Sunday, May 19, 2024

1984 – Caution Helps Martin Nab Slinger ASA Win

Mark Martin scored his first ASA win of the season in the Coca-Cola 300 at Slinger Super Speedway. Promoter Wayne Erickson (left), Miss Slinger Super Speedway, Wendy Burnett (second from left), and Bobby Batson, Silver Creek public relations (right), join Martin in victory lane. – Al Fortner Photo

Slinger, Wis. (May 19, 1984) – Mark Martin re-established himself as a force to be reckoned with in ASA competition at the slinger super Speedway, Saturday night, as the circuit’s former three-time titlist came back from the brink of disaster to win the Coca-Cola Badger 300.

Martin let it be known in time trials on Friday night that he was out to win this one as he came within a whisker of eclipsing Dick Trickle’s world record for a stock car on a paved, quarter-mile track. Martin’s time of 11.704 seconds was just shy of the 11.658-second mark that Trickle set back in 1981.

A total of 22 car lined up for the grueling 300-lap event and when the field took the green flag from starter Johnny Potts, Trickle dove underneath Martin going into turn one to gain the lead on the opening lap. Trickle then paced the next 15 circuits, until he slid up the banking on lap 16, allowing both Martin and Jim Sauter to slip by. On the next lap, Trickle lost third to Mike Eddy.

At the 100-lap mark it was Martin still maintaining his advantage over Sauter and the rest of the pack. Positions remained unchanged until Alan Kulwicki overtook Trickle for fourth on lap 137. Two rounds later, Mike Miller dropped Trickle down to sixth.

All the leaders, except Martin, chose to pit following a caution on lap 145. Those who pitted had to make two stops under all the caution in order to change all four tires and not lose a lap.

At the conclusion of the stops, Martin was still the leader with Sauter, Kulwicki, Eddy, Miller, and Trickle in that order. It remained that way for several circuits with Martin pulling away, even on older tires. However, by lap 171, it became evident that the tires weren’t going to last much longer and Sauter began to apply pressure for the first time.

However, Martin was able to hold off Sauter’s advances as they went in and out of slower traffic.

At that point, Martin was looking for a caution and he got one on lap 209 but not the way he would have preferred. Tony Strupp was beginning to experience some handling issues and he came up out of the low groove while Martin was passing him. Martin slowed to avoid hitting Strupp but in the process, Sauter nudged Martin, sending the leader into the infield, killing the car’s engine in the process.

But Martin was able to get his car re-fired and pulled in line in the pits without losing a lap to Sauter. After two stops to change all four tires, Martin was back out, but in sixth place, well behind the five ahead of him, who stopped 60 laps before.

Undaunted, Martin began the charge to the front. On lap 228 he caught Eddy for fifth. On lap 242 he passed Trickle for fourth. Eight circuits later, Martin overtook Miller for third. But Sauter and Kulwicki were still far ahead. Martin need another break and he got it when Strupp and Jeff Schwister collided on the backstretch, forcing another caution, and bunching the field.

Two laps later, after the caution had expired, Martin moved around both Kulwicki, and then Sauter. Martin then avoided a piece of scrap metal that flew off of Strupp’s car on lap 288 and held on to the wire for the victory, followed closely by Sauter, Kulwicki, Miller, and Trickle.

The win for Martin was his first in ASA competition since 1981.

“Without the caution on lap 268, I couldn’t have won the race,” Martin said. “That caution gave me the edge because my tires were 100 laps fresher than anyone else’s.”

Results –

1. Mark Martin
2. Jim Sauter
3. Alan Kulwicki
4. Mike Miller
5. Dick Trickle
6. Mike Eddy
7. Bob Senneker
8. Mel Walen
9. Scott Hansen
10.Harold Fair
11.Jay Sauter
12.Dave Simko
13.Tony Strupp
14.Joe Shear
15.Tom Jones
16.Bobby Dotter
17.Jeff Schwister
18.Ken Lund
19.Don Collins
20.Mike Melius
21.Tim Fontana
22.Don Walter

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