Daytona Notebook

Daytona 500 Notebook By John Crowley NASCAR Online DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 1998) Notes from Sunday's 40th Annual Daytona 500 from Daytona International Speedway: A race that had little cause for caution flags on the track ...

Daytona 500 Notebook By John Crowley NASCAR Online

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 1998)

Notes from Sunday's 40th Annual Daytona 500 from Daytona International Speedway:

A race that had little cause for caution flags on the track instead reserved its major skirmish for pit lane. Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin, Geoff Bodine, Jeff Burton and Derrike Cope were all the worse for wear after the second pit stop of the day.

Everyone had their own version of the events. The only thing everyone agreed upon is that it was unfortunate.

"I don't really know what happened" Dale Jarrett said, clearly agitated by the 34th-place finish. "I was going out of the pits and somebody came by on the outside and hit the right front. Maybe it was my fault, I don't know, but it got me turned around and messed the car up, and that was the end of the day."

Jarrett's right-front fender was torn, and taped, and his No. 88 Ford Taurus was never able to stay with the draft after the incident.

His crew chief, Todd Parrott, said he felt responsible. "I was just getting ready to cue my (microphone) and tell him to 'watch that car pullin' out in front of you,' and I never saw the 7 car coming. The same thing happened to us sort of ... at Phoenix last year. I feel like it was my fault."

Said Bodine: "I was coming in and (Jarrett) was trying to get it out of the crowd that had just come in. I think, and I don't know what, but he swerved and just pulled right into the side of me. He didn't do it on purpose, obviously. It's just a mistake and those things happen on pit road. Obviously, I wish it hadn't have happened."

Now that Dale Earnhardt has won the Daytona 500, Terry Labonte - who has yet to win in 20 Daytona 500s - and Rusty Wallace now 0-for-16, are the new recipients of the "When Will You ... ?" questions.

Wallace, for one, doesn't plan on waiting around for the monkey on his back to turn into a gorilla.

"I just gave (Earnhardt) a good ol' thumbs up because I know he has been wanting it a long time," said Wallace, whose fifth-place finish was worth $232,005. "Next year it's my turn."

Forty-two drivers were left explaining the reasons why they didn't win on Sunday. Many of the excuses, no doubt, rang hollow. Not so for Derrike Cope, whose No. 30 Pontiac was as strong as any car, until the five-car pit lane accident left him with damage that dramatically slowed the Gumout Grand Prix.

"Like usual, I had a good opportunity to be there at the end and race these guys, and it was doused early," said the 1990 Daytona 500 champion. "... We had a great race car. The weather turned sunny for a bit and we got loose. We were getting ready to tighten the car up, and we would have had a great shot to win the race. We had as much as Earnhardt, that's for sure."

For all intents and purposes, Mark Martin's day ended on lap 126, when he damaged the rear end housing and drive shaft during what appeared to be a routine pit stop.

A trail of rear-end grease followed the car behind the wall, where the crew, led by chief Jimmy Fennig, proceeded to replace both parts in a little less than 10 minutes.

Martin was in seventh when the incident occurred. He returned to the track 15 laps down, eventually finishing 38th, 13 laps back of the leader. Afterward, he remained stoic about his inability to win the Daytona 500.

"There's just not any reason or explanation - it's just bad luck," Martin said.

Kenny Irwin, who crashed in his Gatorade Twin 125-Mile Qualifier on Thursday, had the best run of any Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate.

He finished 19th after starting 38th. One other first year driver also fared well; Jerry Nadeau was 21st. The other two first-year challengers, struggled. Kevin Lepage's No. 91 was the first car sidelined, after it developed engine problems.

"It kind of went like the week went, up and down. We started out real good. I felt good about how we moved up quite a bit. ... I got to race with a lot of guys today and I understand now how some guys race and how others don't. And I learned a little more about what I need to do to race against them."

Courtesy of NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Derrike Cope , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Kevin Lepage , Jerry Nadeau , Mark Martin