Originally created 11/05/02

Martin docked 25 points for Rockingham violation



CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Mark Martin's championship hopes received a setback Monday when NASCAR penalized his team 25 points for a rules violation at North Carolina Speedway.

Martin finished second in Sunday's race in Rockingham, but the No. 6 Ford failed inspection after ward because the left-front springs did not meet the minimum number of coils.

So Martin was docked 25 championship points, Jack Roush was docked 25 car owner points and crew chief Ben Leslie was fined $5,000.

The penalty drops Martin 112 points behind series leader Tony Stewart with just two races remaining. He had cut the lead to 87 after Sunday's race, in which Stewart struggled to a 14th place finish.

The Roush Racing team did not immediately comment.

This is the second time in his career a points deduction could cost Martin a shot at his first Winston Cup title.

Martin was fined 46 driver points in 1990 for an illegal carburetor spacer found on his Roush Racing Ford after a race at Richmond International Raceway. Martin lost the Winston Cup championship that year to Dale Earnhardt by 26 points.

This is the third time this season the No. 6 Ford has been penalized, but the first time points have been taken away.

Leslie was fined $50,000 after Martin's winning car was too low in post-race inspection following the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in May. He was also fined $1,000 fine for an unapproved window strap at Talladega in October.