Talladega Race Day Notes

DieHard 500 Sunday notebook By Brett Borden TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 25, 1999) Notes and quotes following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway: Jeff Burton had quite a day, as did teammate Mark Martin. Burton...

DieHard 500 Sunday notebook By Brett Borden

TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 25, 1999) Notes and quotes following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series DieHard 500 at Talladega Superspeedway:

Jeff Burton had quite a day, as did teammate Mark Martin. Burton was in 3rd place when he started his engine, but heavy amounts of smoke made him bring his car into the pits on the warm-up laps, and he wound up starting the race in the rear of the field. He battled throughout the race to get back to the front, and wound up finishing 11th. It was enough to keep him atop the NASCAR Winston Cup Series point standings. Martin, meanwhile, started 6th and finished 3rd. It was a big lift for him at Talladega, a track that has taken its toll on him in previous years.

"I said our car was super-fast and we needed some help," said Martin. "We had the help. That 20 car (Tony Stewart) and the 18 car (Bobby Labonte) made my car. I'll bet we were running five miles an hour faster than Dale (Jarrett) and the 3 car (Dale Earnhardt) for a lap or so, we were reeling them in so fast. But when the 20 and 18 got hung up side-by-side back there on a pass, that left me by myself. I had a really fast car. I didn't have anybody that really wanted to run with me all day, so we didn't show much. But we did finish 3rd."

Rusty Wallace, on the other hand, had a tough weekend. On Saturday, he had the finish line (and a victory in the season's second IROC race) in his sights, only to have Earnhardt outmaneuver him for the checkered flag. On Sunday, he was caught up in a big pileup on Lap 49. In an accident that also collected Jeff Gordon, Mike Skinner, Chad Little, Ernie Irvan, Wally Dallenbach, Brett Bodine and Kenny Irwin, Wallace said he saw trouble coming well before it happened. "I really don't know who caused the accident, but it was just a matter of time. Everybody was really getting out of control. I mean all of them, four and five wide. I really honestly thought NASCAR should have thrown a caution to calm everybody down but they didn't and you saw what happened there. I looked over and I saw just a ton of cars plowing through the grass trying to make it four and five wide. When you're racing like that you're gonna have a problem and that's what happened."

For Little, the accident had to be disappointing, as things looked promising for another strong showing on one of the circuits fastest tracks. Little has two top-10s this year, 9th-place finishes at Daytona and Atlanta , and he qualified 9th for Sunday's race. But the accident put an end to any hopes of another good run. "We were running really well, but just got caught up in the accident," said Little. "This is a fun place to race, it's just that you want to stay out of the wrecks. We've been lucky this year to miss a couple of wrecks that we probably should have been in, so I guess it was bound to catch up to us."

Kyle Petty, whose accelerator got stuck in testing at Talladega a few weeks ago and ran into the flag pole, was the recipient of a special honor at the pre-race drivers' meeting Sunday morning. "I know that Kenny Schrader won the pole here," said Alabama Governor (and guest speaker) Don Siegleman. "But there is somebody else here who really deserves this pole award. It's Kyle Petty and I wanted to have a presentation with Kyle. He sat on the pole and so, Kyle, this belongs to you. Nobody deserves this more than you."

At that point Governor Siegleman gave Petty a plaque with a bent-up portion of the flag pole that he had run into.

Also in the drivers' meeting, Darrell Waltrip implored the younger drivers not to try 'bump-drafting'. He noted that some younger NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division drivers had tried the maneuver unsuccessfully after seeing it used successfully in the IROC race preceding theirs.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Brett Bodine , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Mike Skinner , Kyle Petty , Chad Little , Mark Martin