. If I had my career to do over again, I'd learn how to do that."


"I was pretty concerned. It was wild that I even got the lead and that didn't seem to last very long. We were coming off Turn 4, I knew somebody was against me and I didn't know who because I knew Matt (Kenseth) was on the outside and I didn't think he should be rubbing me, and I got to looking around and here come Danny (Lasoski) up the inside and there really wasn't a ton of room there and it was getting pretty wild coming down toward the start/finish line. Danny is such an incredible driver and has taken to this stuff so well that he had his car under control and Matt is certainly solid as a rock. When you race with drivers that are that good, you are in pretty good hands and you can get pretty wild out there and still come out OK. Cooler than breaking the record tonight, for me, was spending a little time with Max Papis, Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Pruett -- although I know Scott real well from years ago. An opportunity to get to know some of these guys that I watch on television -- now when I see them interviewed at a race I'll know a little bit more about what's going on in their heads and that's more special to me than anything that really happens on the racetrack. As I've learned, the relationships are really the things that seem to really last in my mind."


"That was one of the best races that I remember -- restrictor-plate or Daytona/Talladega kind of races -- and it was due to incredible driving skill coupled with respect. These guys drove with respect. I never felt like we were in danger of having an accident and the accident that did happen was due to a log jam -- it was a chain reaction."


"It's that nine times out of ten, when I run IROC, I run up front and that's what I love about racing. I love IROC racing, but the real, honest reason why is not because I like going around with these other twelve guys -- I like going around and around in front of these eleven other guys and that's kinda cool. It seems like most of the time when I strap into one of those things, I'm in the fastest car out there so it must be the luck of the draw."


"I think this series is incredibly important to the drivers. There are great races and great shows, but for me personally, it's been incredibly important to get a chance to meet and know all these other champions from all parts of the world. If you can do well here, I think your stock goes up no matter where you take that trophy home. Certainly, for Danny Lasoski, I bet his proudest trophy in his case is his IROC trophy."

Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the No. 8, second-place finisher in the Crown Royal IROC race


"It was a lot of fun. The cars were really, really close together and it seemed like if you got out of line you'd just go to the back ‘cause everybody's just lined up. A lot of them guys were racing pretty crazy. It got pretty wild at times, but overall it was a pretty good race, all besides the wreck. I was able to get to second with a few laps to go and almost got beside Mark (Martin) there at the end. The No. 4, Bobby Hamilton, was trying to back me up and get a run on me and I was trying to back up and get a run on Mark and Mark was letting off so we were all kinda doing the same thing for the last three laps and I got beside him at the line just a little too short. The king of IROC won the race and I'll finish second to him any time he wants."


"Yea, another probably 20 feet I might have gotten him, but another 20 feet and I might have been third also. It's hard to say. Second's good."


"It's kinda hard not to. They got so much drag in them. You just get behind a guy and two cars -- you just close up so fast on the guy in front of you and the only way to make the guy in front of you go is to hit him. That's just the way it is and I don't see it changing. It makes it fun, I know that. It's fun to run into the back of people all night."


"It's not like driving on a two-lane road, that's for sure. It's like New York City traffic at 180 mph. You don't have any spotters and you got to use your mirrors and you're always getting cut-off by somebody that don't know you're coming, so it gets pretty crazy. If the leader didn't run the bottom, you could pass all day long. But, obviously, the leader doesn't want to let the second-place guy pass him, so he's going to run the bottom. That's just the way it is. All racing's like that. It's hard to pass, but at the same time I was like twelfth with probably 15 (laps) to go and I finished second, so it can't be too bad."

Daytona post-race quotes
Racing series - IROC News channel
Date 2005-02-19

Kurt Busch, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion

"A few cars just spun out. You can't blame it on one specific driver. It was a wreck waiting to happen. When you have so many champions wanting to get to the front, and you've got Matt leading the race, doing everything he could, just the way the rules are set up. Everybody was hugging the yellow line, the track was so good."

Steve Kinser, World of Outlaws champion

"I couldn't tell what happened. Everybody was trying to go for a hole. Helio got up wide, and everybody came. I don't know happened when it all came down. I shouldn't have been there to start with. I followed Kenseth all the way to the front, then jumped off of him, trying to get the lead and was put clear to the back. I should have been smart enough to stay up front, so it was my fault for getting back there."

Sebastien Bourdais, Champ Car World Series champion

"Scott got turned around, I don't know for what reason. We were starting to bang fenders pretty bad, and I just got turned around by someone and put me into the wall. My car had a huge, huge push and I couldn't do very much. I was just trying to mess around. I tried a few things a few times, it just kind of played against me. After, I just decided to stay behind and try and see if we could take a very good run. I got it, right before the incident, Bobby Hamilton gave me a great push, so I decided to try outside. I was taking the natural draft off everybody, got behind Helio, we got pushed pretty well. Then Scott got turned around."

Scott Pruett, Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series co-champion

Helio Castroneves, IRL IndyCar Series

"Someone got in on the rear, and a demolition derby started. It was a mess. Thank goodness nothing happened. Running in the front, people think it's easy. At least with those guys, it's not. There is no friendship at all out there -- pushing, get the heck out of the way. I was holding second -- I'm not leaving until the last lap. But, it didn't happen. Next time, hopefully, it will get better."

Bobby Hamilton, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion

"It was fun racing against those guys. Danny Lasoski is the coolest guy in the world to race with. I don't care if he is a dirt driver, he needs to be in this kind of racing. He's a blast to race with. I hate that his car got torn up. It was pretty cool that Mark won it, because it might be the last one he ever runs. I had a lot of fun."

Matt Kenseth, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series

"We broke a transmission on the lap 25 restart, and I didn't have any third gear. I knew I was done. I just had to go from second to fourth, lost all that momentum, and then Danny tried to do his best to help me, but he didn't know I only had second gear, so he tried to pass me. Then Mark just got by me because he had all the gears. Before that, we were good. We were fine. I don't think they would have gone around me. Helio got into me pretty hard while we were drafting and I lost the bottom, and that kind of started the mixup. Other than that, we were good. I just needed third gear on a restart."

Max Papis, Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series co-champion

"It was really good at the beginning. I was up to fourth, or something like that. We got like a pin ball. It was weird. My car was kind of banged up then, and after that, it was slow in a straight line. We're not sure exactly why. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, they had a big wreck and lost a lot of cars, but it was still pretty good."

Danny Lasoski, World of Outlaws

"I tried. I had a good run. I came down the back stretch, and I saw someone -- I think it was Bobby Hamilton -- motion me on the outside. I tried a shot around the outside, and it shuffled me all the way to the back. I worked my tail off all the way to the front, and coming down the back stretch I had a run to the front. I had a run on the No. 01, and he just turned left on me and turned me into the infield. I want to apologize to Kurt Busch, I was doing everything I could. I run into the side of him. On the restart, I tried to help Matt go, but I had no idea my front fender was messed up, it was pushing like a truck. I passed Mark Martin down the homestretch here, but I was below the yellow line, so I just lifted and let them go back, because they weren't going to let the pass stand anyway. I had a really good time running these IROC cars. Everybody, all the test drivers -- especially Dave Marcis, Jim Sauter, Jay Sauter -- worked with me endless laps out here. I hope I didn't embarrass them. I'll tell you what. I sure loved running these cars."

Martin sets IROC recrod with season-opening win
By Gary Graves, USA TODAY
February 19, 2005

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Until further notice, Mark Martin is the best driver in the history of the International Race of Champions series. But you didn't hear that from him.

The record books will do the talking for Martin, whose season-opening victory Friday night in the Crown Royal at Daytona International Speedway was his record 12th, passing Dale Earnhardt and Al Unser Jr. He overtook Roush Racing teammate Matt Kenseth on the restart following a chain-reaction wreck on lap 36, then held off Busch Series champion and Craftsman Truck champ Bobby Hamilton after the restart.

"I didn't think much about making history tonight," said the four-time IROC champion, who's retiring from the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series after this season. "I've really been blessed. Every time I step into an IROC car I seem to have the fastest one on the track. Tonight was my night to have good fortune instead of bad."

Kenseth appeared to be headed to a rout after taking the lead on lap six and leading the next 31, surviving some bump-and-run from the Indy Racing League's Helio Castroneves. The Brazilian wasn't alone with that strategy, with the leaders tightly bunched in a single-file draft that spelled trouble.

Martin was close behind but just ahead of the pack when Scott Pruett checked up to avoid hitting Kurt Busch and spun out, collecting five more cars and bringing out the red flag. The restart resulted in a three-wide melee that saw World of Outlaws champion Danny Lasoski drive below the yellow line in attempt to grab the lead.

That was perfect for Martin, who got inside Kenseth and just had to avoid the drama to win. Not that he'll take credit for it.

"That's probably not going to happen," Martin said, laughing. "I've been real fortunate. I'm not sour about the things I haven't accomplished, but at the same time I'm pretty humble. I've said a lot of times I lost more races than I've won. But I doubt you're going to get me standing around with my chest out."

Crown Royal results

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (11) Mark Martin, Nextel Cup, 40

2. (4) Martin Truex Jr., Busch, 40

3. (8) Bobby Hamilton, Craftsman Trucks, 40

4. (10) Matt Kenseth, Nextel Cup, 40

5. (5) Buddy Rice, Indy Car, 40

6. (3) Max Papis, Grand Am, 40

7. (9) Danny Lasoski, Sprint Car, 40

8. (6) Helio Castroneves, Indy Car, accident, 36

9. (2) Kurt Busch, Nextel Cup, accident, 36

10. (7) Scott Pruett, Grand Am, accident, 36

11. (12) Steve Kinser, Sprint Car, accident, 36

12. (1) Sebastien Boudrais, Champ Car, accident, 36


Average Speed: 136.312 mph
Time of Race: 59:13
Margin of Victory: .042 Seconds
Lead Changes: 7 among 5 drivers
Caution Periods: 2 (with Competition Yellow)
Lap Leaders: 1 Busch, 2 Truex Jr, 3 Busch, 4 Hamilton, 5 Busch, 6-36 Kenseth, 37-40 Martin

Martin rocks to record win
IROC legend gets in front of big wreck
By Sean Kernan, Staff Writer
The Daytona Beach News-Journal: SPEED Magazine
Last update: February 19, 2005

DAYTONA BEACH -- There's a reason why Mark Martin is the all-time leading race winner in the International Race of Champions.

He knows how to be in the right place at the right time.

When Martin passed Helio Castroneves for second in Turn 2 on Lap 36 it was almost as if he could sense there was trouble brewing. By making that move, Martin put himself ahead of the trouble that took place just seconds later on the same lap at the end of the backstretch at Daytona International Speedway. That's where a six-car wreck ended the race for five other drivers and set up a restart that allowed Martin to take the lead on Lap 37 and cruise to an IROC record 12th win.

"I was so excited when I pulled into Victory Lane that I wanted to do a backflip like Carl Edwards, but I'm too old,' said the 46-year-old Martin. "I sure wish I could.'

Martin broke a tie for all-time IROC wins with Al Unser Jr. and the late Dale Earnhardt. The Daytona Beach resident is going after his fifth IROC series title. Currently he shares that mark with Earnhardt.

"I thought about that (the race wins record) on the restart there," Martin said. "It's pretty special. . . . Before I started the race I thought about that this may be the last chance I get to race IROC, and I sure would like to break some of those records. We got one of them."

Martin's Roush Racing teammate Matt Kenseth had dominated the race, leading 31 of the first 36 laps. But Unlike past IROC races that featured many lead changes, Kenseth held the point with a low line around the 2.5-mile speedway.

"If the leader didn't run bottom you could pass all day long," said 2004 Busch Series champ Martin Truex Jr., who finished second.

But the bottom was the place to be. Not only did Kenseth run that line, but so did Martin as he held off Truex at the stripe by .042 of a second.

The racing was clean until the six-car wreck on Lap 36 when Castroneves, Kurt Busch, Scott Pruett, Steve Kinser, Sebastien Bourdais and Danny Lasoski tangled going into Turn 3. Martin trailed only Kenseth going into Turn 3 ahead of the mishap that was triggered when the leader checked up. The pileup ended the race for all involved with the exception of Lasoski.

Martin came out the leader on the first lap after a restart that saw Kenseth and Lasoski battle on the low line.

"On the restart I was just doing everything I could to stay next to Matt (Kenseth)," said Martin, who was on the outside. "I could brag it up like I had planned it that way, but all I was trying to do was hang on. . . . What Lasoski did and what Matt did made me be in the right place at the right time on the race track."

Being in the right place at the right time is what helps make Martin so successful in these IROC races.

Old master holds on, sets record
By Shawn A. Akers
St. Petersburg Times
Published February 19, 2005

DAYTONA BEACH - There is no substitute for experience, and that's something Mark Martin has plenty of in the International Race of Champions Series.

A four-time series champion, Martin bided his time, avoided a multicar accident late, took the lead from Roush Racing teammate Matt Kenseth then held off Martin Truex for a victory in the season-opening event Friday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Martin set the all-time IROC victory mark at 12. Martin will retire from the NASCAR Nextel Cup series after this season.

Normally a driver who plays down individual achievements, Martin couldn't hide his excitement Friday.

"This is so special, to get a piece of history like this," Martin said. "I had a sad, sinking feeling before the race started that this might soon be coming to an end for me. My time is limited in getting back to this series. I didn't think about making history tonight, but we did.

"I've been so blessed because nine times out of 10 when I climb into an IROC car, I seem to have the fastest car on the track. I've had a lot of bad fortune at this track, but this was just my night to have the good fortune instead of the bad."

Martin was tied with Dale Earnhardt and Al Unser Jr. for most victories in IROC series history. Martin has won championships in 1994 and '96-98. He and Earnhardt are the only four-time series champions. Kenseth took the lead from Steve Kinser on Lap 6 and led the next 30 laps around the 2.5-mile trioval. All was relatively calm until Lap 37, when Mark Martin and Kurt Busch teamed in the draft to push past Helio Castroneves, who ran second throughout most of the 40-lap race.

Kenseth appeared to slow and Martin hit him from behind, causing several drivers to check up. Kinser's machine got into the back of Scott Pruett, causing Pruett to spin, and the result was a multicar accident that took some of the contenders out of the race, including Busch and Castroneves.

Sebastien Bourdais, Kinser, Castroneves and Pruett were taken to the infield care center and released.

"I've got such a great teammate in Kurt Busch, and I've got to thank him for helping me get to the front," Martin said. "I just hate it that he got caught up in that wreck. Had he not got caught up, then I might not have won the race because he might have."

Participating in his first IROC series race, Truex, the defending Busch series champion, was in the back of the pack for two-thirds of the event. On the final lap, he tried to get past Martin, but Bobby Hamilton, running third, hampered his efforts.

"I got to second with a few laps to go, and that was pretty good because I was running 12th with 15 to go," Truex said. "I almost got beside Mark (Martin) on the last lap and I was trying to get a run on Mark, but Bobby (Hamilton) was trying to back me up. What can you say, the King of IROC won the race, and I'll finish second to him any time he wants."

Hamilton, the defending Craftsman Truck series champion, finished third, followed by Kenseth and Buddy Rice.

The second leg of the IROC series is set for April 15 at Texas Motor Speedway. The other events are at Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 8 and Atlanta Motor Speedway on Oct. 29.

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