The Callahan Report: Gordon Takes $Green$ at the Brickyard
1 August 1998
By Terry Callahan
The Auto Channel
The battle raged until three laps from the end. The race ended under the caution flag as three cars tangled coming back for the final restart of the race. Mark Martin had been closing on the leader Gordon during the final 25 laps of the race. Gordon's worst nightmare came true with ten laps remaining in the race. The caution flew allowing Martin to tuck under the rear deck of Gordon's DuPont Monte Carlo.
The green flag flew again on lap 153 of the 160 lap event. Gordon got an excellent restart and began to pull away from Martin and Bobby Labonte. Within two laps, the yellow was out again as Jimmy Spencer spun in turn one and then slid into the outside wall. The NASCAR officials were determined to give the hundreds of thousands race fans a green flag finish. They quickly cleaned up the mess in turn one. The green flag waved again with three laps remaining.
The cars took off at the starter's stand. The yellow light came on almost instantly as Ricky Rudd, Jeff Green, and Joe Nemecheck tangled on the front straightaway. The crews radioed to their drivers that it would be a race back to the yellow. Martin and Labonte gave chase one more time, but it was useless. The multi-colored DuPont racer of Gordon was too much for both of them.
All three drivers were gunning for the No Bull 5 Winston Bonus money. The No Bull 5 Bonus money was worth $1 million dollars. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway added an additional $600,000 to Gordon's payday. Five drivers earned the right to contend of the bonus money by finsihing in the top five at the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte. The top five finishers at Indy are eligible for another No Bull 5 million dollar bonus at Darlington later this season. In addition to Gordon, Martin, and Labonte, Mike Skinner and Dale Earnhardt will also be shooting for the money at the track know as "too tough to tame."
On the final restart, Martin made his strongest move on Gordon. The young defending champion commented, "He made a great effort. He drove into me in turn 2. I didn't think I could get him off of me. I guess when it was meant to be.....It's meant to be." Gordon concluded, "I cant believe it."
The win brings Gordon's 1998 earnings to $3.2 million. Gordon has increased his series point lead to 72 points over Mark Martin.
"We're losing ten points a race to Gordon right now," said Martin. "That is the best we can do right now. Were doing all we can do. Jeff's car just ran better than ours. " The driver of the Valvoline Ford continued, "My car wasn't bad throughout the race. It was a good run, but not good enough." He said dejectedly, "I'm happy to be the first loser."
Even though Bobby Labonte missed his shot at the million dollar bonus money, he was happy with his third place finish. The driver of the Interstate Batteries Pontiac said, "We ran really good today. We had a lot better race car today. We got some help with other cars falling out."