Martin Makes Magic at Daytona International Speedway

Blue Ox couldn't have asked for a better race to kick off their second year of involvement with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series than Friday night's event at Daytona International Speedway. Mark Martin won the hotly contested battle on the 2.5-mile high banks to score his second victory in just four series starts.
Martin started the pole for the series' first race of the season and established the No. 6 Ford as the truck to beat from the outset.

The biggest incident of the race came on Lap 72 when a pile-up in Turn 3 claimed seven trucks and after that the competition really heated up among the frontrunners. With the laps winding down, the drivers traded paint two- and three-wide as they scrambled for position. It appeared that something had to give and that something turned out to be the No. 77 truck driven by Brendan Gaughan. Gaughan collided with David Stremme and that brought out the caution and set up a green/white/checker finish.

The good news for Martin was he was leading at the time. The bad news was he had teammates Todd Bodine and Ted Musgrave lined up right behind him. Knowing that the pair was likely to gang up on him, Martin was determined to defend his position to the end. Before the leader got to Turn 1 and Bodine and Musgrave could even think about drafting their way past, Rick Crawford hit the wall on the front stretch and NASCAR was forced to end the race under caution.
Martin got the victory and was followed by Bodine, Musgrave, Mike Skinner and rookie driver Erik Darnell. "I loved (Truck Series racing) before, but I love it more now," said Martin who led 42 of 102 laps. "You know, I know that I had my hands full. But I sure hadn't conceded the win yet. They were going to have to pry it out of my hands to take it."And pry it away was exactly what Bodine had in mind.

Bodine was going for an unprecedented fourth Truck Series victory in a row but came up one position short of making history. "There is no doubt in my mind that we had him," said Bodine. "I knew at the end, with my teammate behind me, he was a sitting duck. We just needed those laps to run off, we would have been first and second. But should have, would have, could haves. Here we are second and third. We'll take it."

Darnell was competing in his Truck Series debut after winning Roush Racing' recent and highly publicized driver search. Darnell got down a lap early when his truck was running hot but was in position for the free pass during the first caution period. Once he got back on the lead lap, Darnell held his own against the veterans and scored his first career top five finish. "What an awesome run by this whole team here," said Darnell. "This is a great way to start off the season and hopefully it's a sign of things to come. Our biggest thing was to try to learn and go out there and try to learn and get laps and it ended up being so much more than that."