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Martin on mission in year's second IROC race

Mark Martin needs no extra motivation when it comes to driving in the International Race of Champions series.

The two-time defending IROC champion _ and winner of three of the last four titles in the all-star series _ will start 10th today in the 12-car field for the second of four rounds this year.

The field for the 100-mile race on California Speedway's 2-mile, high-banked oval will start in reverse order of the points, with road racer Tommy Kendall on the pole, followed by Busch Series star Randy LaJoie, CART star Jimmy Vasser and defending Indy Racing League champion Tony Stewart.

Rounding out the lineup of drivers in identically prepared Pontiac Firebird Trans-Ams are Indy-car's Al Unser Jr., NASCAR's Terry Labonte and Dale Jarrett, defending Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk and Winston Cup drivers Dale Earnhardt, Martin, Jeff Burton and Daytona IROC winner Jeff Gordon.

"There are only four races in the IROC series, so it's important to try to get a good finish in each one," said Martin, who splits his IROC winnings 50-50 with his Roush Racing crew. "In a short series like this, it's the points that really count."

Thanks to lap-leader bonuses, Gordon leads Burton by just one point and Martin by two heading into today's race.

TRICKLE-DOWN EFFECT: Dick Trickle messed up his new Junie Donlavey Ford Taurus, hitting the third-turn wall in practice for Sunday's California 500. "I got a little sense of false security," Trickle, 55, said. "I went around Turn 1 and 2, and wiggled the car while getting up to speed. I felt like the tires were going to grip pretty good. But, when I went into Turn 3, they never did and the car just slipped up the racetrack. Once I got up in the loose stuff, there was no way I could hang on."

LONE STAR NATIONALS: Doug Kalitta, Cruz Pedregon and Scott Geoffrion were the leaders after qualifying at Ennis, Texas. Qualifying for the $1.7-million event continues today with two sessions. Kalitta was the leader in Top Fuel, covering the quarter-mile distance in 4.650 seconds at 314.68 mph. Pedregon set the pace in Funny Car with a .855 at 314.79. Geoffrion was No. 1 in Pro Stock with a 7.022 at 196.76.

TERRY SPEAKS: Terry Labonte said he's not mad at brother Bobby for beating him in the DieHard 500 on Sunday at Talladega, Ala. "Bobby gets paid to try to win the race in that car, just like I do in my car," Terry said. "If I couldn't win, I can't think of anybody I'd rather see win than Bobby." Bobby passed Terry with less than two laps to go in Sunday's race and went on to win in his Pontiac. Bobby got drafting help from Jimmy Spencer and Jarrett, booting Terry back to fourth place in his Chevrolet. After the race, Terry left the track without comment. That led some to assume he was angry with Bobby. "I was mad at myself," Terry said. "I had led the most laps and I felt like I had the best car. I felt like I let the team down because I didn't win."

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