IROC: Martin wins IROC at Indy, Earnhardt takes season championship
7 August 1999
INDIANAPOLIS - Mark Martin edged Jeff Gordon by .395 of a second Friday for his second consecutive IROC at Indy victory, but Dale Earnhardt held off Martin for the season championship by one point with his eighth-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt edged fellow NASCAR Winston Cup standout Martin, 75-74, for his third career True Value International Race of Champions season title. Earnhardt collected $225,000 for the season title, ending Martin's three-year streak of championships.
"I didn't really think there was a chance in the world we could win this championship, so it kind of took the drive out of it for me," Martin said. "But once I got strapped in, it felt good again. I just wish I could get this luck in Winston Cup and for it to last for that long of a time."
Martin will try to accomplish a weekend double Saturday during the NASCAR Winston Cup Brickyard 400, which starts at 12:15 p.m. (EST).
Earnhardt struggled with handling problems in the 40-lap IROC race, ending his chances of pulling off an unprecedented four-race season sweep in the racing all-star series among 12 drivers in identically prepared stock cars.
"It's been a great one," Earnhardt said. "I had the opportunity to sweep the series, but with Mark (Martin) here, that's tough to do. It was great to see Mark go on and win without beating me for the championship."
Martin started 11th in the 12-car field, took the lead on Lap 9 and maintained it for the rest of the race. Pole-sitter Eddie Cheever Jr., the 1998 Indianapolis 500 winner representing the Pep Boys Indy Racing League, finished third, Bobby Labonte fourth and Rusty Wallace fifth.
The only incident of IROC at Indy came on Lap 3 when CART driver Greg Moore spun in the short chute between Turns 1 and 2, hitting the wall with the left side of the car. Moore was unhurt but was eliminated from the race in last.
NASCAR Winston Cup and IROC test veteran Dave Marcis replaced CART driver Adrian Fernandez in the starting lineup. Fernandez suffered arm and wrist injuries Friday in practice for the CART event in Detroit. Second-round qualifying for Saturday's sixth Brickyard 400 took place before the IROC at Indy, with Steve Park, Rick Mast and Ted Musgrave earning starting positions based on second-round qualifying times.
Two-time Brickyard 400 pole-sitter Ernie Irvan did not qualify and was forced to take a provisional starting position. He will start 40th. Other drivers taking provisionals: Chad Little, Johnny Benson, Kevin Lepage, Bobby Hamilton and Jimmy Spencer.
Notable drivers failing to qualify for the Brickyard 400 include Brett Bodine, Steve Grissom, Morgan Shepherd, Mike Wallace, Dick Trickle and Buckshot Jones.