DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Stock car veteran Mark Martin, who has made a career of winning International Race of Champions events, won another one Friday at Daytona International Speedway.
It was the 11th IROC victory for the 44-year-old Winston Cup driver, tying Al Unser Jr. and the late Dale Earnhardt for most.
"I'm in pretty fast company with those two," said Martin, who has won a record four IROC series championships. "Al Jr. was the best all-around guy I've ever seen jump into an IROC car, cold turkey, and just go like crazy. And, of course, everybody knows how tough Earnhardt was to beat.
"But I've got a bunch of kids out there now that are incredible race car drivers. It was a pretty tall order today. I'm sure they're going to be gunning for me next time."
Driving the green No. 8 car in a field of 12 identically prepared Pontiac IROC Firebirds, Martin twice moved in front by passing fellow NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson, once on the third lap and later on Lap 24, only to have Kevin Harvick take the lead away from him three laps later.
Once Martin got back in front on Lap 32, he held off Roush Racing teammate Kurt Busch and World of Outlaws driver Danny Lasoski, the surprise of the 40-lap race over the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
"Coming off of (Turn) 2 (on the last lap), we were all up so close to one another that the cars were slipping around and I think Danny's car slipped up and that allowed Kurt to squeeze in beside him," Martin said. "That slowed them down and I got pretty far out ahead."
Lasoski, whose career has been spent mostly in sprint cars on small, dirt tracks, was ecstatic about his third-place finish.
"I'll tell you what, I had the time of my life," he said. "It was an absolute learning experience. I was here last year and didn't have a clue what we were doing. Tony (Stewart) was coaching me from the pit area."
Stewart, the Winston Cup champion, owns the Outlaws car Lasoski drives.
"Lasoski drove a fantastic race," Martin said. "It must have felt a little bit like his World of Outlaws car. They did some slipping and sliding. The cars were very stable, but they would get really loose when you got someone tucked underneath you. It didn't faze those guys - they're used to that."
Steve Kinser, 17-time Outlaws champion, finished sixth.
"I think what Danny and I showed was that if you can drive a sprint car, you can drive any kind of race car," he said.
The three Indy Racing League drivers did not fare well. IRL champion Sam Hornish finished eighth, Felipe Giaffone 10th and Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves 11th.
Giaffone and Kinser were involved in a mid-race collision, but neither car was damaged enough to knock it out of the race.
"I don't even know who I took out," said Giaffone. "Somebody touched me and I got loose and ran into the guy (Kinser). It was a shame. When you are running close in the tri-oval, the car gets really loose. It was better in the beginning of the race, then all of a sudden I got squeezed in the middle and lost the draft.
"Then, with five laps to go, I touched Hornish, and that upset both of us. It was my mistake. It is very different from what we are used to, but it was very much fun for me."
The next IROC race is set for April 5 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.