Truex outduels Martin

By wire services
Published October 30, 2005

HAMPTON, Ga. - Martin Truex Jr. won the final event of the International Race of Champions series with champion Mark Martin looming in his rearview mirror Saturday.

It looked for a while as if Martin might be on the way to a third victory in four races in this year's all-star series.

The field was inverted for the start, with points winner Martin and Roush Racing teammate and runner-up Kurt Busch starting from the rear of the 12-man lineup. But Martin charged to the front, taking the lead on the 10th lap.

Truex, the reigning champion and current points leader in NASCAR's Busch Series, ran into problems early, bouncing off the wall and damaging the right side of his IROC car, one of 12 identically prepared vehicles in the race.

But caution laps don't count in IROC and Truex was able to pit for fresh tires during the ensuing yellow. That helped him race back into contention and eventually into the lead after dueling with Martin for several laps.

There was a mandatory caution flag and tire stop for everyone after lap 40. When the racing resumed, Truex pulled away, running off to a four car-length victory over Martin.

TRUCKS: Gambling on a late pit stop for fresh tires in the NASCAR Craftsman race, Kyle Busch charged from eighth to a victory in a three-lap dash that ended with most of the leaders involved in a crash.

Veteran Jack Sprague, with a nearly 2-second lead, appeared to have the win wrapped up until debris from series leader Ted Musgrave's shredded tire brought out a caution flag with just eight laps remaining in the 130-lap event.

Busch gave up second place to pit for tires and restarted eighth on lap 128. He picked his way through traffic and was third heading into the final trip around the 1.5-mile, D-shaped oval.

As the leaders drove onto the final straightaway, Sprague tried to block Busch and pushed him up into the wall, igniting a melee that caught up several other cars including Johnny Benson, Bobby Labonte and Todd Kluever.

"I looked in my mirror and saw all this stuff around me and then I realized I was going to go across the line first, so that was great," Busch said. "But I'm sorry we tore up a good Chevy Silverado truck. It's my favorite."