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Truex holds it together to win

Martin Truex stays out front after a green-white-checkered restart to take the Busch Winn-Dixie 250.

By MIKE READLING
Published July 2, 2005


DAYTONA BEACH - Not even being completely stopped could keep Martin Truex from running to victory in the Winn-Dixie 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

Truex overcame a lengthy red flag in the final laps and a hard rush by pole-sitter Kevin Harvick on the penultimate lap to record his fourth victory of the season. Harvick was second, followed by Greg Biffle, Kenny Wallace and Clint Bowyer.

The 100-lap race was stopped on Lap 99 when the red flag flew after a 16-car crash coming out of Turn 2. The wreck occurred back in the pack behind the leaders but took out Reed Sorenson, who entered the night second in points, Denny Hamlin (sixth), Ashton Lewis (seventh) and Jason Keller (ninth).

After 28 minutes, most of which was needed to repair a crossover gate by the backstretch grandstands, the field restarted for a green-white-checkered finish.

During the red flag, 57-year-old C.W. Smith was removed from his parked car and transported by ambulance to the infield care center after radioing his crew that he didn't feel well.

Truex took the green flag on the restart as the leader and blocked Harvick down the backstretch, even dodging below the yellow line to the keep the Nextel Cup regular at bay.

"I was real concerned about Kevin Harvick," Truex said. "No matter how slow I tried to go on the restarts he'd hang back and try to get a run on me. I was trying to make my car real wide."

That turned out to be Harvick's final challenge as he couldn't get a run on the final lap, settling for his seventh top-five finish in 11 Busch races this season.

Truex, the reigning Busch series champion, earned his first win at Daytona and extended his lead in points to 71 over Clint Bowyer.

The race looked to be an all DEI affair as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Truex and Paul Menard lined up in a three-car train and dominated the middle laps of the race.

Those three pitted together under green on Lap 52, exited the pits as a group and drafted back to the front when the caution flew on Lap 56.

Those three cars were strong until Lap 78 when Earnhardt threw an oil pump belt heading into Turn 3. His engine locked up coming out of Turn 4 and Menard bumped him into a spin. Earnhardt managed to keep the car out of the pack and off a wall but the damage was done and he finished 40th.

"I couldn't do much of anything to get out of their way," said Earnhardt, who is part-owner of Truex's car. "It was a good engine right up until it went. Normally those DEI engines don't do that, especially the Busch engines."