Pepsi 400 presented by DeVilbiss Notebook By Shawn A. Akers BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 16, 1998) Some notes and quotes following Sunday's Pepsi 400 presented by DeVilbiss at Michigan Speedway: Jeff Gordon may have pulled one off by winning...
Pepsi 400 presented by DeVilbiss Notebook By Shawn A. Akers
BROOKLYN, Mich. (Aug. 16, 1998) Some notes and quotes following Sunday's Pepsi 400 presented by DeVilbiss at Michigan Speedway:
Jeff Gordon may have pulled one off by winning the Pepsi 400 on Sunday, but it just may have been the one that got away for Jeff Burton.
In the final stages of the race, the driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries had one of the strongest and fastest cars on the race track and was running in the top three. During a caution period that began on lap 179, however, Burton, like the rest of the leaders, came in to pit, but experienced several problems in doing so.
Not only did his crew leave loose lug nuts on the car, but he also ran over the air hose leaving his pit stall, but of which induced NASCAR to force Burton to come in again the next lap around. Burton lost several positions, falling all the way back to ninth. He eventually finished fifth.
"It's real frustrating," Burton said. "We had a car fast enough to win the race and took ourselves out of it. The pit crew feels terrible, but it's not about the pit crew having a bad stop or me messing up, it's all about us getting it done together and we just didn't get it done today. We had a great car and we didn't take advantage of it. "We just had a slight miscue," said Frankie Stoddard, crew chief for the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus. "Maybe I wasn't fast enough getting around the car. The jack went down a little bit quicker than it probably needed to, and Jeff didn't see that I wasn't gone. It wasn't gonna matter because no matter what we did, we were gonna come out last because of the miscue. We ran over the pit hose and had to come back in anyway. We just took a car that was good enough to win and made it a fifth-place car."
The No. 30 Gumout Pontiac team just can't seem to buy a break this season. Running 37th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings coming into Sunday's race, driver Derrike Cope was hit from behind by Sterling Marlin on a restart on lap seven, and then proceeded to collide with Morgan Shepherd, thus ending his day. Shepherd would return with around 125 laps remaining, but retired a bit later and finished last, in 43rd position.
Cope has been plagued with injuries throughout the 1998 campaign. His best finish this season has been 15th in the GM Goodwrench Service Plus 400 back in February. In his last four races, he's finished 23rd at Pocono, didn't qualify at Indianapolis, 39th at Watkins Glen and 42nd at Michigan.
Things haven't been much better for Jeff Green. The driver of the No. 46 Money Store Chevrolet, Green hit the wall in turn four on Sunday on lap 3 and went behind the wall for several laps. Greene eventually finished 41st, a whopping 183 laps down to eventual winner Jeff Gordon.
Green skipped last weekend's Bud at the Glen (Tommy Kendall was under contract to drive the car there before Green was hired), but finished 30th at Indianapolis and 24th at Pocono. His best finish this season came at Loudon, N.H., last month, when he finished 12th.
The No. 15 Rescue Engine Formula Ford of Bud Moore, making its 1998 NASCAR Winston Cup debut in the Pepsi 400, experienced problems during "happy hour" practice on Saturday afternoon, but it wasn't related to a failed engine.
Ted Musgrave, the driver of the No. 15 Ford, ran over someone else's bolt during final practice, and busted a hole in the oil pan. The team fixed the oil pan and the car was ready to race on Sunday afternoon.
Ironically, however, it was engine failure that didn't allow Musgrave to finish the race. He brought the No. 15 Taurus behind the wall on lap 140, and never returned, tarnishing the team's first race since November of 1996. Musgrave finished 39th.
"Everything was going pretty good, but we wound up having an oil temperature problem," Musgrave said. "I think the oil cooler started getting plugged up at the screen or something and the temperature kept rising. I had to kind of stroke around there for a while to try and cool it down, but it wouldn't cool down. Before we break anything, I wanted to just park it because Bud Moore has done such a nice job, we want to show him that we can do it, but we just had a little oil problem today."
John Andretti is making a serious bid for the top-10 in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. The driver of the No. 43 STP Pontiac, who ran solid all day and finished a respectable ninth, has now posted five top-10 finishes in his last six races.
During that time, Andretti has climbed from 21st to 11th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. He trails 10th-place Ken Schrader by 51 points going into the Goody's 500 next Saturday.
Rusty Wallace can't seem to find the groove at Michigan Speedway. The driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Taurus finished 23rd in Sunday's Pepsi 400, posting his fifth straight finish of 13th or worse at the two-mile oval.
Wallace's winless streak has now been extended to 50 races, the longest such streak of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career.
Don't hand the NASCAR Winston Rookie of the Year Award to Kenny Irwin just yet. Although Irwin increased his lead in the rookie points chase by finishing 16th to Jerry Nadeau's 30th on Sunday, Irwin is still only nine points ahead of Nadeau with 12 races left in the season.
Kevin Lepage, who finished 17th on Sunday, is 22 points behind Irwin for the top rookie award.
Terry Labonte's "Iron Man" streak continued on Sunday as he made his 590th-consecutive series start. The driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet is scheduled to make his 600th straight start Oct. 25 in the Dura Lube 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.
Labonte experienced engine problems on Sunday and wound up finishing a disappointing 36th.
Source: NASCAR Online