Mark Martin Wins The NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge
Sentimental fan favorite Mark Martin scored one of the biggest and most emotional wins of his storied career on Saturday night with a thrilling victory in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. The win allowed Martin to bank $1 million for his efforts as he held off a late charge from Elliott Sadler. It was Martin's second triumph in NASCAR's All-Star race, but his first win in the event since 1998. The top-five was rounded out by Hendrick Motorsports drivers' Brian Vickers, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
Sparks flew early in the night on lap 35 when Tony Stewart touched Joe Nemechek coming out of turn four to set off a chain reaction of crashes that involved nine cars and a heated post-wreck confrontation between Kevin Harvick and Joe Nemechek. After the restart, Martin held off Elliott Sadler and teammate Greg Biffle to win the first 40-lap segment.
Following a six car inversion, Ryan Newman slipped past NEXTEL Open winner Brian Vickers and cruised to victory in the 30-lap second segment. Newman's success was short-lived in the final 20-lap shootout for the cash as he lost control of his car while leading on lap 2 and collected teammate Rusty Wallace. Martin took the lead and never relinquished it on his way to victory.
Click here for the unofficial results of the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.
NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge Quotes:
Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) - This is the greatest race track in the world, and it couldn't be a better place to win a race," Martin said. "The outside was the place to be, that's for sure. I could go down to the bottom if I wanted to, though, and that was the difference"
Second Place ? Elliott Sadler (No. 38 Pedigree/M&M?s Ford) - No, it wasn?t the pit stop. We decided that we were going to take on two tires. I let Todd (Parrott) down today. I told him if they got me off pit road first, I would win the race. I let him down on that one. When Mark (Martin) and I got together, it pushed in the fender a little bit. We were both hungry, and I could see how bad he wanted it. We both knew whoever got into the turn first would win the race. I?m so sad to finish second. I wish I could be up there at the start-finish line now.
Third Place - Brian Vickers (No. 25 GMAC Chevrolet) - Going into the last segment, we needed to make more aggressive changes than we did. It was a great night. It showed. I'm so glad to show what this team is capable of. There's a lot of emotion here. I?m so happy for Mark (Martin). I can't imagine what he's going through right now, to go out on top. The thing with Bliss was something I didn't want to happen. He came down, but was doing what he had to do. I probably would have done the same thing. Right now, I'm just proud of the guys and what we did.
JACK ROUSH (Team owner, Mark Martin's No. 6 Viagra Ford) "That was awesome, and Mark did a great job. That was great. People have asked whether Mark would come back and race in the all-star race after he retires full-time at the end of the year for a guest appearance. I can?t speak for Mark but I?m voting that he comes back to the all-star race next year."
PAT TRYSON (Crew chief, Mark Martin?s No. 6 Viagra Ford) ?I couldn?t ask for a better way to send Mark out a winner. We had Jack up on our pit box so that was pretty cool. I think everybody wants to see Mark come back and run this race again next year but we?ll have to see what happens. Hopefully he?ll run this race next year.