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Unlike Stewart, Martin remaining mum for now

By KENNY KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 1, 2000


Mark Martin can come off as dull and boring.

Fine by him. The veteran NASCAR driver chooses to act guarded.

"I've got to decide what I do and don't say between now and the end of my career because it affects too many people," Martin said.

So when Tony Stewart blasted fans, NASCAR and the media for putting too much pressure on drivers and called some Winston Cup drivers "fake" last week in a trade publication, Martin must have cringed.

A winner of 32 career races, Martin prefers to answer conservatively when asked about such topics, but he said he would open up once his career is over. (His contract with Roush Racing is good for five more seasons.) "After that, I'll say whatever I want to," the 41-year-old said. "But until then, I'll try to watch what I say. As soon as (my career is) done and I know it's done, I hope every one of you interviews me because I'll tell you all kinds of stuff. Until then, I've got to decide what I do and don't say."

EQUAL CHANCE: Bobby Norfleet, the African-American driver who was sent home by NASCAR before qualifying for a Craftsman Truck series event two weeks ago in Colorado, said the decision may have been racially motived and he may pursue legal action.

NASCAR, which approved Norfleet to drive trucks at tracks no larger than three-quarters of a mile, said Norfleet didn't have enough experience to compete on the mile Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Asked about the topic last week, three-time Winston Cup champion Darrell Waltrip said a driver has to prove he belongs.

"This is not a system where you come in because you are someone," said Waltrip, who failed to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600 and then struck a deal to drive Carl Long's car. "I'm a three-time champion, and if that was the case, I'd be in (the 600) without any problem. You earn the respect. You earn the right to be here. Nobody gives it to you. I don't care what color you are. That's part of the system and it's always been that way."

Waltrip also said he knows NASCAR is sensitive to the situation and most likely "wouldn't do anything to create a bigger problem or make a problem. "Maybe I'm naive, but I believe you are judged on what you can do and not what you are," he said.

CREW MEMBER DOING FINE: Wayne Deloria, a pit crew coordinator for Scott Pruett's Winston Cup team who was injured during a prerace show Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway, is recovering well, team spokeswoman Pam Colbert said Wednesday.

Deloria was one of four people hit by flying debris during a mock military exercise in which makeshift buildings were destroyed by detonating devices before the start of the Coca-Cola 600.

Deloria apparently fell and hit his head. He initially refused treatment but later returned to the infield care center complaining of dizziness. He was taken to a nearby hospital in Concord, N.C., for a CAT scan.

TESTING: In preparation for the Pepsi 400 on July 1, the Daytona International Speedway will be open Tuesday for a night test session.

A day session will follow Wednesday and a second night test is scheduled for June13.

Cars entered in the Paul Revere250, the Grand American Road Racing event on June29, also will test Tuesday on the 3.56-mile road course in the infield. Grandstands are open to the public for all sessions.

NO STOCK IN MONTOYA: Juan Montoya, winner of the Indianapolis500, smiled at the suggestion he now might want to try NASCAR. "Maybe when I'm older," he said Tuesday. The stock cars are too big, too slow and not powerful enough, said the 24-year-old Colombian, who won the sport's most famous race in his first try. "My No. 1 focus right now is on CART, but in the future, I want to race Formula One," Montoya said.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

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