Martin puts finish at Daytona in past

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FONTANA, Calif. - Mark Martin has watched the replays of the final lap of Sunday's Daytona 500. He's looked at Kevin Harvick's seventh-to-first rally on the last lap, and the 10-car crash a quarter- mile short of the finish line.

Driver Mark Martin said it didn't take him long to come to terms with his narrow loss at Sunday's Daytona 500.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Driver Mark Martin said it didn't take him long to come to terms with his narrow loss at Sunday's Daytona 500.

While a caution flag might have given Martin the win because NASCAR is supposed to freeze the running order at the time of the accident, Martin said he quickly accepted his second-place finish without any reservations.

"I didn't give a thought about the controversy that could have been or the fact that the caution could have come out at a time when I was ahead," he said Friday as he prepared for the Auto Club 500 at the California Speedway.

"It took about 10 seconds for me to get my arms around it and I did. That's it."

Martin lost by about three feet in the second-closest finish in Daytona's 49-year history.

This Sunday's race will be part of Martin's part-time schedule with Ginn Racing. He will make selected appearances this year while driving part-time in the Busch and Craftsman Truck series.

"I'm incredibly happy with where I am in my life and so happy with the opportunity these guys have given my to do the racing on my terms and my schedule," Martin said.

Martin also will race at Las Vegas and Atlanta before skipping the race at Bristol, Tenn. - his first break in 622 consecutive races, dating back to the beginning of the 1988 season.

OUT OF BOUNDS: Drivers throughout the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series garage were still talking about last week's three-wide finish at Daytona International Speedway.

While they admitted the finish was good for television, most wondered why NASCAR allowed Johnny Benson to drive below the yellow line - Daytona's out of bounds line - to jump from third to second in the final 200 yards.

Benson wasn't penalized because "if you can see the checkered flag on the last lap, anything goes," according to NASCAR spokesman Owen Kearns.

A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR: Sunoco, the official gasoline of NASCAR, isn't happy that Shell sponsored Harvick's winning car at the Daytona 500.

Sunoco successfully pushed NASCAR to force changes in Harvick's car, uniform and helmet to remove the big Shell logos.

SPOTTER RECOVERS: Bobby Hudson, the spotter for Carl Edwards, suffered a heart attack Thursday. He is resting at a North Carolina hospital. Jason Hedlesky will work with Edwards this week.

Reach Don Coble at don.coble@morris.com.


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