Darlington Sunday notes

Pepsi Southern 500 Sunday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 6, 1998) Some notes and quotes following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway: Not only did Jeff Gordon win the...

Pepsi Southern 500 Sunday Notebook By Shawn A. Akers

DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 6, 1998) Some notes and quotes following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway:

Not only did Jeff Gordon win the Winston "No Bull Five" million dollar sweepstakes again on Sunday in the Pepsi Southern 500, but he also gained some big-time ground in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship chase -- which has an even bigger payday at season's end. Unofficially, with nine races left in the 1998 season, Gordon has stretched his lead in the point standings to a healthy 199 points over Mark Martin, who developed late engine problems. Dale Jarrett, who finished third on Sunday, is now closer to Martin (49 points behind in third), but is still a distant 248 points behind Gordon in the chase for the championship.

"There's never a good time (to lose a big chunk of points)," Martin said. "It's all the same. No matter when it happens, it costs you the same amount of points, so it ain't over. It's just a little war that we lost, but the battle is still there."

A team source has confirmed that Ted Musgrave will drive the No. 13 FirstPlus Financial Ford Taurus when the NASCAR Winston Cup Series visits Dover Downs International Speedway for the Sept. 20 MBNA Gold 400. The source also said that there is a possibility that Musgrave could drive more races on the larger tracks throughout the remainder of the 1998 schedule, such as Charlotte, Talladega, Daytona and Atlanta. Musgrave finished 43rd in Sunday's race after the No. 15 Rescue Engine Formula Ford, owned by Bud Moore, developed engine problems. In addition, when Musgrave emerged from the car on Sunday, he said that he had talked to Buz McCall, owner of the No. 96 Caterpillar Chevrolet, about the possibility of him driving that car in this Saturday's Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Dennis Setzer, who has filled the seat of the No. 13 FirstPlus Financial Ford the past few weeks, is the confirmed driver of the car for next Saturday's Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 at Richmond International Raceway, and will also drive the car at Martinsville on Sept. 27 in the NAPA Autocare 500.

Mike Skinner, driver of the No. 31 Lowe's Home Improvement Chevrolet, had to be relieved two-thirds of the way through the race due to illness. One of the five drivers eligible for the Winston "No Bull Five" $1 million bonus, Skinner was relieved by Morgan Shepherd. Shepherd, who failed to make the race in the No. 91 Little Joe's Auto Chevrolet, brought the car home in 26th place. "All of a sudden I got real sick to my stomach," Skinner said. "I think I had carbon monoxide poisoning. I guess we must have crushed the panel on it because I kept getting sicker and sicker. I'm fine now, but I knew as hot as it was I might pass out. Morgan drove the rest of the race and did a good job. It was disappointing today. We made a lot of changes this morning and hoped we went the right way. Obviously, we didn't."

With his victory Sunday, Gordon will once again be eligible for the Winston "No Bull 5" $1 million bonus in October in the Winston 500 at Talladega. The other drivers who finished in the top-five Sunday and so will be eligible for the prize at Talladega are Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett, Dale Earnhardt and Jeremy Mayfield.

Besides Gordon and Skinner, only one of the other three drivers eligible for the million dollars fared well on Sunday, and that was Earnhardt. The seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion finished fourth. Bobby Labonte finished 15th -- five laps down to Gordon, while Martin, limped home 40th.

Geoff Bodine came up with a rare top-10 performance on Sunday in his No. 7 Philips Consumer Products Ford. Bodine finished ninth, only his third top-10 of the season. "We had a great car," Bodine said. "This is our first real race car we've had all year. We really thought it would help us and it did. We had a great run going, but just had one bad run. This is a big improvement from what we've been doing, so if we can run here and finish good here, that means we can run good everywhere."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Jeremy Mayfield , Mike Skinner , Ted Musgrave , Dennis Setzer , Morgan Shepherd , Buz McCall , Mark Martin