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Truex wins Winn-Dixie 250



Published: Sat, July 2, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



As the car's partial owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr. succeds vicariously.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is having more success as a car owner than a driver this season.

Martin Truex Jr., driving a car partially owned by Earnhardt, passed Kevin Harvick with four laps remaining and held on after a late restart to win the Winn-Dixie 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday night.

"He's real proud of all our success," Truex said of his boss. "He's part owner of our team, and what car owner wouldn't be proud of leading the points and winning the race."

The reigning Busch series champion won his first race at Daytona and extended his lead in the series standings to 71 points over Clint Bowyer. Reed Sorenson finished 20th and dropped to third in the standings.

Truex took over the top spot last week with a second straight runner-up finish, and he carried that momentum to Daytona.

He led a race-high 67 laps in his Chevrolet and won for the fourth time this season. Nextel Cup points leader Greg Biffle was third, followed by Kenny Wallace and Bowyer.

Earnhardt, who has no victories in the Nextel Cup series this season and is a disappointing 18th in points, ran second behind Truex for much of the night before blowing an engine with 21 laps remaining.

It was another setback in a season filled with them for NASCAR's most popular driver. In fact, Truex's success has been one of the few highlights for Earnhardt.

New contract

It got even better an hour before the race, when Truex signed a new three-year contract with Dale Earnhardt Inc. He will drive one of the team's Cup cars next year.

Truex said he received several offers to race for other teams. One report had him in line to replace Rusty Wallace at Penske Racing.

Truex could have used Earnhardt's help near the end of Friday night's race.

The 25-year-old New Jersey native had the lead following a restart with eight laps to go, but he quickly got shuffled behind Harvick and Biffle.

Truex made several runs at them on the outside before finally getting to the front. But just as he took the lead, a 16-car accident turned the 100-lap race into a shootout with three laps to go.

The race was red-flagged for nearly 28 minutes while officials repaired a portion of the wall.

After the delay, Truex blocked a strong attempt from Harvick to retake the lead and stayed in front the rest of the way.




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