Mark Martin used a new car and his old talent yesterday to win the Dura-Lube 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
Martin has dominated Darlington like no other Busch Grand National driver, leading with six victories and six poles since 1987. He had complained Friday that the new Ford he qualified second in behind Ward Burton was loose and flighty in the corners and not handling too well.
But Martin and his crew tightened things by race time. He outran Burton for the lead on the third lap and, except for some green-flag pit stops, was either first or second for the entire race on the 1.366-mile oval.
"I just never dreamed we could win the race. After Happy Hour yesterday, I told my crew that we were going to be embarrassed," Martin said. "I guess sometimes being mixed up on the setup and playing pin the tail on the donkey, which we did, seems to work."
Martin, who is the Busch series' all-time leader with 39 wins, has won half his 10 races this year, including four of the past five he's entered. Dave Blaney, who started 12th, was second, five car lengths behind.
* NASCAR: Jeff Burton likes tradition, and he can't think of many places that offer much more than Darlington Raceway--especially on Labor Day weekend. "The Southern 500 is the next level up," said Burton, who today will try to win the oldest NASCAR race.
Only a handful of professional sports arenas are older than the 1.366-mile track, where the first big-time stock car race was run in 1950. "Darlington is like playing at Fenway Park . . . Cameron Indoor Stadium . . . Soldier Field," he said. "It's history."
* CART: Rookie Juan Montoya, who leads Dario Franchitti in the series standings, 173-168, won the pole for today's Vancouver Molson Indy.