- Terry Blount, ESPN Staff Writer
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FONTANA, Calif. -- Having four days to think it over hasn't changed Mark Martin's perspective. Martin said Thursday he has no regrets about the finish of the Daytona 500.
He fell three feet short of a victory when Kevin Harvick edged by him in a side-by-side finish as seven cars were wrecking behind them.
Some fans believe the caution should have come out sooner, freezing the field and possibly making Martin the winner. But Martin is OK with it.
"I accepted the result about 10 seconds after we crossed the start/finish line," Martin said. "That's how long it took me to get my arms around it.
"It's been like being caught in a hurricane, but I never gave a thought to the controversy or what could have been. The caution could have come out at a time when I wasn't ahead," he said.
Martin said he has received an outpouring of support this week from his fans.
"I've had so many well-wishers," he said. "It warms my heart. Many of them are heartbroken and I hate that. I wish I could fix it, but I was glad to have a shot at it. That hardware [the winning trophy] means a lot, but not as much as the respect of the fans and the competitors."
The second-place finish at Daytona in the No. 01 Chevy means Martin is No. 2 in the Cup standings entering the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway on Sunday. His plan this year is to run a partial schedule, but he left the door slightly open to change his mind.
His first weekend off is scheduled for the Car of Tomorrow debut March 25 at Bristol, Tenn. But what if he's leading the points entering that race?
"What if?" Martin said. "Y'all are worrying about stuff you don't need to worry about. I'm not worried about it. We've run one race and everybody's getting all revved up over nothing. I don't have any desire to race at Bristol at this time. No one has told me what I have to do. I get to do what I want to do."
Jay Frye, general manager of Ginn Racing, said this week they are open to Martin running the full Cup schedule if he changes his mind.
Martin realizes his legion of fans would encourage him to stay in the car if he's near the top of the standings.
"I love the fans and I'm going to continue to race for a long time under these circumstances," Martin said. "But under racing-them-all circumstances, I wouldn't be. The real reason you see me in Cup cars now is that I'm able to do it the way I want to."
Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.