News 97-09-22

NASCARFans E-Mail List For Kyle Petty, yesterday was a gas. And that's why he didn't win the MBNA 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway. Far and away the most dominant driver for the final half of the race, Petty was forced to stop...

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For Kyle Petty, yesterday was a gas.

And that's why he didn't win the MBNA 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway.

Far and away the most dominant driver for the final half of the race, Petty was forced to stop for a gas-and-go pit stop just 21 laps from the end. Mark Martin didn't have to, and that's why Martin was able to take the checkered flag for his fourth win of the season and first at Dover.

Petty wound up third, but his demeanor immediately afterward was one of serene accomplishment.

His wife, Patti, reached in the car and proudly patted him on the back as he gave her a wink. He then climbed halfway out of the car, untied a string holding his ponytail in place, grinned widely and, with a wave, happily acknowledged the cheers of a small group of admirers near his car.

"Ain't it great?" said Petty, who'd been the crowd favorite among the 110,000 or so observers on hand. "Seems like everybody else hates this race track, but I love it."

Indeed, this was his best finish since 1995, when he finished first on this one-mile concrete oval dubbed the Monster Mile.

And for a long time yesterday, matters appeared as if Petty would do it again. Petty took his final lead with 100 laps left and didn't take long in opening a huge lead on Martin and his other pursuers.

"He had us beat bad," Martin said, "but Jack took care of him."

That was a reference to car owner Jack Roush, who'd promised Burton and crew chief Jimmy Fennig he'd win at least one race for them this season on gas mileage.

And so he did.

Petty took his next-to-last pit stop at Lap 282. Martin didn't go in until Lap 296. Based on race observations, Roush and company knew Petty would only be able to last 90 laps or so. They also knew their own tank had enough to make it the rest of the way.

And so it did.

"Jack Roush won this race on fuel mileage," Martin said. "We've been working on it all year, [and] I used to grouse about it. We used to come up short all the time, but today we had big mileage. It was all Jack Roush."

Dale Earnhardt finished 10 seconds behind in second, which he has done two other times this season. After Petty came Bobby Labonte in fourth, followed by three drivers who finished a lap down: Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd and Winston Cup points leader Jeff Gordon.

On a day when blindingly bright sunshine was tempered by crisp temperatures, the race's pace was about as fast as anyone could have hoped for. Thing was, it made for a decidedly uneventful afternoon.

There was but one caution, and it lasted all of 11 laps, from Lap 89-99.

Still, when Michael Waltrip hit the wall, the mishap adversely affected several drivers who'd opted to take green-flag pit stops, including Jeff Burton, Ward Burton and Dick Trickle. They suddenly found themselves lapped by two, and for them, the rest of the day was a battle.

But other than Petty taking several laps to duel with, and then lap Gordon late in the race, few battles were staged. Much to the drivers' delight, engines held out and so did tires on a track that's notorious for giving Goodyear a lot of business.

"The tires were great all day," Petty said as his father, Richard Petty, reached over a crowd of media personnel and gave him a quick shoulder massage.

Martin also was quick to praise the tires, as well as their manufacturer. In past years, he said if he had run that fast and that hard, he'd have blown a tire and plowed into the wall.

But not this time. With good tires, a good crew and a savvy owner, he finally conquered a track that had given him all kinds of woe in recent years.

Did he feel for Petty? Affirmative.

"I really hate he didn't win the race, but we wanted to win, too," Martin said. "We needed to win one on fuel mileage, and we did today. But Kyle was just super."

As it was, Petty left the track happy and encouraged.

"We got beat on fuel mileage, not on the track," he said. "We'll take it." (Skip Wood, Times-Dispatch) ========== 1. (1) Mark Martin, Batesville, Ark., Ford, 400, $195,305. 2. (33) Dale Earnhardt, Kannapolis, N.C., Chevrolet, 400, $63,105. 3. (23) Kyle Petty, Randleman, N.C., Pontiac, 400, $40,205. 4. (5) Bobby Labonte, Corpus Christi, Texas, Pontiac, 400, $41,465. 5. (3) Dale Jarrett, Hickory, N.C., Ford, 399, $39,845.

6. (16) Ricky Rudd, Chesapeake, Va., Ford, 399, $34,440. 7. (2) Jeff Gordon, Pittsboro, Ind., Chevrolet, 398, $38,190. 8. (13) Bill Elliott, Dawsonville, Ga., Ford, 398, $29,990. 9. (31) Ernie Irvan, Salinas, Calif., Ford, 397, $32,340. 10. (9) Rick Mast, Lexington, Va., Ford, 396, $32,390.

11. (39) Jeff Burton, South Boston, Va., Ford, 396, $33,190. 12. (14) Ken Schrader, Fenton, Mo., Chevrolet, 396, $27,090. 13. (34) Bobby Hamilton, Nashville, Tenn., Pontiac, 396, $30,390. 14. (25) Geoff Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Ford, 396, $26,390. 15. (6) John Andretti, Indianapolis, Ford, 396, $26,990.

16. (22) Rusty Wallace, St. Louis, Ford, 395, $31,590. 17. (8) Hut Stricklin, Calera, Ala., Ford, 395, $25,590. 18. (4) Dick Trickle, Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., Ford, 395, $18,375. 19. (30) Mike Skinner, Susanville, Calif., Chevrolet, 394, $19,090. 20. (7) Joe Nemechek, Lakeland, Fla., Chevrolet, 394, $19,190.

21. (28) Steve Grissom, Gadsden, Ala., Chevrolet, 394, $24,790. 22. (27) Ward Burton, South Boston, Va., Pontiac, 393, $24,640. 23. (24) Jeremy Mayfield, Owensboro, Ky., Ford, 393, $17,490. 24. (40) Ted Musgrave, Franklin, Wis., Ford, 393, $24,340. 25. (11) David Green, Owensboro, Ky., Chevrolet, 393, $17,415.

26. (17) Brett Bodine, Chemung, N.Y., Ford, 393, $24,015. 27. (21) Sterling Marlin, Columbia, Tenn., Chevrolet, 393, $29,865. 28. (29) Johnny Benson, Grand Rapids, Mich., Pontiac, 392, $23,815. 29. (12) Chad Little, Spokane, Wash., Pontiac, 392, $16,765. 30. (38) Derrike Cope, Spanaway, Wash., Pontiac, 392, $16,215.

31. (15) Morgan Shepherd, Conover, N.C., Pontiac, 392, $20,665. 32. (41) Darrell Waltrip, Franklin, Tenn., Chevrolet, 391, $20,605. 33. (35) Robby Gordon, Cerritos, Calif., Chevrolet, 389, $20,555. 34. (37) Dave Marcis, Wausau, Wis., Chevrolet, 388, $13,505. 35. (26) Gary Bradberry, Chelsea, Ala., Ford, 384, $13,830.

36. (18) Jimmy Spencer, Berwick, Pa., Ford, 384, $20,305. 37. (36) Terry Labonte, Corpus Christi, Texas, Chevrolet, 382, $34,905. 38. (19) Kenny Wallace, St. Louis, Ford, 363, $20,305. 39. (32) Robert Pressley, Asheville, N.C., Ford, 230, drive shaft, $13,305. 40. (42) Jeff Green, Whitehouse, Tenn., Chevrolet, 166, steering, $13,305.

41. (10) Ricky Craven, Newburgh, Maine, Chevrolet, 109, engine failure, $21,805. 42. (20) Michael Waltrip, Owensboro, Ky., Ford, 86, crash, $20,305.

RACE STATISTICS Time of race: 3 hours, 50 seconds. Margin of victory: 10.334 seconds. Winner's average speed: 132.719 mph. Caution flags: 1 for 11 laps. Lead changes: 10 among 4 drivers. Lap leaders: Martin 1-4, J. Gordon 5-15, Martin 16-161, Petty 162-188, Martin 189-197, Eanhardt 198, Petty 199-282, Martin 283-296, Earnhardt 297-299, Petty 300-379, Martin 380-400.

Winston Cup points leaders: 1, J. Gordon 3,938; 2, Martin 3,833; 3, Jarrett 3,754; 4, J. Burton 3,585; 5, T. Labonte 3,384; 6, Earnhardt 3,373; 7, B. Labonte 3,250; 8, Elliott 3,111; 9, Musgrave 2,980; 10, Rudd 2,955. ========== Jeff Burton started the #99 Exide Ford in the MBNA 400 at Dover on Sunday and stayed in the car for the whole race. Burton explains what the viral infection he had: "In layman's terms, I have a virus that has attacked the nerve that sends the message from my inner ear to the brain," said Burton. "A virus tears down the ability of that nerve to do what it is supposed to do. Through stimulating the nerve, it will become better just by doing everyday things. You can teach the nerve to do what it has got to do and that's what I'm in the process of doing right now.(NASCAR Online/Jayski) ========== Close Call and the #11 Brett Bodine driven Ford's had a financial disagreement prior to the Dover weekend and is no longer on the car as a sponsor and was not on the car at all over the weekend. The #11 team is in a contract dispute with this year's sponsor and have been advised to take all lettering off the car. The car is now solid black with only the yellow number 11 on the car. The team was in in plain uniforms this weekend as well.(NASCAR Online) Rumor in the garage area was Close Call owes the team $1 million dollars. (Jayski) ========== Per TNN before the race, Morgan Shepherd will be in the #1 R&L Carriers Pontiac in 1998 (Jayski) ========== Dale Earnhardt is getting back in form, finally, and yesterday came as close as he has all year to snapping that long losing streak, finishing second to Mark Martin in the MBNA 400 and -- crew chief Larry McReynolds hopes -- gaining some momentum for the last weeks of the season.

But car owner Richard Childress said that Martin's 10-second lead at the finish showed the edge that Fords still have over Chevrolets.

''We just needed a break at the end. The only way we were going to beat that Ford was for him to run out of gas,'' Childress said emotionally. ''We can gripe today, because we were the fastest Chevrolet, and we didn't have nothing for the Fords. The rules are totally unbalanced as far as I'm concerned. You can call it whining, I don't care. I just tell it like it is.''

''It's not a win, but it's a lot better than we've been doing lately,'' Earnhardt said after finishing second by 10 seconds. ''It's just a matter of time before we win a race.

''I've got to give it to the crew. Larry and the guys did a great job on the car. Larry and the guys just don't give up. The car was pretty much right on. But Kyle was just too strong.'' (Mike Mulhern, JournalNow) ========== Joe Bessey won his first Busch tour race yesterday in a rock 'em, sock 'em MBNA 200 over Randy LaJoie and Buckshot Jones, but Bessey had to face some boos after the race for his run-in with Jones while battling for the lead with 15 miles to go.

Bessey barely avoided a late-race crash when Jones went into the wall. Bessey was in hot pursuit of a mishandling Jones with LaJoie right behind as the cars came off the high-banked second turn with 14 laps remaining at Dover Downs International Speedway. Jones got loose and was tapped by Bessey after he began to spin.

''I wish it had come under different circumstances, but I worked hard for this damned win,'' Bessey said in victory lane, ''and I'm taking it. Buckshot got loose and I had the choice to go for the win or let up. But no matter what I did, he would have lost it.

''He was having to run way high, and my car was working right on the bottom of the race track. I came up underneath him off four, and he knew I was there. I gave him a break over there, and ran down low through one and two again, cut clean underneath him . . . and he just got loose and came across the front of me, and I had no place to go.''

Jones at first was angry about the incident. But after looking at the replay he cooled down. ''I had no idea he was under there,'' Jones said. (Mike Mulhern, JournalNow) ========== Mike Irwin (mike@nascarfans.com) NASCAR Fans _______________________________________ NASCAR Fans Website http://www.nascarfans.com

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Brett Bodine , Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Derrike Cope , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Dick Trickle , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Mike Skinner , Kyle Petty , Ken Schrader , Jimmy Spencer , Joe Nemechek , Kenny Wallace , Jeff Green , Sterling Marlin , Robby Gordon , Buckshot Jones , Hut Stricklin , Robert Pressley , Johnny Benson , Ted Musgrave , Ricky Craven , Chad Little , David Green , Dave Marcis , Rick Mast , Richard Petty , Steve Grissom , Gary Bradberry , Morgan Shepherd , Jack Roush , Mark Martin