Victory LapsMatt Kenseth * Lowe's Motor Speedway * Race No. 12Another rookie stepped up to join the elite group of Winston Cup race winners. The victory for Matt Kenseth, who led twice for 32 of the 400 laps making up the race, seemed a long time coming-and by that I mean the race lasted a long time. Not including a 51-minute rain delay, the 600 took just under four hours to complete. It was of no matter to Kenseth, who muscled his way to the front of the pack, ultimately chasing down Bobby Labonte until he passed him for the lead in the final 26 laps. "My heart started beating pretty hard once I took the lead," said Kenseth, whose overexcitement cost him a chance at a victory in California. In Charlotte, his cool head prevailed. "Tonight I didn't think I had it in the bag until the last two laps," he said.*Winner: Coca-Cola 600
Tony Stewart * Dover Downs International Raceway * Race No. 13Tony Stewart dominated the MBNA Platinum 400. He led four times for more than half of the race's 400 laps and fended off a hard-charging Matt Kenseth in the end to win by 1.215 seconds. Stewart's fourth career Winston Cup victory was his first win this season. Kenseth finished second, followed by Bobby Labonte, Dale Jarrett, and Ricky Rudd.*Winner: MBNA Platinum 400
Tony Stewart * Michigan Speedway * Race No. 14Tony Stewart became this season's first back-to-back winner as he nabbed the rain-shortened Kmart 400. Stewart claimed the lead on lap 185, but when the downpour came just shy of lap 195, he parked the #20 Home Depot Pontiac ahead of Dale Earnhardt in second followed by Bobby Labonte and Dale Jarrett. When asked whom he would have been more concerned with at a restart, Stewart said, "I knew the #18 (Labonte) was not going to hurt me. He may go by me, but the #3 (Earnhardt) wouldn't have had a problem roughing you up a little bit on the way by just to say 'hi,' and he'd smile and laugh while he was doing it. I didn't really like seeing him back there at the end."*Winner: Kmart 400
In The SpotlightEarnhardt Jr. Wins The WinstonHe can't count on any points for winning it, but he can count the prize money-$515,000 to be exact. Not bad for a night's work. Dale Earnhardt Jr. snatched up another win, this one coming by way of Winston Cup's all-star spectacle. It was his third victory this season, but winning the non-points event doesn't contribute toward his bid for the championship. But then again, winning races does do wonders for a team's confidence and momentum-ultimately a contribution of a different kind.
Hey, Mister, Can You Spare a Car?Darrell Waltrip failed to qualify his car for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, but that wasn't going to stop him from making his 28th consecutive, and final, 600 race-oh, no! "Everybody wants me in the race," said DW. "I want to be in the race. Kmart wants me in the race. The fans, the track, everybody wants me to be in the race." And so, a deal was struck. Team co-owners Carl Haas and Travis Carter pulled together a wad of sponsor Kmart's money to offer Carl Long in exchange for the driver's seat in the car he qualified at 35th on the starting grid for the 600. Long, who drives for a part-time team owned by Thee Dixon, obliged and DW's Victory Tour, undeterred, rolled on. DW stayed on the lead lap for a little more than 32 circuits, and then he just hung on. He turned the wheel back over to Long during the rain delay to let him finish the last 150 laps of the race. Waltrip/Long posted a 36th-place finish.
Know who won the first NASCAR event at Michigan International Speedway and when?Cale Yarborough on June 15, 1969
Quick StatSophomore Tony Stewart and rookie Dale Earnhardt Jr. are the only two drivers to have won more than one race thus far.
By The Numbers3The most-feared car number to be seen in the rear-view mirror during the final laps of a race.
3 & 5
The number of top-five and -10 finishes for rookies Matt Kenseth (11th in the championship points race) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (15th overall) so far this season.
8 & 10
The number of top-five and -10 finishes for current championship points leader Bobby Labonte.
The number of different race winners this year, out of 14 races.
The duration, in minutes, of the rain delay at the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte.
The duration, in minutes, of the first rain delay at the Kmart 400 in Michigan. (The final rain delay lasted just less than five minutes before the race was called.)
The number of rain-soaked race fans who endured the rain delays at Michigan.
|Raybestos Rookie of the Year Points Following Race No. 14 |
|MATT KENSETH ||174 |
|DALE EARNHARDT JR. ||160 |
|STACY COMPTON ||113 |
|DAVE BLANEY ||107 |
|SCOTT PRUETT ||86 |
"I think it's easier for rookies to do well these days. I read something Ricky Rudd said the other day, that rookies coming into the sport used to have to get into junk and work their way into good rides. To drive for Jack (Roush) with teammates like Mark (Martin) and Jeff (Burton)-we have everything at our disposal. There's nothing that we're lacking. If you ask Jack what it costs to go Winston Cup racing, I am pretty sure he would tell you it doesn't matter. We have everything we need. It's just up to us to figure out how to use all the tools that we're given."-Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 DeWalt Ford Taurus.
"That's the plan as of right now, but we need to find somebody that's my size, so we're going to (check out) the eighth-grade classes around the Charlotte area."
-John Andretti, driver of the #43 STP/Cheerios Pontiac, on whether he would start the Coca-Cola 600 with broken ribs.
Quick StatDale Jarrett tops the money winnings so far at $3,580,134. Jarrett is currently in fourth place. The number-one driver in points, Bobby Labonte, has a balance of $1,538,901-that's $2,041,233 short of Jarrett.
News MakersThe Artful DodgeThe "Dodge Test Team" took its first test laps in early May at Homestead-Miami Speedway. It was the first time in 22 years that a Dodge factory-supported race car had been on a racetrack, and its performance did not disappoint. Test driver Kyle Petty warmed up for a couple laps then finished off the four-lap set with a 36.82-second run at an average speed of 146.659 mph. To give some perspective, Jeff Green's pole time in the '99 Jiffy Lube 400 was 34.669, just 2.6 seconds faster. "The car did very well," Evernham said. "Kyle was happy with the car-it drove good, shifted good, the brakes worked good, no leaks, and aerodynamically, even though the speeds are not where they would be on a Winston Cup race weekend, we're plenty fast enough to find out if we balance or not."
Pressley Almost King For A DayRobert Pressley, driver of the #77 Jasper Engines Ford, had an impressive run at Michigan. Pressley was mere minutes away from earning his first career Winston Cup victory, if only the rain had fallen sooner. After a final pit stop for two tires, Pressley took the lead only to lose it a few laps later to Tony Stewart just before the rain began to pour. It was his first top-five finish this year and the second of his career. "Man, I would have liked to have seen it (the rain) about eight minutes earlier," said Pressley. "But we'll take 'em anyway we can get 'em."
|… following Michigan, Race No. 14 |
|1. BOBBY LABONTE ||2116 |
|2. DALE EARNHARDT ||2018 |
|3. WARD BURTON ||2014 |
|4. DALE JARRETT ||1955 |
|5. JEFF BURTON ||1868 |
|6. RUSTY WALLACE ||1855 |
|7. TONY STEWART ||1821 |
|8. RICKY RUDD ||1810 |
|9. MARK MARTIN ||1798 |
|10. JEFF GORDON ||1732 |