Tony Stewart dominated Sunday's Pennzoil 400 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but it was his teammate Bobby Labonte who won the biggest prize, clinching his first Winston Cup championship and the $3 million bonus that goes with it.
Tony Stewart dominated Sunday's Pennzoil 400 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but it was his teammate Bobby Labonte who won the biggest prize, clinching his first Winston Cup championship and the $3 million bonus that goes with it. Labonte is the first former NASCAR Busch Series champion to win a Winston Cup crown. Two-time Busch titlist Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 13th, two laps behind Stewart in the 267-lap snoozer. This is the fifth time this season that the 26-year-old rookie has finished 13th.
The Key Moment: Starting 12th, Dale Jr. and the Budweiser Team moved into the top ten after 56 laps, and seemed poised for a strong finish until a poor set of tires slowed the red No. 8 car near the halfway point. Fighting to stay on the lead lap, Earnhardt Jr. dropped another lap down to the leaders when a yellow flag flew less than five laps after the team had made a pit stop on lap 204.
Dale Junior's Quotes: "The car was good - it was loose in turn four - but I felt like it was really coming around. The longer we would run, the better we would get. We were spinning the tires coming off of turn four, and it was improving until the third set of tires. I radioed in to the guys to tell them to get ready because it felt like I had a flat tire. I just couldn't hang on unless I slowed down, and that's when we lost a lap.
"No one could run with the 20 (Tony Stewart) or the 28 car (Ricky Rudd) - they were about a half-second faster than anyone. Just kicking our butts. But when we were good, I felt like we could run with just about anyone else. We ran in front of Rudd for 8 or 9 laps there for awhile trying to get a lap back."
"It was a pretty boring race from my seat. Not too much fun. We just kinda rode around. We could pass people, but on a flat track like this, everyone gets strung out and there's not much action. We did get three-wide one time with Rusty (Wallace) and Kurt (Busch) but that was about it. The last thirty laps when everyone was bunched up, I'd run too hard and get the right rear tire heated up, so I'd have to let it cool off for awhile and then take another run at 'em'."
All With one race left in the 2000 Winston Cup season, Dale Jr. and the Budweiser No. 8 team are in 16th position overall. Dave Blaney was the top-finishing rookie, gaining his second straight top ten finish. Dale Jr. will complete the year as the second-rated rookie driver behind Matt Kenseth.
Dale Jr. participated in a special slot-car race Saturday morning to benefit Speediatrics, a pediatric unit combining state-of-the-art care with racing-themed fun, a project developed by NASCAR's Betty Jane France for Homestead (Fla.) Hospital. Earnhardt presented a check for more than $4,000 to benefit the program.
The project features animated racing characters and race-themed murals decorating walls of the waiting room and playroom areas. Speediatrics also provides funding for new beds and updated hospital equipment.