By Ken Plotkin and David Reininger - Motorsport.com Indianapolis, IN, Aug 5, 2000 - Bobby Labonte won the seventh running of the Brickyard 400 at a record speed of 155.918 mph, beating Rusty Wallace in a wheel-to-wheel duel that left the rest...
By Ken Plotkin and David Reininger - Motorsport.com
Indianapolis, IN, Aug 5, 2000 - Bobby Labonte won the seventh running of the Brickyard 400 at a record speed of 155.918 mph, beating Rusty Wallace in a wheel-to-wheel duel that left the rest of the field trailing behind. Labonte's final margin of 4.2 seconds was the biggest gap between the two for the over 60 laps that they occupied first and second place. For most of the final quarter of the race, after final pit stops, the pair was tenths of a second apart and at least five seconds ahead of the next runner. It looked like Wallace was going to win, as Labonte tried looking underneath several times but could not get it done. Finally, on lap 146, Bobby set up on the inside at the end of the backstretch getting underneath in the north chute. They ran side by side down the front straight, touching fenders once, with Bobby finally clearing into the lead in Turn 1. Over the final fourteen laps Bobby extended his lead while Rusty battled with a car that was just a little too tight.
"To beat a great driver like Rusty Wallace, it's awesome," said Labonte in Victory Lane. "I've been close here, and it just came up this time. Rusty Wallace put up a great fight. I was better than him in Turn 2, and I could get by him. This is one of those races that you dream about. I've dreamed about it a long time. Tony Stewart, I'll remember that when I kiss those bricks they're Hoosier bricks."
"It's definitely a thrill. We've been close a couple of times. The car worked great all day. The only time we got below fifth was when we pitted and took four tires when the other guys took two. The car was flawless. We only adjusted air pressure all day." On his final pass of Wallace, he said "It's so hard to pass here. I was puckered up on that one because when we got to Turn 1 I wasn't sure what was going to happen."
Rusty Wallace, who led 110 of the 160 laps, was disappointed with second. "I wanted to win this thing so bad for Roger, not really for myself, but for Roger. We almost won this thing three or four years ago...led all day long and finished second. Here we do it again. The Brickyard has been really good to me. I just have to bring the thing home." About the final pass, he said "That last set of tires was just too tight. Bobby caught me, got around me and I just couldn't do nothing with him at that point, but we had a great car all day long. Man it was flying."
Bill Elliott finished third after a solid run. "I was just happy to finish. We've had so much tragedy with this McDonald's team the last six to eight weeks. From our standpoint, it was a good day, and I think we can take this and turn this into turning around the second half of the season." Bill was never a factor in the Labonte-Wallace duel. "I never did see them. I knew they were up there somewhere. You can catch up, but once you get up there it still takes a lot of laps to pass. It's a tough track. We needed this for morale. We felt like we have a good race team. We've accomplished a lot."
Jerry Nadeau is on a hot streak. His fourth place finish today is his third top-ten finish of the 2000 season, all of which have come in the last five races. Nadeau tied his career best Winston Cup finish this afternoon, equaling the mark set just two races ago at New Hampshire.
"The guys did an awesome job today," said Nadeau, who has jumped four positions in the point standings in the last three races, from 29th to 25th. "We had the best pit crew today. They couldn't do anything wrong."
"We ran great all day. We were just tight. We made several adjustments to loosen it up. We were good when we were by ourselves, but when I got around other cars, we got tight. Later in the day, the track got tight too, and in traffic, I couldn't do anything."
"It would have been real nice to win the race, but we brought it home in one piece and got a top-five finish. I can't think of a better place to get a top-five finish right now."
Bobby Labonte's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Tony Stewart started 18th and finished fifth. Stewart, who picked up six positions on the first lap, settled into the top-ten by lap ten. "I have to give credit to Ward Burton," said Stewart. "At the start, he went to the outside and I followed him. We got around six guys on the first lap or two."
While Stewart ran in the top-ten for most of the race, he never challenged the leaders. "I had a good car, but I couldn't run with the top two guys out there. We weren't as fast as they were. That's all there was to it."
"About the last 20 or 25 laps we were pretty much locked into our spot. As long as I didn't kill the race car and kill the tires we were pretty much going to fish where we were at. We couldn't gain on anybody in front and we weren't going to lose anything to anybody behind us. We basically just stayed in there and at that point I was just asking for updates as to where Bobby(Labonte) was."
"I'm real happy. We had a fifth-place car and finished fifth today."
Jeff Burton stormed from his 33rd starting position to finished sixth, earning the Exide Batteries "All Charged Up" Award. "We ran better in practice and just never had the car fast today," Burton said. "The car was good in practice and in testing, but the race was a whole another matter. We never got a handle on the handling, but we did the best we could."
"Sixth isn't bad. Starting position hurt us today, because there weren't any cautions. But, at the same time, if you're going to start back there, you got to be tough and get what you can get."
Pole sitter Ricky Rudd started off strong, leading the first seventeen laps, but faded as the race wore on. "We just had problems today. The car just got too tight and that wasn't too bad, but we made a choice to put on two tires and that was a bad decision. Then we ended up pitting at the end for fuel. It just wasn't our day." He finished 21st, one lap down.
On Thursday, Darrell Waltrip said "I don't have to win; I don't have to be on the pole. As long as you can leave here this weekend and say 'Old DW was up there,' that's all that matters to me." He was there today, finishing a solid eleventh, on the lead lap. "I couldn't have done any better. It was a great weekend and people will remember that this was DW's last race and that all that matters."
Scott Pruett finished tenth, the highest finishing rookie today and the first time he has been the highest rookie in any Winston Cup race. This also matches the highest finish he had on this track in the Indianapolis 500. "It was awesome. I've been telling everybody that we've been gaining a lot of momentum but the results just didn't show it. We had a great run at Pocono, we had a great run at Sears. The Tide team has been making huge leaps and gains. We needed one element. Brad Parrott came on board. We had a lot of momentum, a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of excitement, and I think Brad was able to bring that all together and really focus it.
The race was slowed only twice by cautions. The first came on lap 17, when Mark Martin, with Mike Skinner close behind, went into Turn 1 under Michael Waltrip. He checked up, was contacted by Waltrip, and wound up in the wall. He was out of the race, but unhurt. "We were just running along there. Michael Waltrip was having trouble getting through the corners and I was just trying to be real careful. I got on the inside of him and Skinner was trying to help me draft by him when we had to check up for the corner...I was trying to be careful...it was an accident."
Rick Mast and Jeff Gordon were caught in the melee, sustained some damage, but were able to continue.
The second yellow came on lap 43, when a cut right front tire in Turn 3 put John Andretti into the wall. Andretti was not hurt, and no other cars were involved.
The NASCAR Winston Cup Series returns to road racing action in one week at the famous Watkins Glen circuit in upstate New York. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host the United States Grand Prix, the inaugural race on the Speedway's road course, on September 24.