Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Martin, T-Bird Almost Perfect in Victory at Watkins Glen

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Martin, T-Bird Almost Perfect in Victory at Watkins Glen

Article excerpt

Mark Martin and his Ford Thunderbird were a flawless combination Sunday in a dominating victory in the Budweiser at the Glen NASCAR stock car race in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

"We didn't have any trouble anywhere at all today," Martin said after winning from the pole for the second year in a row on the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course.

The victory was Martin's first of the season and 13th of his Winston Cup career. It came with seeming ease.

Driving for Roush Racing, Martin led 75 of the 90 laps and handily fought off a late challenge from Ernie Irvan, winning the battle of Thunderbirds by 0.88 seconds - about four car-lengths.

"I never gave up," Irvan said. "I kept thinking maybe he would slip or something.

"Any time you can go on a road course and not make any mistakes - and Mark didn't make any today - our hat's off to him."

Dale Earnhardt, the six-time and defending series champion, finished third, and held onto the same 27-point lead he had coming into the 20th of 31 races this season.

Martin was cruising along with a lead hovering near 3 seconds when the fourth full-course caution flag waved on lap 81. Hut Stricklin spun, hit a guard rail and stopped on the track, nearly blocking the exit to turn four.

Stricklin eventually got his engine restarted and drove slowly to the pits, but that yellow flag allowed Irvan to move up to Martin's rear bumper for the restart on lap 85.

When the green flag waved, Irvan tried an inside move and an outside move as the leaders raced into the first turn. The cars nearly touched, but Martin steadily pulled ahead as they reached the long back straightaway.

"I hated to see that last caution because I knew Ernie was going to try everything he could think of to get by me on the restart," Martin said. "That's what happened and we just had to kind of plug him up in turn one. Once we got up and got trucking, we were able to get away from him."

"That last caution," Irvan said, "gave me another shot at Mark and maybe run with him. But it didn't matter. He still outran us."

Martin earned $85,100, including a $22,800 bonus from Unocal for winning from the pole. He averaged 93.752 mph in a race slowed by caution for 12 laps. …

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