The 1994 Goody’s 250 was in the bag for Mark Martin.
A caution had come out for an incident with five laps left in the April 9 Xfinity (Busch) Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, a result of an incident between Hermie Sadler and Robert Pressley.
Martin, trying to win from the pole, was the leader over series regular David Green, driver for Bobby Labonte Racing.
“I kept telling myself the last 20 laps, ‘Please Lord, let there not be a caution,'” Green told ESPN later. “Dang caution flew and I said, ‘Dang, we’re going to finish second.'”
Four laps later, Martin led the field across the start-finish line.
That’s when problems began for Martin.
“I don’t look at the flagman that often,” Green said in the following week’s issue of Winston Cup Scene. “But I happened to look at him this time.”
What Green saw was the white and yellow flag waving. There was one lap left.
But Martin, who had just led his 195th lap in the 250-lap event, thought the race was over.
His confusion was aided when third-place driver Tommy Houston pulled up beside his car to congratulate him.
As the field went through Turns 3-4, Martin pulled his No. 60 Winn-Dixie Ford onto the apron and drove to the garage and an intended destination of Victory Lane.
“I can’t believe anybody else would be that stupid,” Martin joked to ESPN afterward. “Stupidest thing I’ve ever done, there’s nothing else I can say. I thought the race was over.”
The rest of the field, with Green leading it, stayed on the track and took the checkered flag.
To be on the safe side, Green stayed on the track for one more lap to ensure he’d won his second career Xfinity race. Martin finished 11th.
“I hate it for (Martin),” Green said according to Winston Cup Scene. “But we’ve had a real good car the last three races and have been there with a chance to win a race, only to have cautions kill us. I guess it was just our day today.”
While it was his only win of the year, Green went on to claim the 1994 Xfinity championship.
Also on this date:
1961: Fred Lorenzen earned his first of 26 career Cup Series wins in a rain-shortened race at Martinsville Speedway, with only 149 of 500 laps completed. He won twice in his first five starts for Holman-Moody Racing.
1972: Bobby Allison led 445 of 500 laps and won at Bristol, beating Bobby Isaac by four laps.
1978: With a backup engine under the hood and after a spin on Lap 170, Benny Parsons went to victory lane over Darrell Waltrip at Darlington.
1989: Battling the flu, Rusty Wallace passed Greg Sacks with 63 laps to go and then beat Darrell Waltrip by .26 seconds to win at Bristol. Wallace made it to the end of a race that saw a track-record 20 cautions that slowed it for 98 of 500 laps.
1995: Dale Earnhardt led 227 of 400 laps and beat Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin for his fifth and final Cup victory at North Wilkesboro.