On top, Martin ready for break

Associated Press
Mark Martin won't be leading the Nextel Cup standings after skipping next week's race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

HAMPTON, Ga. - Mark Martin will go on spring break as the leader of the Nextel Cup Series standings. He won't be the leader when he comes back.


Martin will skip next week's race at the Bristol Motor Speedway to stick to his part-time schedule at Ginn Racing.

He'll go on vacation - he's planning to go watch a Late Model race at Lake City, Fla. - with an eight-point lead over Jeff Gordon. Jeff Burton is down by 11 points, while Kobalt Tools 500 winner Jimmie Johnson is 28 points back.

The rest of the top 10 include: Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Carl Edwards.

No matter how many times he has been asked to race full-time and compete for a championship, Martin said he's looking forward to missing his first race since the start of the 1988 season.

"The lead will be gone after next week," Martin said. "At least we can say we were leading when we took a break."

Regan Smith will drive the No. 01 U.S. Army car next week at Bristol.

HOMECOMINGS: Reed Sorenson and David Ragan grew up racing Legends cars at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. On Sunday, they returned as Nextel Cup Series drivers.

Sorenson, of nearby Peachtree City, finished ninth, while Ragan, of Unadilla, was 33rd.

"The car was good all day," Sorenson said. "I think we were in the top 10 all day. I think we could have gotten one or two more spots if it had stayed green, but we have these cautions at the end of these races for debris. It's amazing."

Sorenson is in his second year with Chip Ganassi Racing, while Ragan is a rookie replacing Martin at Roush Racing.

"The biggest thing was just to finish today," Ragan said. "I wish we could have been up there in that top 20, but this is something we can build on and go to Bristol next week."


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