Mark Martin's empty gas tank was the difference Sunday as Ricky Rudd took the lead nine laps from the finish and won the Miller Genuine Draft 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Martin led 141 of the 200 laps but knew he was in trouble after making a green-flag pit stop with 55 laps to go. He kept the lead, but knew he could not make it to the end without one last splash of gas. Rudd, who announced Saturday he will field his own Winston Cup team next season, was able to stretch his final stop to Lap 150 and was nearly certain he could go the distance.
Steve Hmiel, Martin's crew chief, radioed his driver to pit on Lap 190, but changed his mind, telling him to take one more lap. Martin ran out of gas on the backstretch and had to coast to the pits.
"It's hard to believe we won it that way," Rudd said. "We won on gas mileage last September at Dover."
Martin led Lap 191, crossing the finish line in the pits, but Rudd went past on the track moments later.
Rudd, who has 14 Winston Cup victories and has won at least once for 11 consecutive years, said, "Mark was definitely the class out there. We had nothing for him at all. It was the tortoise and the hare. We couldn't outrun him, so we outlasted him. But we haven't had a victory since September, so I'll take it."
Rookie Jeff Gordon, Rudd's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, finished second, following Rudd's Chevrolet Lumina across the finish line by 1.1 seconds. Ernie Irvan was third, followed by Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace, who finished for the first time in five races. Martin finished sixth. Martin had the fastest car in practice but qualified seventh, then damaged his car in a crash with Dale Earnhardt on Saturday.
Peugeots sweep Le Mans
LE MANS, France _ Defending champion Peugeot swept the top three places in the 24-hour Le Mans endurance race, holding off a challenge by Toyota, whose powerhouse racers were plagued by mishaps and structural problems.
Toyota was fourth with one of its factory-backed TS010 cars.
Thousands of racing fans swarmed around the finish area where the Peugeot 905, piloted by Geoff Brabham, took the checkered flag 24 hours after 47 cars began the annual race.