Tony Stewart blazed to glory and into the history books when he handily won the Checker Auto Parts/Dura Lube 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. It was his second win in this, his first season racing in the Winston Cup Series. Stewart's first win came seven races before this one, at the Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 in Richmond. The last time a rookie won two races in a season was when the late Davey Allison made his mark in 1987, and it had never been done at all before then.
John Andretti, who started from the pole position, set the pace early in the race. But Stewart, who started 11th, steadily gained ground on the leader and passed him on Lap 86. He would lose and then gain the lead two more times before keeping it for good on Lap 275 of the 312-lap race.
Finishing 2.0081 seconds behind the leader was Mark Martin, followed by Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton, and Ricky Rudd, rounding out the top-five finishers.
A beaming Stewart, invoking the racers' standard six-word opening statement, said, "The car was just awesome today." Yes, and its driver wasn't too bad either.
Race NotesDale Jarrett closed in on the championship title, finishing a hard-fought Sixth Place. Jarrett battled back from being a lap down due to a cut tire halfway into the race. He only needs to finish eighth or better at Homestead to sew up the championship.
Barring a wild-hair technicality, Tony Stewart is destined to win the Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors.
Busch SeriesTop 5 finishers of the Outback Steakhouse 200 at Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona early last October.
1.Jeff Gordon2 Dale Earnhardt Jr.3. Jimmy Spencer4. Jeff Burton5. Kenny Wallace
Winston Cup Championship Point Standings Following The Checker Auto Parts/Dura Lube 500
|1. Dale Jarrett ||4927 |
|2. Bobby Labonte ||4696 |
|3. Mark Martin ||4613 |
|4. Tony Stewart ||4471 |
|5. Jeff Gordon ||4432 |
|6. Jeff Burton ||4403 |
|7. Dale Earnhardt ||4212 |
|8. Rusty Wallace ||3904 |
|9. Ward Burton ||3806 |
|10. Mike Skinner ||3706 |
Race No. 32There were 12 lead changes among 7 drivers and 2 cautions, for a total of 10 laps.Margin of victory: 2.081 seconds.Average speed: 118.132 mph.