"No Bull 5" bonus goes unclaimed at Daytona Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 1998) Both Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte had huge incentives during the last lap of Sunday's Daytona 500. For Earnhardt, it was...
"No Bull 5" bonus goes unclaimed at Daytona
Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 15, 1998)
Both Dale Earnhardt and Bobby Labonte had huge incentives during the last lap of Sunday's Daytona 500.
For Earnhardt, it was a chance to get a 20-year weight off his back. For Labonte, it was a $2 million payday.
In the end, Earnhardt's yearning for history proved to be the deciding factor, holding off Labonte in the final 2.5 miles and keeping Labonte from claiming the first Winston "No Bull 5" million dollar prize.
"I don't know what would have happened with another lap," Labonte said. "We had a good run going. We kept shooting through cars there at the end. It was super fast. I got to Earnhardt and he was running about the same speed. I've got to congratulate him. I had a feeling all winter he was going to win it. I guess I should have bet on him."
With his second-place finish, Labonte will once again be eligible for the Winston "No Bull 5," million at the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May. Ken Schrader, who had also had an opportunity to win the $1 million award on Sunday, will get another shot at Charlotte by finishing fourth in the Daytona 500.
Labonte started Sunday's race from the pole and led the first 14 laps. He led twice for 22 laps, but got hung up in a huge pack of cars midway through the event.
He eventually made his way back up through to the top five, and passed Jeremy Mayfield for second in the final laps. He tried to make a run on Earnhardt, but Earnhardt's will to win his first Daytona 500 was too strong.
"This Interstate Batteries Pontiac ran good and we got hung up with about five to go, and I thought, 'Well, we can pretty well write ourselves off here.'" Labonte said. "I got cleared of Ernie (Irvan) and kept coming on strong and passing cars.
"I guess Gordon had a problem and that kind of slowed the bottom line down a bit. I don't know if one lap would have made much of a difference. It was a good way to finish second and a great way to start off the season."
Schrader had one of the strongest runs of the historic afternoon. After a crash in Thursday's Gatorade 125 qualifying race that left him with a broken sternum, he was forced to go to a backup car and started the day from the 36th position.
He quickly made his way through the field and was 16th after just 31 laps. He was second on lap 140 behind Earnhardt and made several attempts to pass, but to no avail. The driver of the No. 33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet eventually finished fourth.
"We didn't get the million, but we've got a shot at Charlotte now, don't we?" Schrader asked after the race. "The car was good. I just kind of hung there and ended up fourth. I betcha we have a teammate next year. I could have used one there at the end. This is the car that got us into the Winston 'No Bull Five' Program. We won't use this car at Charlotte, but I imagine she'll surface at Talladega."
Ernie Irvan was the only other driver with a legitimate shot at the Winston "No Bull 5" million. Irvan ran up front for most of the day, but wound up finishing sixth in his first race in the No. 36 Skittles Pontiac.
"We had a good car. Everybody on this MB2 team did a good job," Irvan said. "I said all week if we were put in the right position we could win the race. If we weren't in a good position, we were going to run wherever. It's a solid run."
The other two drivers eligible for the Winston "No Bull 5," Terry Labonte and John Andretti, struggled Sunday. Labonte, who started in the front row alongside his brother Bobby, finished 13th, while Andretti got involved in a couple of late-race spins and wound up 18th.
"The car was too loose early and I couldn't hang onto it," Terry Labonte said. "It didn't seem to matter if we were running in traffic or all alone. We were lucky to hang on and finish on the lead lap. I thought our car was better than a 13th-place car, but we just never got a chance to show it today."
"We were lucky in a lot of ways and unlucky in some ways," Andretti said. "I think we had a chance to finish in the top-10, and that's what I expected for this race. You sit here and you're disappointed, but all in all, you can't look a gift horse in the mouth, either. It could have been much worse."
Earnhardt, Jeremy Mayfield and Rusty Wallace will all be eligible for the next Winston "No Bull 5" payout at Charlotte. Mayfield garnered the best finish of his career, third, and Wallace wound up finishing fifth Sunday.
Courtesy of NASCAR Online