Mark Martin thought he was driving the best car he had ever brought to Daytona Beach, Fla. He won't have the chance to find out, because of an accident in Pepsi 400 practice Friday evening that left his arm in a splint and his car on a wrecker.
The right front tire on Martin's Ford split as he was entering the third turn of the 2.5-mile trioval at Daytona International Speedway during the final "happy hour" practice session before tonight's race.
He received minor injuries to his left wrist and left leg.
"I hit the wall about as hard as I've ever tangled with it," Martin said. "I'm a little bit sore, but I'm going to be OK. We had a fabulous car. This is the best restrictor-plate car I've ever driven."
Officials from Goodyear said it didn't appear there was anything structurally wrong with the tire, but they will check it again today.
Martin's car ran the fastest lap of the afternoon practice at 192.703 mph. That came a day after he qualified third with a speed of 194.376.
The new car will start from the back of the field for the race. Martin said he will take the wheel.
Greg Biffle, a winner twice in the last seven NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events, will start from the pole today in the DieHard 200 at the Milwaukee Mile in West Allis, Wis.
Biffle's record speed of 121.102 mph locked up the sophomore driver's third pole of the year. His lap was four-thousandths of a second quicker than Randy Tolsma's.