Formula One
 Sunday, April 9
Martin makes it eight straight in 2000
Associated Press

  • Good question ... even Martin admitted Victory Lane was the last place he thought he'd be visiting Sunday. But the decision to stay out on the track when the leaders pitted under yellow with 64 laps remaining proved a winning call by crew chief Jimmy Fennig. Once the lead fell into his lap, Martin simply stayed out of trouble -- and there was plenty of it over the final 50 laps -- to claim his second career win at "Martin's-ville.' In a season that had produced no repeat winners in seven races, something told us Rusty wouldn't win despite having the dominate car most of the afternoon.
    In year's past, a fourth-place run wouldn't be cause for celebration inside the 24 team's hauler. But this is 2000 and finishing fourth Sunday ended Jeff Gordon's 12-race streak of finishes outside the top-five. WHAT'S THE POINT
  • Bobby Labonte was spun by Gordon, and banged up by others, but he left Martinsville with his lead intact -- albeit trimmed to 36 points. Jeff Burton's runner-up finish slipped him into the fourth spot ahead of Dale Earnhardt.
    1. Bobby Labonte, 1,246
    2. Mark Martin, 1,210
    3. Ward Burton, 1,159
    4. Jeff Burton, 1,104
    5. Dale Earnhardt, 1,102
  • Friday belonged to the Wallace boys. As for Sunday? Well, they started on the front row. Kenny then crashed on Lap 3 when his throttle stuck heading into Turn 3. Rusty would lead a total of 343 laps, but his chance at victory ended with a bad set of tires. Rusty, however, deserves credit for working his way back to the lead after blowing a tire and losing two laps midway through the race.
  • The best any freshman could do was Matt Kenseth's 21st-place run. Dale Earnhardt Jr., a week after winning, was shoved around all afternoon in finishing 26th, while Scott Pruett limped home a respectable 32nd after more than one brush with Martinsville's walls. Dave Blaney finished 41st, but it was hardly the driver's fault. Someone in the 92 pit has some explaining to do after Blaney's left-rear wheel fell off and sent the Pontiac careening into the wall.
    SO MUCH FOR OLD '28'
  • The last link to Ricky Rudd's days as an owner appeared as though it might take him to Victory Lane. Driving one of his 1999 chassis from his days in the Tide ride, Rudd was running fifth when his No. 28 Ford got tangled up in one of a record 17 incidents on the half-mile. Rudd finished 22nd. By the way, the chassis number just happened to be '28'.
  • "This was a pretty rough race, even for Martinsville" -- Dale Earnhardt, who challenged for the lead at one point but finished ninth.
  • "I felt like I got drop-kicked a few times" -- Rookie Scott Pruett, who spun numerous times and finished 32nd in his first career short-track race.
  • Results

    MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Of all places, Martinsville?

    Mark Martin shocked even himself Sunday, emerging almost unscathed from near-constant hazards brought by a track record-tying 17 cautions and making a late gamble on old tires pay off as he won the Goody's 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

    "We stole one today," he said after his second victory on the tight, .526-mile oval in 29 career starts. His only other victory came in this race in 1992.

    "For my race team to win at Martinsville with me is the biggest victory that they could ever have, because I'm terrible here and I know it," he said.

    Martin, a non-factor as Rusty Wallace dominated the first 436 laps, went ahead for the first time when he stayed on the track during a caution with 64 laps to go. He never let teammate Jeff Burton get close during the run to the finish.

    "Once we got to the lead man, I just ran like a dog, you know, ran like a dog," Martin said after his 32nd career victory. He became the eighth different winner in as many races, a record for the start of a season, and the fourth Ford.

    "I figured Rusty would be coming for sure. I never saw the lead, but I thought he was the man all day and I figured he'd bounce right up through there," he said.

    Instead, Martin pulled away to a victory he shared with many.

    "There's so much to say here," he said in Victory Lane. "Special thanks to Jeff Burton and (Burton's crew chief) Frank Stoddard. We ran so pitiful in practice yesterday that we went to 'em begging to help us and they did."

    Martin said he never considered pitting for tires after going in front.

    "I was hoping to get a top 10 finish, and nobody came and nobody came and nobody came," he said. "Right now this feels like the biggest win of my career."

    Burton, Martin's teammate with Jack Roush Racing, finished second, followed by Michael Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and defending points champion Dale Jarrett.

    It was the first 1-2 finish for Roush drivers since August 1998 at Bristol.

    "Me finishing second today is borderline a felony," said Burton, a native of South Boston, about 60 miles from the track. "We might need to spend a few hours in jail before we go home, because we didn't deserve to finish second."

    Wallace, who led 343 laps, wound up 10th in his 500th career start.

    Defending race champion John Andretti, third when the race went to green for a six-lap dash to the finish, was hit from behind by Waltrip in a pileup in the first turn, wound up on the strip of grass in the turn and finished 14th.

    "There's no excuse for it," said Andretti, who ran to Waltrip's car after the race and appeared to be screaming at him. "It's just real upsetting to get spun our for no reason."

    Waltrip said the mishap "hurt my heart."

    "I would rather finish 15th than have happen what did," he said.

    Mark Martin
    Mark Martin drives under the checkered flag on Sunday to win the Goody's 500.

    The bizarre finish was set up when Jerry Nadeau hit the wall in turns three and four on the 436th lap. Wallace and the rest of the leaders, including No. 2 Dale Earnhardt and No. 3 Ward Burton, pitted for tires, putting Martin in front.

    Wallace, who routinely pulled away from his challengers all day, was 10th after the stops, nowhere near as strong and never got back into contention.

    "I just couldn't believe it when I'm sitting there running 15th and 13th and going, `Man, how in the hell did this happen?"' Wallace said. "But it was all track position. ... With 50 and 60 laps to go, I should never have pitted."

    Wallace led 230 of the first 253 laps when brake heat melted the seal around his right front tire, causing him to nearly crash in turn two before limping around the track and into the pits under a green flag. He got four tires, but was two laps down in 31st position when he got back onto the track.

    He needed only 73 laps to get both of them back, one by blazing through the field and the other thanks to an opportune caution with the leaders in the pits, but he couldn't duplicate the run on fresh tires after Martin went ahead.

    "I thought we had the best car out there all day," said Wallace, who started from the pole. "It was red-hot and it's unfortunate. That's all I can say."

    He just couldn't duplicate the performance on new tires at the end.

    The 17 cautions slowed the race for 112 laps, tying the record set in 1980. The race also featured 14 lead changes among eight drivers, and Martin's victory moved him to just 36 points behind points leader Bobby Labonte, who was 12th.

    Notebook: Petty, Earles remembered at Goody's 500

     It's pretty fitting that Mark Martin takes the checkered flag at Martinsville.
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     Mark Martin talks about his run at Martinsville.
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     Rusty Wallace blows a tire, saves his car, but loses the lead.
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     A stuck throttle means an early exit for Kenny Wallace at Martinsville.
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     He may not have had the fastest car, but Mark Martin found his way to Martinsville's Victory Lane.
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     Jeff Burton says nothing was going his way.
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