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'This makes up for last year'
Jarrett erases fuel goof, claims 2nd career Brickyard 400
Posted: Monday August 09, 1999 07:15 PM
INDIANAPOLIS (CNN/SI) -- Last year, Dale Jarrett left Indianapolis Motor Speedway hornet-mad.
A year later, he exulted in Victory Lane, but the embarrassing out-of-gas sequence from 1998 wasn't fogotten.
That memorable goof in fuel calculation -- which cost him four laps and a likely win -- helped spur his Robert Yates Racing team to Saturday's Brickyard 400 triumph. In doing so, Jarrett became the second driver in the race's six-year history to capture two Brickyard titles, while leading 116 of 160 laps.
Jeff Gordon became the event's first multiple winner last year, largely because Jarrett ran out of fuel while leading at the halfway point. Jarrett was able to get back on the lead lap, but not mount a challenge, and his crew took most of the blame for a telemetry misread. On Saturday, there were such no goofs.
"Awesome job guys," Jarrett radioed to his crew as he took the checkered flag. "What a great race car. You guys are the best."
His crew chief, Todd Parrott, radioed back, "This makes up for last year."
Jarrett, who entered the race as the NASCAR Winston Cup points leader, defeated Bobby Labonte by 3.351 seconds. Gordon was third, followed by Mark Martin and Jeff Burton. Jarrett's Ford Taurus averaged 148.228 miles per hour around the 2.5-mile track.
It was Jarrett's 22nd career Winston Cup win and his second PPG Trophy. Jarrett also won the Brickyard 400 in 1996. The son of two-time series champion Ned Jarrett also earned his fourth victory of the year -- tying him for the season lead with Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton.
"I was conserving some fuel and they said I would be OK," he said. "Once I got out front, the car took off."
When the race was slowed for caution for the final time after Dave Marcis blew an engine on the 142nd lap, the leaders made their final pit stops on lap 143. Jarrett's team elected to change two tires, rather than four, and he was able to get out of the pits with the lead.
"When that caution came out I was a little upset about that," Jarrett said. "I wasn't sure what two tires would do because we hadn't done that here. But once I got out front, it just took off and went. That was some of the fastest laps I did all day."
The green flag waved for the final time with 13 laps remaining and Jarrett was in front. He never looked back and took the checkered flag in front of an estimated crowd of 340,000 fans.
"It's the same race car," the Winston Cup points leader said, referring to the one which ran dry in last year's race. "It handled with two tires better than it did with four all day. It was just something to drive."
Jarrett averaged 148.228 mph in the race slowed by only three caution flags for a total of 12 laps. The only problem he had on Saturday came on lap 19 when he brushed the wall in Turn 2 while trailing pole-winner Gordon.
"That came from not paying good enough attention on my part," he said. "I looked up to see what was going on around me and I just hit the wall. I know I didn't hit it that hard. I usually do that here every race, so it wasn't any big deal."
It was a popular victory with the usual sellout crowd of about 320,000. But they also cheered loudly for Gordon, who spent his teen years just down the road in Pittsboro, Ind., as he charged from seventh to third following the final pit stops.
Ray Evernham, Gordon's crew chief, also took a gamble on that stop, taking the time to change all four tires and costing the team track position. But Gordon had no thoughts about trying the two-tire gambit that has won him races in the past.
"Heck, no, I didn't want two tires," Gordon said. "Ray called for four and I just called 'Hallelujah!' We just didn't have enough laps to get it done after that."
Gordon said Jarrett was the class of the field all day.
"He was this dominant last year at this track and he ran out of gas," Gordon said. "I think they made sure they didn't run out of gas this year and they just killed everybody."
Labonte came out second following the last stop, passing both Martin and Burton in the pits. But he could never get close to a run at Jarrett.
"I'd trade a Pocono win to Dale Jarrett for one of these in a heartbeat," said Labonte, who swept both races at the Pennsylvania track earlier this season.
Martin wound up fourth, followed by Jeff Burton and his brother Ward, rookie Tony Stewart and former Brickyard winners Ricky Rudd and Dale Earnhardt.
The first caution flag of the afternoon flew on lap 43 when Geoffrey Bodine and Chad Little bumped in Turn 2, sending Little's car spinning hard into the wall as Bodine continued.
"Bodine bumped me once in Turn 1 and then again in Turn 2," Little said. "You can't be bumping people on this flat track at these speeds. That was a brain-dead maneuver on his part."
Kyle Petty also was knocked out of the race in a scary crash on lap 73 when he ran over a piece of debris, cut his right-front tire and hurtled into the turn two wall at about 180 mph.
The car caught on fire and Petty scrambled to get out of the
smoke. He sat down, then laid down on the asphalt track near the
wall. But the third-generation NASCAR racer was not injured.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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