Martin's title hopes hit by points penalty

Mark Martin's hopes of claiming a first NASCAR Winston Cup title have suffered a serious setback with a points penalty that has dropped him further behind championship leader Tony Stewart

Martin's title hopes hit by points penalty

Veteran Martin is the only realistic challenger to Stewart with two races remaining. But his task has been made harder by a 25-point penalty for an unapproved front spring found on his Ford Taurus after Sunday's race at Rockingham, North Carolina.

Martin had finished second, closing to within 87 points of Stewart, who struggled home 14th. But he is now 112 points behind, leaving Stewart needing to average 11th place or better in the final two races to claim his first Winston Cup title.

"I am disappointed," said Martin. "Anybody in the Winston Cup garage would know that spring meant nothing to the performance of my car. I am heartbroken over what the fans will think, that we were cheating."

His Roush Racing team was also fined a relatively small amount of $5,000 for the offence.

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