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Twin 125's:Last Lap Victory Dash for Marlin/Photo Finish for Skinner

By David Treffer
Contributing Editor Motorsports, The Auto Channel
Daytona Beach, FL-If the Twin 125's are a preview of Sunday's Daytona 500 Kodak might want to install another camera on the start/finish line. It might be just that close. Then again, Dodge may be sandbagging everyone in the process. In the first race a Dodge driven by Sterling Marlin found the way to victory lane. In the second race the outcome was not decided for a few seconds before Mike Skinner was declared the winner over Dale Earnhardt Jr. Skinner won the race by .004 seconds. That's four-one thousandth's.

Both races featured so much back and forth passing that to keep up with the field became a scoring nightmare. From one lap to the next the 26 car fields in both races were constantly changing.

The aerodynamic package of the leading edge and the increased size of the holes on the restrictor plate have allowed the drivers to regain some control of their racing position. The need for a good drafting partner is still there but the days of freight train racing appear to be thankfully diminishing.

In the first race, Marlin's trophy dash was set up when Ron Hornaday lost control of his car on lap 45 and took out defending Daytona 500 Champion Dale Jarrett in the process. The late caution meant that the race would come down to one lap. With Dale Earnhardt leading at the time it appeared that Earnhardt would do one of his customary last lap blasts and put another Gatorade Twin 125 trophy in the history books. Leading the field to the green, Earnhardt appeared to miss a shift. Whatever the reason, Marlin rocketed past Gordon and then Earnhardt on the backstretch and then held off a stern challenge from Jerry Nadeau. For Marlin, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, the victory was especially sweet. "I know we have a strong car and a strong team, maybe we have enough for these other guys on Sunday."

The second Twin 125 was another nail-biter. Lowe's driver Mike Skinner held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win his first-ever Twin 125. Just like the earlier race the 26-car field was constantly changing. Tony Stewart appeared to have the strongest car in the field. However on lap 35 Stewart lost control of his car taking out Elliott Sadler in the process. The damage to Stewart's car was slight. Sadler's race was finished. The re-start with 10 laps left turned into an all-out brawl. The lead changed four times in the last ten laps. Finally on the last lap, Skinner tracked down Earnhardt Jr. Going into the fourth turn, Earnhardt Jr. bobbled just slightly. That small bobble was just enough to allow the door to be opened for Skinner to step in.

If the Twin 125's are a preview of Sunday's Daytona 500 then we should all be in for a treat.

Editors Note: To view hundreds of hot racing photos and art, visit The Racing Photo Museum and the Visions of Speed Art Gallery.