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Mark Martin Wins NASCAR BGN Series ACDelco 200

26 October 1997

ROCKINGHAM, NC -- The ACDelco 200 had a little bit of something for
everyone. First off was the great racing that the Busch series is known
for. Second, a long held record was knocked down by the race winner Mark
Martin. And the big news, at least to Randy LaJoie and the BACE Motorsports
team, the 1997 series points battle was settled.

Now for the details.

You could tell from the drop of the green flag the ACDelco 200 was going to
be one of those races. The pole sitter, Jeff Burton, took the field hard
down into turn one. The field mixed it up hard and by lap four the yellow
was flying when Ed Berrier and Perry Tripp got together in turn one.

On the lap 12 restart Jeff Burton again went hard for turn one. Mark
Martin, who started eighth on the field, sliced his way to the front in
short order. Martin drove like a man possessed as witnessed when he can
upon second place runner Tony Stewart. Martin lined up on Stewart and gave
him a sizable rap on the rear bumper to let him know he was there. Stewart
rolled out of the way and headed off for Burton.

Martin drove up to Jeff Burton and started to tangle for the lead. Martin
diced it up with Burton and finally got around for the lead on lap 36.

The caution flew again on lap 49 when Kevin Schwantz popped the rear of
Greg Sacks' car and sent him around and into the turn two wall. It was
during this caution that the leaders all dove to pit road for their first
service of the day - four tires and a full load of fuel.

Martin took the field to green on lap 54 with Jeff Burton, Ricky Craven and
Dick Trickle in tow. The green wasn't displayed too long as the field,
jockeying for position, got three-wide numerous times indicating that it
wouldn't be long before things would get out of control. It was Scott
Lagasse that got shuffled into the turn one wall on lap 56 bringing the
action to a halt.

Martin again took the field to green on lap 65 and once again the boys got
to mixing it up. The field made it 9 circuits before the caution flew again
- this time when the 88 and the 35 got together on the back straight.
Amick, in the 35, was able to continue shortly but Schwantz's day would be

When the green flew, on lap 80, Martin was still on the point. Ricky Craven
went right after Martin and got the lead by the time they got back to the
stripe. Martin, who was strong in turns three and four, would get alongside
of Craven coming to the stripe, but Craven would manage to eke out a lead
over Martin heading to the back straight.

As Martin was messing with Craven, Jeff Burton went up and grabbed the
second spot from Martin. Then the trio of Craven, Martin and Burton swapped
the lead several times as well as sharing a shove or two.

The leaders dove to pit road on lap 96 when the caution flew for a single
car incident involving Stevie Reeves.

This time it was Elliott Sadler that took the field to green after he
elected to stay out and not take fresh rubber. The move wasn't a good one
as the leaders stormed past for the lead - Mark Martin was the driver that
led the attack.

The race settled into a rhythm as Martin and Burton took turns leading the

It was during this time that the series championship was handed to Randy

As field charged down the back straight Kevin Lepage and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
tangled a bit. Lepage, who isn't the backing down type, kept racing Dale
Jr., even though his car wasn't quite under him. Then as Lepage slid past
the 31 car it twitched and slid towards the wall. Dale Jr, showing all the
earmarks of his dad dove for the opening that Lepage's car was creating. It
was an unfortunate move as Todd Bodine chose that same piece of real estate
for his escape. The #36 Stanley Tools Pontiac started sliding and spinning
and hit the turn three wall hard. Bodine's car then slid down the track and
got a slight clip by another car trying to clear the mess. A total of 5
cars were collected in the incident.

The wreck, that knocked Bodine out for a brief moment - and was not of his
making, handed the series championship to points leader Randy LaJoie. The
BACE Motorsports team, though sad about Bodine's fate, was elated at the
teams three-peat and LaJoie's repeat of a championship performance.

When the mess was cleaned up and the field was ready to race it was Jeff
Burton who took them green on lap 166. Craven then zipped right by Burton
for the lead on 167. Burton got it back on 168 - Craven took it back on
169. All the while Martin was watching from the third spot as those two
fought for the lead.

The final caution of the day flew on lap 179 when Matt Kenseth cut a tire
and hit the turn three wall.

Craven took the field to green on lap 183 and held the point for 2 laps -
that was when Mark Martin went sailing around Craven for the lead. That was
all she wrote as Martin was able to check out while Craven and Burton and
Trickle fought for position behind him.

Martin beat second place finisher Trickle to the stripe by a healthy 1.747
second margin. Craven followed Trickle and Burton and Hermie Sadler fill
out the top-five.

The victory, Martin's eighth here at Rockingham in the Busch series,
catapulted Martin to the position of the winningest driver in Busch series
history. Martin displaces Jack Ingram in the record books.

"We really wanted to win. We really wanted that record," said Martin. "If
the race was 25 more laps we surely wouldn't have won it. Craven or Burton
or Trickle for sure would have gotten me."

The ACDelco took 1 hour 59 minutes 42 seconds to complete and held an
average speed of 100.426 miles per hour. There were 17 lead changes among 4
drivers - all Winston Cup regulars. The caution flew a total of 8 times for
50 laps.

The next race will be the Busch season finale at the newly redesigned
Homestead Motorsports Complex on November 9th.

Mike Snow -- The Auto Channel