The present and the future of Winston Cup racing seemed to collide (not literally, thankfully) over the course of 400 miles at Dover Downs International Speedway. When the checkers waved at the MBNA Gold 400, however, it was the present, in the form of veteran driver Mark Martin, emerging victorious.
Martin drove his Valvoline/Cummins Ford to victory for the second time in 1999. The victory was extra-sweet for the 40-year-old driver who ended a winless streak at 25 races.
"I knew that we didn't need something to go wrong with our deal today," Martin said. "I can't tell you how badly I wanted to win this race."
While fellow veteran and current Winston Cup point leader Dale Jarrett finished third, it was newcomers Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth who almost stole the day.
Rookie Stewart drove the Home Depot Pontiac to yet another top-5 finish. After leading for a total of 81 laps early in the race, Stewart got a bad set of tires and fell 3 laps down. After a couple of well-timed cautions, he was able to get back on the lead lap, and in the end, Stewart was Martin's closest challenger. "I couldn't believe that Tony was back on the lead lap," Martin said.
Martin had good things to say about Kenseth as well. Kenseth is a Martin protg who will be driving next year in a car co-owned by Martin and Jack Roush.
"I'm just glad to get this win because I don't know how many more of them I'm gonna be able to get with him out there," Martin said.
Race NotesAnother strong showing from Dale Jarrett moved him another step closer to his first Winston Cup title. He still holds a 257-point lead with only seven races remaining. The rumor mill at Dover was all abuzz about the future of star crew chief Ray Evernham. Three days after the race, Evernham announced his immediate departure from Hendrick Motorsports, and Brian Whitesell was named Jeff Gordon's new crew chief.
Winston Cup Championship Point Standings Following the MBNA Gold 400
|1. DALE JARRETT ||4142 |
|2. MARK MARTIN ||3885 |
|3. BOBBY LABONTE ||3878 |
|4. TONY STEWART ||3858 |
|5. JEFF BURTON ||3731 |
|6. JEFF GORDON ||3671 |
|7. DALE EARNHARDT ||3557 |
|8. RUSTY WALLACE ||3235 |
|9. WARD BURTON ||3062 |
|10. TERRY LABONTE ||3053 |
Race No. 27There were 25 lead changes among 10 drivers and four cautions, for a total of 22 laps.
NASCAR Busch SeriesFollowing are the top-five finishers of the MBNA Gold 200 held at Dover Downs International Raceway on September 25.
1.Casey Atwood2. Randy LaJoie3. Jeff Green4. Tony Raines5. Kenny Irwin