Mark Martin outlasted a vibration and turned the inaugural Las Vegas 400 into a runaway, leading a rout Sunday by a squadron of new Ford Tauruses.
"It wouldn't have gone 500 miles," Martin said.But it went 400, leading a sweep of the top seven positions by the Tauruses, which have replaced the discontinued Thunderbirds. They also took 14 of the first 15 positions in just their third Winston Cup race.
Martin drove the best of those Fords to his 23rd career victory, beating Roush Racing teammate Jeff Burton to the finish line at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by 1.605 seconds - about 20 car-lengths.
"This is the ultimate race track," Martin said. "I love this place."
Pole-winner Dale Jarrett and series points leader Rusty Wallace were the only drivers aside from Burton who appeared to have any chance against Martin.
But Jarrett went out with an engine problem while running second on lap 218. Wallace, who finished third, was unable to mount a challenge after Martin moved past him to take the lead on the 201st of 267 laps at the 11/2-mile oval.
The Roush team, which expanded from three cars to five this season, put all of them in the top 10. Johnny Benson was fourth, Ted Musgrave sixth and Chad Little 10th - the final car on the lead lap.
Adding Benson and Little prompted a reorganization of the Roush program, with Buddy Parrott becoming Martin's team manager and holdover crew chief Jimmy Fennig supervising a virtually new crew for the 39-year-old driver.
"This is a brand new race team," said Martin, who agreed with Roush to let longtime crew chief and team manager Steve Hmiel go to work with Benson and Musgrave.
"These guys really put it all together," Martin said. "I was so afraid we'd come into this season and people would say I did the wrong thing."
After an engine problem led to a 38th-place finish in the opener at Daytona, Martin finished third and led the most laps at Rockingham. He again led the most laps, but said it wasn't as easy as it looked.
"About 120 laps into the race, we had a terrible vibration, and I was sure I was going to fall out," Martin said. "I prepared myself to accept it. I said to myself, "I want to be leading if that happens.' So we went to the front and tried to stay there."
Martin, who averaged 146.530 mph, wound up leading six times for 82 laps - including the last 23.
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt had the top Chevrolet, finishing eighth. The next GM finisher was Terry Labonte, 15th in a Chevrolet.