Mark Martin Wins At Rockingham


Mark Martin combined fast work on his final pit stop and a superior car to win Sunday's NASCAR Dura-Lube Big Kmart 400 at North Carolina Speedway.

It was the 30th Winston Cup victory for Martin and his second at the 1.017-mile oval as he outgunned Dale Jarrett, who is becoming a perennial runner-up at this track.

Martin used quick pit work on his final pit stop when the field was under caution for the fourth time on lap 357. Jeff Burton held the lead but Martin's pit crew was able to get him out of the pits in first place, where he stayed when the green flag waved with 31 laps remaining.

Four laps later, another caution flag came out when rookie Elliott Sadler crashed on the backstretch. The leaders, content with their tires and setup, stayed on the track until the green flag waved on lap 376.

Martin raced ahead of Jarrett, Burton, Bobby Labonte and Jeremy Mayfield. He was pulling away until the sixth and final caution when Ernie Irvan crashed into the third-turn wall with 13 laps remaining. After a quick cleanup by the safety crew, the field was given the green flag with nine laps left.

Jarrett closed within one car length of Martin's Ford Taurus. However, Martin's car was the class of the field and he pulled away to win by 1.397 seconds.

Labonte was third, followed by Burton and Mayfield. Ford took four of the top five spots, with Labonte's Pontiac Grand Prix preventing a sweep.

"That was an awesome pit stop and setup there at the end," said Martin, who averaged 120.750 miles per hour. "That pit stop and they hit the right setup, they adjusted on the car all day and got it better and better and better. That is really hard to do when you are racing with these guys.

"This race team won this race for me today. I can't thank them enough. That Taurus was on the money there at the end. I let it rip at the end and had to make sure we didn't fall short."

Martin's crew was essential in getting him out of the pits with what turned out to be the pass for the lead.

"This crew is awesome, it's something else, and Mark Martin is the best in the business," said Jimmy Fennig, Martin's crew chief.

Jarrett finished second for the sixth time in the last seven races at Rockingham.

"We fought back. We didn't have the best car today, but I have to say Mark did a great job," Jarrett said. "It seems that we have second-place down pat here at Rockingham."

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