Martin Takes IROC Crown

Veteran racer Mark Martin won the third round of the International Race of Champions Series at Richmond ­ although it was reigning Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch who dominated most of the race

Martin Takes IROC Crown

On a restart with two laps remaining, Busch, the 2003 IROC champion, tried valiantly to hold off his Roush Racing teammate, but Martin coaxed the nose of his IROC car through the start/finish line a mere .021 seconds ahead of him, in one of the closest finishes in the series' 115-race history.

Martin's 13th-career victory will be enough to clinch the 2005 series points title when he starts the final race of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway on October 29, giving him a record-breaking fifth IROC Series crown and the $1 million prize.

"On the restart I was faced with nothing but 'go,'" said Martin. "That last lap I got a good run off of Turn Two. Kurt Busch is just an awesome guy to race with. If the start-finish line had been a foot further down, he'd have gotten me. That was really cool."

Busch, who started the night on the outside of Row Two, assumed the top spot following a restart on lap three and then proceeded to lead 85 of the 90 laps (67.5 miles) on the three-quarter mile D-shaped oval.

"It's something I'll remember forever, racing Mark Martin for the IROC win," said Busch. "It was one of those great battles, where I knew if I couldn't hit him, knew I couldn't touch him, and I wanted to race him clean."

Matt Kenseth, who started in the eighth position and was in the middle of the pack for much of the race, made a late charge to finish third. IRL IndyCar driver Buddy Rice turned in a strong performance and claimed fourth, followed by NASCAR Busch Series driver Martin Truex Jr.

Pole-sitter Scott Pruett rebounded from on-track incidents in the first two races, registering a solid sixth, followed by World of Outlaws drivers Danny Lasoski (seventh) and Steve Kinser (eighth). They were followed by Max Papis, Sebastien Bourdais, Helio Castroneves, and Bobby Hamilton.

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