Pocono post race quotes/news

NASCARFans E-Mail List It was Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon out front for most of Sunday in the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway Sunday. But even though Jarrett and Gordon finished first and second, a tide rising behind them -- in the form of...

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It was Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon out front for most of Sunday in the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway Sunday. But even though Jarrett and Gordon finished first and second, a tide rising behind them -- in the form of the Roush Racing team -- may ultimately wash away their 1997 Winston Cup title chances. Jarrett led 108 of the 200 laps around the 2.5-mile Pocono track, holding off Gordon over the last 21 laps to win by 2.99 seconds. Jarrett, in a Ford Thunderbird stock car, took the lead for good on the 180th lap when he passed Jeff Burton's Thunderbird in the second of the three turns of the triangular speedway. Gordon, in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo, got by Burton two laps later in the same turn. Jarrett, a 40-year-old racer from Hickory, N.C., won $104,570. ``I had an awesome race car, with a really strong engine,'' Jarrett said. ``Even when I did mess up on the race track or the car was a little tight, it would still get down the straightaway. We hit on something in practice yesterday afternoon and the car really ran well after that.'' For an extra boost, inside his car was a cross that was found Saturday by his crew. ``We figured we would use everything in everybody's power to win,'' Jarrett said. It may take divine intervention to ward off one team in particular. The next three finishers behind Jarrett and Gordon -- Burton, Ted Musgrave and Mark Martin, in that order -- each drove Ford Thunderbirds for Roush Racing. Considering how well the Roush cars usually run in the second half of the Winston Cup season, Jarrett and Gordon might want to savor Sunday's results as much as possible. (charlotte.com)

``In 31 years of racing, I don't remember a weekend this tough,'' said Dave Marcis, who finished 41st. ``We wrecked Friday, then lost an engine Saturday and another one today. It's probably one of the worst weekends I've had in my career.'' (charlotte.com)

``We checked our fuel mileage and we thought we could run 40 laps. We felt like if we pitted at 40, 80, 120 and 160, then we'd be all right. If the green had stayed out, we would have ended up winning the race. But if you had ifs and buts and candy and nuts, you'd have a Merry Christmas, and it wasn't a Merry Christmas for me.'' -- Jimmy Spencer, who finished seventh. (charlotte.com)

"I feel like we finished second with a fifth-place car," Gordon crew chief Ray Evernham said.

Jeff Gordon has led at least one lap in 14 of 18 races this year.

Dale Jarrett has a special place in his heart for Pocono International Raceway, with good reason. "This was a great place for me in '95," he said. "When I really needed something good to happen, I won here." Jarrett, who resurrected his career with a surprising victory here two ago, won his latest duel with Jeff Gordon on Sunday in the Pennsylvania 500. "This a great place to be when you've got a good car, and we had that today," he said. (ESPN SportsZone)

''I just got under the 4 car (Sterling Marlin's), and he might not have seen me,'' Ernie Irvan said. ''We bumped, and I went up into the wall. . . . It's a shame, because we had a good car.'' (GVA)

''It's just one of them d*** deals,'' Dale Earnhardt, who finished 12th, said. ''We were going good, consistent. We weren't really a ball of fire. We weren't that bad or that good. We were just there all day. We lost some momentum I think.'' Added crew chief Larry McReynolds, as he shook his head in disgust: ''That's the thing about this sport. You can be up today and down in the gutter tomorrow.'' (GVA)

Defending champion Rusty Wallace came up with one of the biggest charges of the day after starting 39th with a provisional spot. Halfway through, though, he'd managed to work his way to eighth and was confident he had the car to achieve at least a top-five finish. ''But it didn't happen,'' said Wallace, who came in 37th after his car died 26 laps from the finish. '' . . . We were knocking 'em off left and right and going great, then right there at the end we lost an engine. I don't know what happened. I just shut off. That's racing, I guess.'' (GVA)

Jeff Burton may have won last weekend's Jiffy Lube 300, but he's not the driver who starred in much of the footage broadcast by ESPN about the New Hampshire race. Instead, what you saw over and over again was the arms-flailing, finger-pointing, screaming tirade of John Andretti as he charged up to Jeremy Mayfield's car after the race. Mayfield's car had all but stalled on the track, causing Andretti to slow and then get taken out by Ricky Craven, turning a probable top-10 showing into a 14th-place finish -- not to mention the loss of his car. Andretti sheepishly acknowledged he was well aware his antics had caught the fancy of ESPN producers. ''They've got to have teasers, so I guess we gave them one,'' Andretti said with a small smile as he shook his head. ''Whether or not we're proud of it, that's a different story.'' (GVA)

When they stopped to help a broken-down motorist earlier this week on Interstate 80, Pennsylvania residents Ken and Chris Demko quickly realized the driver in need was one Jeff Gordon, in town for practice runs on the Pocono track. According to the Hazleton Standard-Speaker newspaper, the brothers gave him a lift to a nearby truck stop, and Gordon gave them garage, pit and press box passes to tomorrow's race. (GVA)

Mike Irwin (mike@nascarfans.com) NASCAR Fans _______________________________________ NASCAR Fans Website http://www.nascarfans.com

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Jeremy Mayfield , Rusty Wallace , Jimmy Spencer , Sterling Marlin , Ted Musgrave , Ricky Craven , Dave Marcis , Ray Evernham , Mark Martin