Originally created 04/02/00

Mark Martin has knack for rain-delay victories



FORT WORTH, Texas -- Mark Martin knows how to play the NASCAR waiting game.

In similar fashion to his victory three weeks ago in Atlanta, Martin waited out a long rain delay Saturday and finished four car lengths ahead of Roush racing teammate Matt Kenseth to win the Albertson's 300 Busch Grand National race at Texas Motor Speedway.

It was Martin's fourth victory in five Busch starts this season and the 44th of his career. Jack Roush's team has won six of seven Busch races, with Roush's Kenseth and Jeff Burton also winning races this season. Sterling Marlin is the only non-Roush winner this season.

"It was a tough race to win. We had to be smart, had a good setup on the car and got better as we went on," said Martin, a full-time Winston Cup driver and part-time Busch Series competitor.

Martin, who says this is his last season in the Busch series, has won the last two races at Texas and three of the four in the junior series on the 1'-mile oval. Saturday's race started on time at noon CDT but didn't finish until after dark, thanks to a 4'-hour rain delay following the first 19 laps.

Coming out of a caution on lap 160 of the 200-lap event, Kenseth had the lead on Martin. But he held it less than five more times around the track. On lap 165, Kenseth drifted high on the track going into the backstretch, and Martin went underneath and took the lead for good.

"Whenever I see him in the rear view mirror, he's usually going to pass me. I sure would like to win one of these," said Kenseth, who did win the season-opening race in Daytona. Martin skipped that event.

"That car was as perfect as I could get one to drive and I still couldn't beat him," Kenseth added.

Martin averaged 108.130 mph, leading twice for 38 laps. Kenseth led twice for 41.

David Green, who started last in a backup car after a crash in practice on Friday, wound up third, followed by Todd Bodine and Jeff Green, younger brother of David Green.

In Atlanta on March 11, Martin won the Aaron's 312 after a six-hour rain delay.

Kenseth, who is Martin's protege, had his fifth top-five finish of the season. Martin is listed as owner of Kenseth's Winston Cup car.

"Matt was strong, I was surprised to pass him," Martin said. "We were OK at the start of the race, and after the rain delay we didn't run well. With that last set of tires and some adjustments we made, that made the difference."

Kevin Harvick led a race-high 67 laps, but ran out of gas on lap 88. He didn't get back on the lead lap until lap 144 and eventually finished ninth.

Rookie Jason Leffler, who started on the pole, dropped to 18th.

Adam Petty, who on Sunday will become Winston Cup's first fourth-generation racer when he starts the DirecTV 500, was one of four drivers knocked out of the race during a wreck that involved eight cars.

Mike Dillon's car slammed into the outside wall on turn 2, then slid across the track into the inside retaining wall and burst into flames.

"There had to be something between turns 1 and 2, Mike and I wrecked at the same place and the same time," Petty said.

Dillon banged his head and hurt his knee, but said he was fine after being checked by medical personnel at the track.