Skinner wins; Martin disappointed again, comes in 23rd
FONTANA, Calif. -- Mark Martin lost another heartbreaker Friday night.
Five days after being passed on the last lap and losing to Kevin Harvick by the length of a hood in the Daytona 500, Martin was dominating the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race at California Speedway before Ron Hornaday Jr. bumped him out of the lead on a restart with five laps to go.
Former series champion Mike Skinner jumped past Hornaday into the lead before the caution flag came out and stayed out front, earning his 20th truck victory.
"We have to thank Ron Hornaday," said Jeff Hensley, Skinner's crew chief. "Mark Martin had us all covered. We lucked into one."
Hornaday said Martin was slow on the restart.
"I feel sorry for Mark, but he just kept getting slower and slower and slower and you can only hit the brakes so much in that situation," Hornaday said. "We were all stacking up behind him.
"Mark and I are the only ones who really know what happened and I know he tried to get the second-place truck to get out of the gas. If that happens, then maybe I'd be the guy who wound up spun out. But I did hit him and Mark is such a clean competitor I hated to see it happen."
Martin, who pitted after spinning into the infield grass, wound up 23rd.
"You know, the thing just kind of lifted up, starting spinning its wheels and I got behind on the steering," he said. "But that's OK. We had a good race. That truck was really fast and I had some fun."
It appeared Martin, driving his first race for the Wood Brothers/JTG Racing, would easily match his victory here a year ago after holding off a challenge from Skinner's Toyota on a restart on lap 92 of the 100-lap event.
But David Starr brought out another caution, his second of the night, with a spin on lap 93, giving the challengers one more chance.
"We were looking pretty good. But they have a caution for just about anything when we don't need them and we don't get them when we do," said Martin, who might have won the 500 if NASCAR had thrown a caution when cars began crashing on the last lap.
"If we hadn't had that yellow, I don't think there would have been any question of Mark Martin losing it," Hornaday said.
Jack Sprague, who came from third place on the last lap to win the truck opener last week in Daytona, finished third this time, followed by pole winner Carl Edwards, Ted Musgrave, Johnny Benson and 2006 series champion Todd Bodine.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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