Charlotte Notes

UAW-GM Quality 500 Sunday notebook By Shawn A. Akers CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 4, 1998) Post-race notes and quotes from Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway: A sewage pump on U.S. Highway 29,...

UAW-GM Quality 500 Sunday notebook By Shawn A. Akers

CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 4, 1998) Post-race notes and quotes from Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:

A sewage pump on U.S. Highway 29, which runs in front of Charlotte Motor Speedway, temporarily shut down Sunday afternoon, causing a line backup. The malfunction caused an overflow from a manhole located in the East Grandstand on the backstretch of CMS, and the overflow made its way onto the race track about 94 laps into Sunday's race. The situation caused a 42-minute delay as the race was red-flagged, forcing cars to duck onto pit road. The delay allowed drivers to catch a breather and climb out of their cars. The race resumed at approximately 3:17 p.m. EDT.

Speaking of delays, there were a total of 11 caution flags during the 500-mile race on Sunday for a total of 65 laps. There were several accidents, including an 11-car melee on lap 204 that caused a caution for 10 laps. The time of the race was four hours, four minutes and 11 seconds, but with the sewage pump delay, the race lasted nearly five hours.

Last week, Ricky Rudd continued his streak of at least one victory a year in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series to 16 by winning the NAPA AutoCare 500 at Martinsville. On Sunday, Jeff Gordon extended an impressive streak of his own. The driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet and the current NASCAR Winston Cup Series points leader finished fifth in the UAW-GM Quality 500, giving him an incredible 15 consecutive top-five finishes this season. After a 37th-place run at Richmond in the Pontiac Excitement 400, Gordon began the string with a third-place finish at Michigan in the Miller Lite 400 in June. Included in that streak are seven victories. He hasn't won a race, however, since winning the Winston "No Bull Five" million dollar bonus and his fourth consecutive Southern 500 at Darlington in early September. Gordon owns a 174-point lead over Mark Martin with just five races left in the season. That means the defending series champion Gordon has only to finish fifth or better in those races to claim his third championship overall, and second in a row. Gordon has never won a race in October or November in his NASCAR Winston Cup Series career.

Jack Roush certainly had a lot to smile about on Sunday. Not only did his best driver, Mark Martin, earn his seventh victory of the season in the UAW-GM Quality 500, but Roush had four of his five drivers finish in the top-10. Jeff Burton drove his No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford to a third-place finish, while rookie Kevin Lepage was sixth and Chad Little was eighth. Only Johnny Benson, who finished 28th, had a bad day from the Roush stables.

Lepage recorded a career-best NASCAR Winston Cup Series finish on Sunday. The driver of the No. 16 PRIMESTAR Ford has shown continued improvement since taking over that ride in August from Ted Musgrave. "We had a great weekend here for Kevin Lepage," said Lepage, who also finished seventh in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division All Pro Bumper to Bumper 300 on Saturday. "What a great day for the guys. They've been working hard all year long. I've been putting them at a deficit with my qualifying efforts, but today they never gave up on me in the pits. They kept working hard trying to make small adjustments."

Lepage's surge has made things a bit tighter in the chase for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors. Kenny Irwin continues to set the pace with 205 points, but Lepage closed the gap on Sunday, and now has 188 points. Jerry Nadeau, driver of the No. 13 Cartoon Network Ford, has 179 points, and Steve Park, driver of the No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet, has 128 points.

Bobby Hamilton is putting on a mini-run of his own at the end of the season. With his fourth-place finish in Sunday's race, the driver of the No. 4 Kodak Chevrolet has strung together three top-10 finishes in his last four races. "We had a pretty good day," Hamilton said. "It was a top-five finish, and we need those. We're fighting for the top-10 in points, and today was a big step in that direction." Hamilton moved up from 13th to 11th in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. He's only 15 points behind 10th-place Terry Labonte, and 40 points behind ninth-place John Andretti. The outlook is even brighter for Hamilton considering the tracks remaining on the schedule. He heads for Talladega and Daytona, the next two stops, behind the wheel of one of the top restrictor-plate rides in the sport. Following those two events are trips to Rockingham, where he won the fall race in 1997, and Phoenix, where he sat on the Bud Pole and finished third last year.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers John Andretti , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Terry Labonte , Steve Park , Kevin Lepage , Jerry Nadeau , Johnny Benson , Ted Musgrave , Chad Little , Jack Roush , Mark Martin