Henry's Loudon rumblings 97--09-14

RUMBLINGS -- NEW HAMPSHIRE What looked to be a smooth, quick race for the first 2 hours today turned into carnage for the last 100 laps. But it seems like no matter what happens, the result stays the same....Jeff Gordon...


What looked to be a smooth, quick race for the first 2 hours today turned into carnage for the last 100 laps. But it seems like no matter what happens, the result stays the same....Jeff Gordon wins again. This was victory #10 on the season (the second year in a row he's hit double digits), and the 29th of his career putting him in sole possession of 17th place on the all-time list. He's now just 4 victories shy of the immortal Fireball Roberts.

The word dynasty shouldn't be thrown around lightly, but Gordon has won 13 of the last 32 races...that's a batting average of .406. That's a number that's just as impressive in this sport as it is in baseball.

Gordon's purse of $188K included the Winston Winner Bonus of $20K. The Unocal money went unclaimed again...it'll be worth $114,000 next week at Dover Downs. That contingency hasn't been cashed since "you know who" pulled it down at the 10th race of the season at Charlotte in May.

Speaking of purse money...it was certainly nice to see this race with posted awards of almost $2.2 Million. With the increase in the schedule, it's gonna be real tough on more than a couple of teams. As an example, Bobby Hamilton won almost $85K today for his 3rd place effort...last season he only won $95K for winning the race at Phoenix. The #78 team (Gary Bradberry) won $23K today...that's about $10K more than the norm. For a team that's struggling to keep up, every dollar counts.

Just to contrast...2 weeks ago at Darlington for the Southern 500, the posted awards were only $1.5M....and 3rd place was worth $40K less than today. What's wrong with this picture????

Hey, we almost had a short-track race break out the last hour!!! Where'd that come from? (G)

We love to hear those engines, TNN....but for most of today's race that was all we could hear. Even when Buddy, Eli, & Dick were talking from up in the booth, it was almost impossible to hear what they were saying. Now maybe I'm wierd (I do use my stopwatch from my couch) but, that's where I draw the line...I'm not gonna use my earplugs, too (G).

Bobby Hamilton had his best run today since Martinsville in April. He hadn't finished any higher than 17th in the 16 races since that event.

Hut Stricklin (10th) had his best finish since Darlington in September of last year.

STREAKIN...Jeff Gordon has 7 Top-5's in the last 8 races. Dale Jarrett has 11 Top-10's in the last 13 races. Mark Martin has 17 Top-10's in the last 19 races.

Hut's first Top-10 of the season now brings us to 39 different drivers who've scored a 10th or better this year....that surpasses last years total of 38.

Rick Mast led today for the first time since Sears Point in May of '96. He's the 41st different driver to lead a lap this season...last years number was 45.

This weeks elevator...UP: Operator of the week is Ernie Irvan (+38), Jeff Burton/Todd Bodine (+25), and Dale Earnhardt (+22). DOWN: The big dropper was the pole sitter, Ken Schrader (-36), Mike Skinner (-31), Brett Bodine (-30), Wally Dallenbach (-23), and David Green (-22).

The team of Jack Roush/Jeff Burton has gotta be happy with the job Todd Bodine for them....14th place and he seemed to be able to dodge every wreck. Combine that effort with Terry Labonte's problems, and they've opened some daylight in the battle for 4th in the points.

We can finally put up our first "magic number" of the season. The number is "2". If Jeff Gordon runs 2nd for the remaining 7 races of the season, Mark Martin can't catch him. We expect that number to change (G). FWIW, all drivers 19th and below in the standings are now mathematically eliminated from the title chase.

The only multiple position movers in the points this week were Sterling Marlin (22nd to 26th....can this season end soon enough for that team?), Michael Waltrip (15th to 17th), and on the plus side, Steve Grissom (24th to 22nd) and Geoff Bodine (26th to 24th).

Next week it's back to the White Banks of Dover, and a shortened 400 lap event. Betcha that'll feel like a walk in the park compared to the previous length. Let's just hope that all the action & drama that occured there in June in the final 100 miles aren't removed along with those laps.

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

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Brett Bodine , Jeff Burton , Wally Dallenbach Sr. , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Michael Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Ken Schrader , Hut Stricklin , David Green , Rick Mast , Steve Grissom , Jack Roush , Mark Martin