Martinsville Sunday Notebook

Goody's Body Pain 500 Sunday Notebook By Dave Rodman MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 18, 1999) Notes and quotes following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Goody's Body Pain 500 at Martinsville Speedway: McDonald's officials moved Sunday morning to...

Goody's Body Pain 500 Sunday Notebook By Dave Rodman

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 18, 1999) Notes and quotes following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Goody's Body Pain 500 at Martinsville Speedway:

McDonald's officials moved Sunday morning to dispel rumors that the company would not sponsor Bill Elliott Racing's No. 94 Ford Taurus in 2000.

"Contrary to unfounded reports, McDonald's is committed to Bill Elliott Racing with its current sponsorship agreement through the year 2000," said Bill Korbus, McDonald's motorsports manager.

JEFF GORDON What irony! Third-place finisher Jeff Gordon -- whose win at Michigan due to efficient and timely tire management prompted the infamous "tiregate" confrontations in 1998 with team owner Jack Roush -- was absolutely beside himself in the media center. John Andretti won the race largely because a two-tire strategy on a late pit stop.

"Did he take two tires?" Gordon quizzed a media member after arriving for the post-race interviews. "No way he took two tires!"

Then, when 2nd-place man Jeff Burton -- who drives for Roush -- arrived, Gordon didn't let up, saying "how about getting beat by two tires on a short run, huh?"

Andretti was fated not to escape post-race questions regarding the close scrutiny his engine had received the week before at Bristol. The first question posed to him on his arrival in the press box regarded concerns about his race-winning powerplant.

"If this one doesn't breeze through (inspection), I'm coming to the engine room with a machine gun on Monday," Andretti quipped.

Andretti wasn't the only Petty Enterprises driver celebrating. Teammate Kyle Petty book-ended the STP Pontiac's winning run with a solid 10th place effort.

"It's great -- Petty Enterprises is back in Victory Lane," said the driver of the Hot Wheels Pontiac. "It's a big shot in the arm for all the guys. All of them get bonuses tomorrow because we both finished in the top-10, so everyone will be pumped up."

It was actually the second week in a row for that, after Andretti was 4th and Petty 8th at Bristol in the Food City 500.

JEFF BURTON Burton continued to lead the point standings, not surprisingly, on the strength of six top-5 finishes in the first eight races -- the only competitor who's been able to compile that stat. The No. 99 Ford has finished 7th or better in seven straight races. And Burton is focused, but not specifically on the point race.

"We want to win races," Burton said bluntly after the race. "We're not going to get caught up in this point racing thing. A champion needs to win races, and we put ourselves in position to win today."

Dale Earnhardt's uneven gait through the 1999 season continued Sunday as he took a provisional start and finished 19th. Earnhardt has posted just one victory in his last 100 races -- the 1998 Daytona 500. The seven-time series champion has not led a race in 1999. The last time he led a lap in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race was at North Carolina Speedway in November 1998.

Andretti was a regular Rodney Dangerfield in the press box following his victory at Martinsville. He had plenty of ammunition after getting spun out early in the race by an unnamed party -- who happened to be Ward Burton.

Asked about the cause of the spin, Andretti cracked a grin and said, "Somebody's front bumper lifted my rear wheels off the ground. That was unfortunate, but that's short-track racing. I was seeing red for a while -- about 200 laps -- before I calmed down."

Andretti was asked again about the incident and didn't miss a beat when he shot back, "I was wondering if I could get off like O.J. did - when 60,000 people saw me kill the guy who spun me out."

Derrike Cope was ecstatic to make the Goody's 500 in the Jimmy Dean Pontiac, but the team's spirits paled after the race when Cope became unconscious in the garage area. Medical attention and oxygen quickly revived Cope, who faded to 34th on account of his difficulty breathing.

"I fought it all day long, I just battled it as much as I could," Cope said. "Towards the end of the race, I don't know what the problem was but I was having trouble breathing. We didn't have any crush panel problems, so I don't know if we had a problem getting air into the car or what. I'm exhausted and I can't wait to get home and rest."

Two celebrants in Sunday's race had days they would just as soon forget. Ernie Irvan started his 300th NASCAR Winston Cup Series race in the M&M's Pontiac but finished 22nd after getting caught in a wreck. Geoffrey Bodine was celebrating his 50th birthday but battled through several incidents and ended up 38th.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Jeff Burton , Derrike Cope , Bill Elliott , Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Geoffrey Bodine , Kyle Petty , Jack Roush