Henry's Charlotte rumblings 97-10-05

RUMBLINGS -- CHARLOTTE Bobby Labonte may have looked invincible for most of the race, but Dale Jarrett had the best car when it counted today at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This was career win ...


Bobby Labonte may have looked invincible for most of the race, but Dale Jarrett had the best car when it counted today at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This was career win #14 for DJ, his 6th of 1997, and his 3rd at CMS. He's now tied with Dick Hutcherson & LeeRoy Yarbrough for 37th on the all-time WC win list. Of those 14 wins for Jarrett, 11 of them have come at the wheel of a Robert Yates Ford.

This was Robert Yates Racing's 5th victory at Charlotte....with 3 different drivers. The late Davey Allison won two here, Ernie one, and this was Jarrett's second victory for Yates on this track.

Have I mentioned yet that Tommy Lasorda is in the Hall of Fame?

Terry Labonte returned to the ranks of the competitive today. Was it the paint job or the shake-up?

Dale Earnhardt may be closing in on it. He's got 3 strong runs in a row, and with a plate race coming up next, this could be his best shot this season to end that streak.

Everybody's got something to say about the MIA incident of Darrell Waltrip....so I'm not gonna be bashful either. There's talk about NASCAR making sure former champs don't miss the race, but I don't know how much larger we can make some of these fields, especially when we go to the short tracks. DW wasn't fast enough Wednesday Night, but there's more than just speed to this story. There were 4 provisionals available even after Terry Labonte used the Champs Provisional.....but he wasn't able to get one of those, either. DW missed this race because of his poor finishes in the last 6 events. After Michigan in August, he was 15th in Owners Points....since then his finishes read 42, 26, 32, 32, 32, & 24. He was still 17th in Owners Points after Darlington. He was 21st coming into Charlotte, and the last 2 provisionals went to Bobby Hamilton & Ricky Craven....they're tied for (you guessed it) 17th in Owners Points on this weeks list. You knew it had to happen....we've seen it happen every time with every former champion. Course, that never makes it any easier to bear.

Rick Wilson had his best run today since the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July of 1993. That was the year of the #44 STP machine.

STREAKIN....Dale Jarrett has 7 Top-10's in the last 8 races. Jeff Gordon has 6 Top-10's in a row, and 10 Top-10's in the last 11 races.

Wouldn't you love to see Dick Trickle win a race before the NAPA 500 just to see what they'd do with that commercial?

Jeff Purvis led today for the first time this year, and so did Steve Grissom. We've now had 43 different drivers to lead a lap this season.....that number was 45 in 1996.

On the money front, the Unocal Bonus will be worth $22,800 next week, and the Winston Winner Bonus will carry a value of $40K if the 'Dega victor is also the points leader.

This week's elevator....UP: Operator of the week is Kyle Petty (+31), Terry Labonte (+28), Bill Elliott (+26), Jeff Burton (+23), and Bobby Hamilton (+20). DOWN: The big dropper (and you can't fall any further than this except in combo events) is Geoff Bodine (-42), Jimmy Spencer (-33), Jeff Purvis (-31), Kevin Lepage (-28), Wally Dallenbach (-21), and Derrike Cope (-20).

In the points race, Mark Martin gained only 10 points on Jeff Gordon this week....he's gotta hope to take a bigger bite than that. With the lead now at 125, Gordon's magic number now grows to 5. If he runs 5th every week, school is out.

We also lopped another one out of the points race. The top 6 in the standings are the only drivers with a mathematical (yet improbable) shot at the title. Realistically, it's still just a three man race.

There were 3 drivers to move up 2 spots in the points standings today. Ward Burton (22nd to 20th), Steve Grissom (24th to 22nd), and Joe Nemechek (32nd to 30th) all made the move up. The big droppers of the weekend were Darrell Waltrip (20th to 23rd) and Ricky Rudd (10th to 12th).

Next week we do something we've never done before. We go to Talladega in the Fall. When this schedule move was announced, there were more than a few pundits who felt putting the Diehard 500 up against football in a state like Alabama was certain death. Well, I've always been willing to buck the trend, so I'll go on record as saying this may become the most important race of _EVERY_ season. You put a plate race this late in the year in the middle of a points battle, at a place as spooky & scary as Talladega, then add in the possibility of it being the final leg of the Winston Million in the future....that's a recipe for success if I've ever seen one. Maybe 'Bama & Auburn should watch their scheduling, instead.

Henry Dubret (henry@nascarfans.com) NASCAR Fans _______________________________________ NASCAR Fans Website http://www.nascarfans.com

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Dale Jarrett , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Dick Trickle , Kyle Petty , Jimmy Spencer , Joe Nemechek , Kevin Lepage , Ricky Craven , Jeff Purvis , Dick Hutcherson , Steve Grissom , Robert Yates , Mark Martin , Davey Allison
Teams Yates Racing