Dover notes

Dover track bruises nearly everybody but Wallace Roanoke Times & World News June 6, 1994 by Bob Zeller DOVER, Del. -- Rusty Wallace and Ernie Irvan had the race all to themselves Sunday at Dover Downs International Speedway, oblivious to...

Dover track bruises nearly everybody but Wallace

Roanoke Times & World News June 6, 1994 by Bob Zeller

DOVER, Del. -- Rusty Wallace and Ernie Irvan had the race all to themselves Sunday at Dover Downs International Speedway, oblivious to the tire blowouts, crashes, feuding and fighting that went on around them in the 5-hour ordeal known as the Budweiser 500. And before Wallace pulled away to a victory of .34 seconds over Irvan, they actually battled for a few laps, trading places and racing side-by-side as everybody else behind them struggled just to finish. "I tell you, I can usually sit here and tell you I had a lot of close calls at Dover, but today it was just smooth," Wallace said. Although Irvan led more laps -- 313 to 150 -- Wallace was in front for the final 35 circuits on the 1-mile oval. His victory made it an all-Wallace weekend at Dover. Younger brother Mike, who finished 13th in Sunday's race, won the Goodwrench 200 Grand National race Saturday. Behind Wallace and Irvan came Ken Schrader, followed by Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon, the only other drivers on the lead lap. As Wallace celebrated in victory lane, tempers exploded in the garage. Morgan Shepherd went after Brett Bodine and a brief but nasty brawl erupted as crewmen from both teams intervened. Bobby Labonte was furious with John Andretti. Kyle Petty hopped into his father's hauler to holler to Wally Dallenbach and threw down his can of Mello-Yello as he departed. The ugliest episode was between Shepherd and Bodine. They first collided on lap 198, which sent Bodine into the turn 4 wall. More than an hour later, on lap 445, Shepherd slammed hard into the turn 4 wall after colliding with Bodine. NASCAR officials penalized Bodine five laps. Shepherd said the first incident was a racing accident -- Bodine said no way -- but that the second was deliberate. "These cars are going too fast to deliberately try to get somebody hurt," Shepherd said. After the race, Shepherd went after Bodine, but before he got to him, Bodine's crew chief, Donnie Richeson, blocked his path. Fists flew and a huge scuffle erupted as crewmen from both teams converged. Things began to settle down a few seconds later as the two drivers became separated by Darrell Waltrip's car, but Shepherd yelled at Bodine, which prompted Bodine to scream at Shepherd. "And you haven't got me before?" Bodine shouted. "What about Martinsville? How many times have you wrecked me before? I'm sure it's OK when you do it!" Winston Cup Director Gary Nelson said he would gather more information about the incident before deciding if any further action is warranted. Even drivers who didn't have any scores to settle were unhappy after this grind. After driving a clean race and advancing from his 32nd-starting spot to finish fourth, this is what Mark Martin had to say: "I never raced for position once. It's pathetic. I just ran to finish. It's a disgrace to NASCAR, this racing surface. Pitiful. That's the longest I've ever been scared in my life. The tires were trying to hurt somebody. The track's pitiful. It's the surface. You can't build a tire that will hold up here." Although the track will be resurfaced with concrete through the turns, that won't happen until after the fall race here. "It's a welcome [resurfacing]," Wallace said. "I've always been pretty vocal about the race track and the length of the race, but to me it didn't have much effect on the outcome of the race. I didn't have any problems. I knew the track was going to be a real tight race track and it was going to be rough on tires. And so I was ready for it." Irvan was not at all displeased with his second-place finish, which expanded his Winston Cup championship lead over Dale Earnhardt to 163 points. "Me and Rusty kind of raced the race track all day long," Irvan said, "and he just got a little better than us at the end. I don't know if I've ever had a good run at Dover. I usually screw up or something. So I was having to be careful on that." Earnhardt was the most notable victim of the long afternoon. He blew a tire going into turn 3 on lap 288 and hit the wall. While his car was hauled to the garage, he limped into the infield care center. He eventually completed 425 laps, finishing 28th. Earnhardt, who was sore but otherwise unhurt, said the tire "felt like it was going down, and I backed off. I didn't think I was going that hard and about that time, it blew out." Dick Trickle also blew a tire and hit the wall. Dave Marcis blew a tire, which led to a crash with Ted Musgrave that left the latter battered and sore. And at the same time Musgrave was hitting the first-turn wall, Bobby Hamilton was blowing a tire and hitting the wall in turn 3. All of the blowouts were right front Goodyear tires. Many other cars had right-rear tires chipping and separating at the shoulder, but no right-rear tires blew.

Lee Wolfle                                     \____/      \_____     ^         ^        /       #3        \
 WOLFLE at VTVM1                  ^    ^       ( ) --------- ( ) |>

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Brett Bodine , Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Ernie Irvan , Darrell Waltrip , Dick Trickle , Rusty Wallace , Kyle Petty , Ken Schrader , Ted Musgrave , Dave Marcis , Morgan Shepherd , Mark Martin