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MOTOR RACING

Martin Ends Long Streak

June 07, 2004|From Associated Press

DOVER, Del. — Mark Martin managed to avoid one pileup, got a break when runaway leader Kasey Kahne crashed, and ended a long losing streak in a bizarre NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

"Everything went our way today," said Martin, winless in 72 NASCAR races since 2000. "The car got stronger and stronger."

Finishing second in the MBNA America 400 was Tony Stewart, in contention only because he made a blunder that left him so far behind he missed the 19-car pileup.

Kahne, who somehow got through the melee and seemed well on his way to victory, skidded in oil left on the track by Casey Mears and crashed with 18 laps remaining.

"It was a gift," said Martin, who drove a Ford. "I was running right on the bottom when Kasey got into the oil and we didn't."

Four cars were involved in that crash, which resulted in a red flag that lasted 20 minutes, the second stoppage of a race that lasted 4 hours 47 minutes.

Kahne had just passed teammate Jeremy Mayfield for the lead on the backstretch with 54 laps remaining when the cars of Michael Waltrip and Dave Blaney made contact entering the third turn on the high-banked concrete oval.

With the track virtually blocked, Kahne squeezed through. The rest of the contenders crashed. That caused the first red flag, also 20 minutes in duration.

Mayfield, the pole-sitter, and Jimmie Johnson, running third, were among those who ran into the pileup.

Mayfield slipped off the track and spun his wheels in the mud. Johnson jumped out of his car as flames shot out of the rear.

"They're racing three wide, three or four laps down like a bunch of idiots," Johnson said.

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