By Phil and Nancy Schilke - Motorsport.com
Brookyn, MI - Jeff Gordon dominated the race and lead the most laps. His early protagonist was Ricky Rudd who made an early bid on the first lap going into turn 3 and then a late challenge in the las five laps taking the lead on the 199th lap.
The complexion of the race changed when Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew the engine, probably the result of having run out of fuel earlier in the race. Under the yellow, both Gordon and Rudd had miscues in the pits. Rudd took on two tires when he wanted four and made a second pit stop to complete the service and Gordon had full service with four new tires but had to make a second stop due to loose left side lug nuts because the jack was dropped to soon and also had a right rear track bar adjustment. This gave the lead to Sterling Marlin.
However, when the green came back out, both Gordon and Rudd were able to charge back up to the top five. The final caution on lap 195 set the stage: Marlin, Gordon and Rudd.
Top five were Gordon, Rudd, Marlin, Jeremy Mayfield and Ryan Newman.
Jeff Gordon (#24 DuPont Chevrolet Rick Hendrick Motorsport) - finished first.
Jeff Gordon and Terry Labonte. Celebrating Hendrick Motorsports' 100th Winston Cup victory. Photo by Robert Kurtycz.
"We knew we had something left in the car to make a run on Sterling."
"Throughout the whole race, I was concerned about Rudd - he was tough. I know how strong the Yates motors are."
"We got momentum but we have to stay together, we don't want to beat ourselves."
"The way this sport is, you have to run hard every weekend. We need to ride the wave we are on."
Ricky Rudd (#28 Texaco/Havoline Ford Robert Yates Racing) - finished second.
"Car ran better in the second half of each run then the first half. Track got pretty greasy at the end."
"Pit stop miscue did hurt but it was definitely exciting on the restarts. Some faster cars in back due to pit stops and we were going three wide into turn 2 - a little exciting."
"Carried too much momentum in the last lap and had to get on the brakes in order not to take Gordon and myself out."
"Car runs good every week. Very competitive thanks to Robert Yates. Team is getting stronger and we will win races."
"Expect an interesting second half of season due to teams coming on strong."
Sterling Marlin (#40 Coors Light Dodge Chip Ganassi Racing) - finished third.
Matches Marlin's best finish here at MIS.
"I was hoping to give Dodge it's first win. And the win for Coors Light, the team, Chip and myself."
"The last cautions really hurt me as it usually took two to three laps to get back up to speed due to a probable fuel pump problem."
"This was the best motor we had all year. We will keep working hard and get some wins."
Ryan Newman (#02 ALLTEL Ford Penske Racing) - finished fifth.
Highest finishing rookie at MIS and only fourth race in Winston Cup.
"Had a great race car."
"Today's race was a classic Winston Cup race where being patient is good. I was staying out of trouble while gaining experience and then ran a sprint at the end."
"Ran side-by-side with Dave Blaney at the end and on the final lap, was able to get a jump on him coming out of turn 3."
"This was a total blast for me!"