11/19/2006
Storybook Endings for Martin & Bodine

Mark Martin started out the 2006 Craftsman Truck Series season in Victory Lane in Florida and that exactly where he ended it. His first victory came in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway and his sixth came in the season finale at Homestead Miami Speedway. It marked Martin’s final truck start for Roush Racing and wrapped up a campaign that saw him lead the series in laps led despite competing in only 14 of 25 races.

Martin led four different times during the 134-lap event and took the lead for the final time with 22 laps to go after a spirited side-by-side battle with Truck Series regular Brendan Gaughan. Lap after lap the pair dueled with Gaughan taking the high lane and Martin hugging the white line at the bottom of the track. Once Martin finally got the advantage he took off and was home free to the checkers. "This is the way we would have wrote it, if we could have wrote a storybook ending to it,” said Martin. “"Brendan really had that top line working there, and I just had to be real careful. We were in a situation where we didn't have somebody from behind us really pestering us, so we were able to make it fun and exciting for the fans. I had to make sure that I made that pass without making a mistake. “I remember back in January testing, I had no plans at all of running Daytona, and we made the deal that if Scott’s would sponsor us that I'd run Daytona. We got the pole and won the race, so that was a pretty good way to start it off. We've been on a roll all year with that thing. It's just pretty special. It's great people and great equipment and it's been a lot of fun.”

Gaughan’s runner-up finish was his best since he contended for the series champion in 2003 and marked his best effort in four starts at Homestead Miami Speedway. “Our Dodge was the best it’s been all year,” said Gaughan. “We worked our tails off. You definitely know your team is ready to back on top when you can battle Roush Racing and Mark Martin for the victory. I’m so proud of my boys.”

Todd Bodine had a 112-point advantage over Johnny Benson going into Homestead but Benson missed out on any chance to make it interesting when he was collected in a crash with Chase Miller. Benson was saddled with a 26th place finish and ended up trailing Bodine by 127 points when all was said and done. “I think we definitely had a shot at second-place,” said Benson. “The No. 4 spun and instead of staying down on the track -- he rolled up the track. I still don't understand that -- and I hit him when he came back. Our truck wasn't very good, but I think it was good enough to make second. It's been a great season -- nothing to complain about.”

Bodine had his own trouble early in the race when a tire chucked a couple wheel weights and caused a bad vibration in his No. 30 Toyota. Bodine soldiered on, however, and eventually finished 21st, one lap behind the race winner. “This is the first time as a family that we've won something this important,” said the 2006 Craftsman Truck Series champion. “This is so special -- you can't imagine what this means to me or my family. It's for everyone that helped me on my racecars ever. It paid off for you. So, thank you. “We did what we had to do tonight. It's a shame that we had to race that way. At the very end, the tires were vibrating so bad I couldn't go any faster. But, I saw that Johnny (Benson) had problems and I knew that we were going to be all right. We had to do what we did to get the job done, and that's what we did.”