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Busch, Martin stage thrilling duel at Bristol

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madinmaryland Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 12:47 PM
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Busch, Martin stage thrilling duel at Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) Mark Martin has never been a dirty racer.

With trophies on the line, or points, or a spot in the season-defining Chase for the championship, he's prided himself on being a clean driver though 1,000 NASCAR races. So as a sold-out crowd watched to see if Martin would lay a bumper to Kyle Busch in the closing laps at Bristol Motor Speedway, it never even crossed his mind.

"We're racing, going for it, you know?" Martin said. "I expect Kyle to race me hard. I expect him to race me clean. And he has. He can expect the same from me. I didn't need to use the bumper. Kyle gave me all the room in the world to make that pass, and I didn't make it."

There were no last-lap fireworks Saturday night as Busch and Martin staged a side-by-side charge to the checkered flag.

Racing that hard could have been disastrous for both: Martin is clinging to a spot in the 12-driver Chase field, while Busch is fighting hard to get back into contention. Both drivers were in desperate need of a solid finish, and one small slip could have sunk their seasons.

Instead, they raced clean and Busch emerged the winner. It snapped his 13-race Sprint Cup Series winless streak - an eternity by his standards - while Martin settled for second. The two are now tied with a series-best four wins apiece.

"Man, what an honorable race car driver Mark Martin is," Busch said. "Such an honor to race with him. To give him the room that he needed, for him to give me the room I needed, was awesome. I can't thank him enough. He didn't let me win the race, but he certainly didn't take it from us."


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