Martin Makes it a Win From the Pole at Talladega

The Craftsman Truck Series’ inaugural race at Talladega Superspeedway delivered all the excitement promised and up until the final lap of competition it was relatively trouble-free. The result sheet shows that Mark Martin won the 94-lap race from the pole but that hardly tells the whole story. After leading the first six laps, the nose of Martin’s truck picked up a piece of debris and he was forced to pit road to keep the engine from overheating.

The unscheduled stop caused Martin to lose a lap to the leaders but he was in position to collect the free pass when the caution flew on Lap 23 for debris on the track. It took Martin most of the rest of the race and a fuel only stop just past halfway to get back to the lead and that was where he stayed until Todd Bodine made his bid for the victory with nine laps to go. Unfortunately for Bodine NASCAR declared that he went below the yellow line to advance his position and the series point leader was black-flagged for a pass through penalty.

A final caution set up an 11-lap sprint to the finish and when a crash broke out on the final lap Martin sailed on to victory and left NASCAR to sort out the rest of the running order. “The race was really going to get interesting there before the crash happened,” said Martin, who has won half of the ten races he’s started this season. “If that wouldn't have happened, it was going to be interesting getting back to the start-finish line. It was just one of those great days. We dodged a bullet early in the race there with overheating and got that cleaned up and were able to make it back.”

Upon much further review it was finally determined that Mike Skinner finished second followed by Ted Musgrave, Bodine and AJ Allmendinger in just his second career start. “It’s an interpretation of a rule and everybody’s going to see it different,” said Bodine. “I saw it as a clean pass but it was a judgment call. It could have been a real bad day in the points, but it tuned out to be a good day.” Bodine gained 30 points on Johnny Benson, who finished tenth. After taking next weekend off Bodine will defend his 121-point advantage with some short track racing at Martinsville Speedway.