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In a Nutshell: Mark Martin scored his fifth win of the 2006 season Saturday afternoon in the John Deere 250, taking the checkered flag under caution over Mike Skinner after a wild four-truck wreck occurred on the race’s final lap. Ted Musgrave, Todd Bodine and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top-five finishers in the first Craftsman Truck Series race ever held at Talladega.
Who Should Have Won: Martin. Martin started on the pole for the third time this season and led more than a third of the event (37 of 94 laps), clearly making a statement as the man to beat. On the restart from the race’s final caution with seven laps left, Musgrave led the field to the green flag, but Martin made a spectacular move on the outside to take the lead for the fourth and final time, holding his ground for the race’s final laps to take the checkered flag.
Two Questions You Should Be Asking After this Weekend’s Race
1) Should Bodine have had to serve the penalty handed down by NASCAR with just seven laps remaining?
With less than 10 laps left Saturday, Bodine clearly went below the yellow line and passed Martin. NASCAR issued a penalty to Bodine because he advanced his position below the yellow line. Mike Hillman Jr. argued with NASCAR officials that Bodine was forced below the yellow line and shouldn’t be penalized, but to no avail; reluctantly, Bodine brought his No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota down pit road, moving from first to 27th in the running order before charging his way up to fourth by the checkered flag.
After watching the replay several times, it’s very clear that NASCAR made the right decision in penalizing Bodine; he could have easily avoided that situation. Fortunately, the penalty didn’t prove as costly as he and his team first thought it might be.
2) Should the Craftsman Truck Series return to Talladega during the 2007 season?
Overall, the race Saturday afternoon was pretty uneventful, but there were still moments that made it exciting. There were only seven cautions for 23 laps, but most of those cautions were not accident-related. On the last lap, drivers were racing five- and six-wide in the corners and on the backstretch; yet, with the exception of the turn 3 crash on the final lap, there were no huge accidents. The CTS should most definitely revisit Talladega next year.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
After being black-flagged for passing below the yellow line, Bodine looked like he might take a pretty big hit in the points standings. Instead, a combination of great driving and a last-lap crash helped Bodine salvage that fourth-place finish, giving him a 121-point lead over Johnny Benson. The rest of the top five remained unchanged, as third-place David Reutimann sits only 26 points ahead of fourth-place Musgrave. Rick Crawford rounds out the top five, sitting 368 points back from Bodine.
The points race from 6th-10th is much more exciting than the race for the championship right now. Less than 100 points separate Ron Hornaday in sixth and Mike Bliss in 10th. David Starr, Terry Cook and Dennis Setzer round out those drivers battling for the final five top-10 spots.
“There were a couple of keys to that thing working out today. The first thing was we overheated early and made a friend coming through in Mike Wallace. Mike and I worked together quite a bit, and there at the end when we lined up there with all of those Toyotas it was not looking good. I know Mike real well, and I know he had plans on still winning that race. We came off turn 2 and it got crazy and he ended up getting caught up in that thing.” – Mark Martin
“NASCAR has a rule that says you can’t pass below the yellow line. The leader is not going to give that up. He got a big run and I gave it up, but apparently, he was below the yellow line. He’s the points leader, and he has to think about stuff like that. I hate it for Todd [Bodine], I really do, but he wasn’t going to get the inside on me there at the end of the race.” – Mark Martin on Bodine’s penalty
“I think it was a clean pass. I was alongside Mark before I was ever below the yellow line. I was below the yellow line because Mark [Martin] forced me there. Unfortunately, I’ve walked through this garage area and no one has said I deserved that penalty.” – Todd Bodine
“All we wanted to do was come out of here without saying the No. 5 truck caused the Big One. We came out of here with a good finish but I got into the back of Wallace there going into [turn] 3. I feel bad for Mike [Wallace] and those guys. We had a good finish, but unfortunately, the No. 5 truck was involved in the crash.” – Mike Skinner
Next Up: The Craftsman Truck Series is off this week before running its 21st race of the season at the .625-mile short track in Martinsville, Va. The Kroger 200 will run Saturday, October 21, with television coverage starting at 1:00 p.m. ET on SPEED. The race can also be caught on your local MRN affiliate.
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