The Callahan Report: Jeff Burton wins; Tony Stewart 'steams' out of New Hampshire
11 July 1999
By Terry Callahan
LOUDON, NH: Jeff Burton arrived at the New Hampshire
International Speedway with a non-competitive car. His on-track
performances throughout the weekend were dismal. Then early Sunday
morning, his crew threw new springs, shocks, and wedges at the car. He
took the green flag Sunday without testing the new setup. The magic
worked as Burton drove from 38th to 1st in the Jiffy Lube 300.
The Auto Channel
Burton did a masterful job at picking his way through the traffic on the tight one-mile oval. His patience, and experience showed as he moved his Exide Ford Taurus through the pack. As good as he is, Burton would need some help from the racing gods.. He got the assistance he needed with three laps remaining in the race. Tony Stewart, who was well on his way to winning his first Winston Cup race, ran out of fuel.
Fuel economy played the biggest factor in the 300 lap race. Burton had moved into the top ten but could not handle the Pontiacs driven by Stewart, John Andretti, and Bobby Labonte. Stewart and Andretti both ran out of fuel on lap 298. Labonte crashed as the final-third of the race started. Burton pounced on the bad luck of his racing competitors.
"We were fortunate to win," said Burton. "They had a great car, and Tony Stewart's a great driver. It's too bad for them."
Stewart's bitterness should change to cheer soon. Stewart is not just another open-wheeler headed South. He has been winning over fans at every track this season. Sunday's performance added significantly to his following. His day in victory lane will come soon. He is trying to become the first Rookie to win a Winston cup race since Davey Allison won in his rookie season in 1987.
Stewart has already earned the praise of proven champions. Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace have openly praised his talent. Veteran announcers like Ned Jarrett, Benny Parsons, and Buddy Baker have all been amazed at the things Stewart does behind the wheel of a Winston Cup car.
During the final twenty-five laps, most of the lead pack had to pit for fuel. Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, Kenny Wallace, Burton, and Dale Earnhardt all made stops in the waning laps.
Kenny Wallace made a quiet charge to finish in second place behind Burton. It was the best finish of his career. He was followed across the line by the defending Winston Cup champion, Jeff Gordon. Dale Jarrett finished in fourth place after Gordon gave him a bump in the final turn of the final lap.
Jarrett was not impressed with the contact. "There are a lot more races," Jarrett said about Gordon's move. "That's between Jeff and me."
Jarrett is impressed by the way the Winston cup points are shaping up. He entered the race with a 177 point lead on Bobby Labonte. Since Labonte crashed on the 207th lap, he wound up finishing in 38th position. Jeff Burton moved into second place in the series points race. Jarrett is 240 points ahead of Burton.
Burton earned $139,490 of the $2.6 million purse for his efforts. Stewart led two times for a total of 118 laps. Burton led the final two laps. They were the only laps he led during the race.