Bobby Labonte, crew chief Jimmy Makar, and team owner Joe Gibbs sported Hot Rod Magazine h
Bobby Labonte taught everybody a math lesson in the final laps of the MBNA Platinum 400 at Dover Downs, Delaware. Fuel mileage was the key issue, and crew chief Jimmy Makar outsmarted the rest of the field with his fuel stop strategy, which would eventually give the #18 Interstate Batteries Pontiac a commanding 22-second lead in the end, when race leaders Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, and Dale Jarrett were stopping for gas and tires with less than 30 laps left. Labonte may not have had the fastest car on the track, but he had the best strategy at the end, and that's what paid off for him. "I have to believe in him--that's my job," Labonte said of Makar. "We actually had about a Fourth-Place car. We won the race on fuel mileage. Our Grand Prix ran great. This is the best I've ever run here. The only problem is that this win came a week late and a million dollars short."
Gordon and Labonte were the only two drivers to complete the 400 miles. Gordon has won at Dover three times. Last year, Gordon was in the same situation at Dover. He dominated the race and then had to come in for a splash-and-dash, settling for second.
Good mileage, smart fuel management, and some luck helped Labonte win the MBNA Platinum 40
Meanwhile, Dale Jarrett is winning the war, despite losing a few battles. His Fifth-Place finish was good enough to keep him atop of the point standings by 51 points to Jeff Burton. Jarrett's first win of the season came at the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond, but every finish in 12 of the point races (up to this race) have been in the top five, minus an 11th-Place finish at Las Vegas and an Eighth-Place finish at Martinsville.
There were 15 lead changes among seven drivers. Mark Martin led early in the race and then settled in for the long haul, saving the car for a big move at the end. Ultimately, the gas crisis would cause him to stop like the others. He finished third. Jeff Burton started in 37th position and worked his way up to eighth by the race's end. Rookie Tony Stewart had another phenomenal race and finished fourth. Johnny Benson delivered his first top-10 finish of the season as he brought home seventh with new crew chief Pat Tryson. Rusty Wallace had a strong run finishing sixth, but he had a hard time getting his tires to consistently hook up to the track. Bill Elliott gained a lot of spots toward the end, but could only charge as far north as 12th. Dale Earnhardt finished 11th.
Gordon had to come in for a splash-and-dash that probably cost him the race.
NASCAR Busch Series Al Division MBNA Platinum 200
Dover Downs International Speedway
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2. Ward Burton
3. Todd Bodine
4. David Green
5. Dick Trickle
|WINSTON CUP POINT STANDINGS |
FOLLOWING THE MBNA PLATINUM 400
|1. DALE JARRETT ||1984 |
|2. JEFF BURTON ||1933 |
|3. BOBBY LABONTE ||1915 |
|4. MARK MARTIN ||1854 |
|5. TONY STEWART ||1700 |
|6. JEFF GORDON ||1645 |
|7. DALE EARNHARDT ||1608 |
|8. RUSTY WALLACE ||1592 |
|9. WARD BURTON ||1578 |
|10. TERRY LABONTE ||1549 |