Martin Wins IROC Opener

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Daytona Beach, Fla. - Mark Martin proved he was the best of the best on Friday at Daytona International Speedway as he won a highly competitive Round 1 of True Value IROC XXVII.

Martin, driving the No. 8 Pontiac Firebird sporting green colors took the lead on Lap 32 thanks to some bump drafting from World of Outlaws driver Danny Lasoski. He then managed to hold off the rest of the field to claim his first IROC win at Daytona and his 11th career IROC win.

Martin, who resides in Daytona Beach, Fla., is now tied for most IROC wins alongside the late Dale Earnhardt and Al Unser Jr.

"Al Jr. was the best all round guy to jump in a IROC car just cold turkey," Martin said. "Earnhardt, everybody knows how tough he was to beat. We had some great races and some great battles. But I've got a bunch of kids out there now that are incredible race car drivers.

"It was a pretty tall order today and I'm sure they're going to be gunning for me next time. It was a great race. This place hasn't been overly kind to me. This is a little bit of sunshine on our Speedweeks."

Rounding out the top five was Martin's Roush Racing teammate Kurt Busch, Danny Lasoski, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle.

On the last lap coming out of Turn 4, Lasoski made a move on the high side of Martin, but Busch ducked low and stayed behind Martin to take runner-up honors.

"It's fitting he won the race today," Busch said. "He was the smartest guy out there."

One of the highlights of the race was an amazing save by Helio Castroneves coming through the tri-oval on Lap 14. The Indy Racing League star drove his Pontiac Firebird through the grass and regained control of the car and returned to racing action.

"It was tremendous," Busch said of Castroneves recovery.

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