BUSCH: Fontana Race Report

FONTANA, Calif. (July 19, 1998) Dale Earnhardt Jr. led virtually from start to finish en route to his fourth win of the season in today's NASCAR Busch Grand National Series' Kenwood Home and Car Audio 300 at the California Speedway. Earnhardt...

FONTANA, Calif. (July 19, 1998) Dale Earnhardt Jr. led virtually from start to finish en route to his fourth win of the season in today's NASCAR Busch Grand National Series' Kenwood Home and Car Audio 300 at the California Speedway. Earnhardt led for 141 of the 150 laps in his No. 3 AC Delco Chevrolet Monte Carlo. He regained the lead on lap 102, shortly after his final pit stop, and finished 6.760 seconds ahead of Kevin Lepage.

"This was as great race for us," Earnhardt said. "The car ran as good as it has all year. It was right up there with the car we had in Milwaukee."

Earnhardt's four wins have come in the last 13 races and he took the unofficial series points lead, moving six ahead of Matt Kenseth, who finished third. Mike McLaughlin led the standings entering the race but had mechanical problems and finished 24th. McLaughlin dropped more than 1 1/2 laps behind the leaders on lap 112 while his pit crew tried to tie down his hood, which was flapping.

McLaughlin dropped to third, 82 points behind Earnhardt, who now leads the NASCAR Busch Series in all nine major statistical categories. The only division he did not lead prior to this event was the points standings.

Phil Parsons was fourth and Pontiac Grand Prix driver David Green finished fifth, the only non-Chevrolet in the top five.

Lepage ran second for most of the last 90 laps. He temporarily lost control of his Monte Carlo and scraped the wall just out of turn four of lap 135. Lepage quickly regained control and was not challenged for second.

"That was pretty scary," Lepage said. "Time was running down and we were trying to catch up. For us to finish second, that's like a win to us today."

Green was involved in a harrowing sequence in the middle of the race. Teammate Todd Bodine, who won last year's inaugural event, left the pits on lap 100 without the proper amount of lugnuts on his left front tire.

Bodine lost the tire and was forced to circle the track with sparks flying from his wheel bearing until he again entered pit road -- with his tire trailing him.

Upon leaving the pits under caution, Bodine was forced to push Green, who had run out of fuel, back into pit row.

Bud Pole-sitter Robert Pressley finished 14th. Defending series champion Randy Lajoie was unable to keep the momentum from winning last week's Myrtle Beach 250, finishing 16th.

This was the 19th of 31 races on the NASCAR Busch Grand National circuit. The next stop will be the South Boston 300 on the short track of South Boston Speedway in Virginia on Saturday.

Source: NASCAR Online

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Todd Bodine , Randy Lajoie , Kevin Lepage , Robert Pressley , Mike McLaughlin , David Green , Phil Parsons