RUMBLINGS -- ROCKINGHAM

RUMBLINGS -- ROCKINGHAM Well, everybody thought a Pontiac would win, but I'll betcha not many thought it would be _that_ one! One year to the day since Bobby Hamilton gave the Wooden Indian its last victory, he parked that ...

RUMBLINGS -- ROCKINGHAM

Well, everybody thought a Pontiac would win, but I'll betcha not many thought it would be _that_ one! One year to the day since Bobby Hamilton gave the Wooden Indian its last victory, he parked that #43 in Victory Lane for the second time in his career. He's now tied for 76th on the all-time win list.

Bobby's $89,150 winners share also included the $10,000 Halfway money from Gatorade. The Unocal Challenge will roll over to $38,000 next week at Phoenix, and the Winston Leader Bonus would be worth $50,000 to the winner if they also lead the points after PIR. We're getting close to the end of the season....if that award goes unclaimed thru Atlanta, the $60K would be disbursed with the Winston Point Fund money at New York to the Top-10 in points.

Hamilton's win today proved that the term "lame duck" doesn't mean "laid down". In this day of high-priced & pampered athletes in other sports, it was refreshing to see a team still able to work together after a change has been announced. You can't burn any bridges....in life or in sport.

Dale Jarrett has an amazing streak going at The Rock. 4 runner-up finishes in a row. I'll hafta check my database...if that's not a record, it's certainly above average.

Ricky Craven (3rd) had his best run today since the Daytona 500.

Sterling Marlin (9th) got his first Top-10 finish since the Pepsi 400 at Daytona in July.

Robert Pressley (13th) had his best finish since July of '96 at Loudon, and gave the #77 Jasper Engines team their best finish since Dover in September of '96.

STREAKIN....Jeff Gordon has 7 Top-10 finishes in the last 8 races. Dale Earnhardt has 5 Top-10 finishes in the last 6 races.

This weeks Elevator....UP: A tie for Operator of the week between Terry Labonte (+26) & Sterling Marlin (+26), and Bobby Hamilton (+21). DOWN: Also a tie for the Big Dropper between Jeff Burton (-27) & Ricky Rudd (-27), Ward Burton (-22), and Rick Mast (-20).

With the 3 points principals finishing in the top 6 positions, the most important move of the week goes to the calendar. With only 2 races left, Jeff Gordon's magic number vs Mark Martin is 13, and vs Dale Jarrett it's 16. All other drivers have now been mathematically eliminated. If Gordon gains 26 points more than Martin next week and 6 points more than Jarrett, you can turn out the lights. All Gordon would have to do is start at Atlanta in that scenario. If he gains 60 points more than Mark & 40 points more than DJ, he clinches the championship this weekend.

The fight for the last spot on the stage at the Waldorf is still going hot & heavy. 10th to 14th in the points are now separated by 61 points. It looks like Ricky Rudd's run in the Top-10 will come to an end this year.....he's 128 points out of 10th.

The big point movers this week were Joe Nemechek (31st to 28th) and Jeremy Mayfield (13th to 11th). Two drivers lost 2 spots...Johnny Benson (12th to 14th) and Brett Bodine (26th to 28th).

Next week we head to the Valley of the Sun, where todays winner is the defending race champion. Don't forget to pack that snake repellant if you've got one of those hillside seats. (G)

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

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Brett Bodine , Jeff Burton , Ward Burton , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Dale Jarrett , Joe Nemechek , Sterling Marlin , Robert Pressley , Johnny Benson , Ricky Craven , Rick Mast , Mark Martin