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NOTES

Martin spins out in last laps

February 24, 2007|Martin Henderson | Times Staff Writer

Could Mark Martin have a more bizarre six days?

First, the debacle at Daytona.

Now, the controversy at California.

With only five laps left in the San Bernardino County 200 Craftsman Truck race, the man who almost won the Daytona 500 was run over from behind, spun out on a restart by Ron Hornaday Jr. Hornaday drives a truck owned by Kevin Harvick, the man who beat Martin by a few feet at Daytona as cars crashed behind them.

The spinout sent Martin into the infield grass and out of contention after leading 45 of the 100 laps around the two-mile California Speedway oval.

Mike Skinner, whose slingshot move around Martin and Hornaday at the flag stand gave him the lead as the race went back to yellow, led the final two laps raced under green-flag conditions. Born in nearby Ontario, he became the first California native to win a truck event at the speedway, his 20th career victory in the series.

Skinner's Bill Davis Racing Toyota finished 0.554 of a second ahead of Hornaday's Chevrolet. Jack Sprague, who won last week in Daytona, finished third in a Toyota.

"We had a second-place truck," said Skinner's crew chief, Jeff Hensley. "We have to thank Ron Hornaday for this. Mark Martin had us all covered. We lucked into one."

Martin, the defending event winner, led the field to the start-finish line to begin Lap 96, but Hornaday nudged underneath him and lifted his rear wheels off the ground before reaching the line. Martin then wiggled, and spun to the side.

Hornaday said Martin slowed so much that he was essentially brake-checking him, and refused to give Martin any advantage.

"I had his back tire off the ground," Hornaday said. "It's just one of them sad things. I hate to see it for anybody, especially Mark Martin. He races everybody clean."

*

The dominant Shell gasoline logos that adorned Harvick's driving suit and helmet at Daytona won't be as prominent in the Auto Club 500 on Sunday after Sunoco Inc., the "official gasoline of NASCAR," complained that the display violated the exclusivity of its Nextel Cup gasoline sponsorship.

Sunoco said Shell's sponsorship was supposed to focus on Shell's Pennzoil motor oil, not its gasoline.

Childress and Shell "are making adjustments to comply with our policy related to the official fuel supplier," said NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston.

*

Times staff writer Jim Peltz contributed to this report.

martin.henderson@latimes.com

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