The Callahan Report: Jarrett becomes a two-time winner of the Brickyard 400
7 August 1999By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
Jarretts biggest threat came from Bobby Labonte in the Interstate Batteries Pontiac. Labonte has built a reputation for getting excellent fuel mileage. Late in the race, Jarrett began to conserve fuel in order to make it to the finish. He had built up a comfortable lead, but was going to be forced to pit if he continued to run hard.
The fuel concerns disappeared when Dave Marcis engine blew with 19 laps remaining in the race. Ut on The yellow flag flew, allowing all the leaders to pit for fuel and tires. Jarretts crew chose to p two tires. Labonte, Jeff Gordon, and Mark Martin all took on four tires. It was easy to drive, Jarrett said. It handles with two tires better than it did with four tires. I was conserving some fuel. They (the crew) made an adjustment and the car just took of and went.
In last years Brickyard 400, Jarrett had the field covered in the same car he won with on Saturday. He and his crew threw that race away. Last year, his team decided to stretch the fuel in order to lead at the half-way point. The paycheck for leading at the middle of the Brickyard 400 is $10,000. The plan backfired as Jarrett ran out of fuel. He lost several laps on a gamble. Saturdays victory was vindication for the 1998 mistake.
This is the same race care we had a year ago. We gave that race away, said Todd Parrott, Jarretts crew chief. This takes the sting away from last year.
Bobby Labonte continues to do everything he needs to do to win a championship. He has been rewarded with victories, including two wins at Pocono this year. His team has quick pit stops, they communicate well, they always race fast, and they have the best fuel mileage program in NASCAR. As good as Labonte and his crew are working, Jarretts team continues to perform a little better.
I would trade a Pocono win to Jarrett to win one of these (Brickyard), said Labonte. We hung around and took two tires at the end. We had a top five race car all day. Watching the 88 car all day, he was really dialed. We just finished second today.
Three time and defending Winston Cup Champion, Jeff Gordon, finished in third place. Gordon was in fifth place with four laps remaining in the race. In the final four laps, he passed Ward Burton and Mark Martin. The passes were daring. Both passes came in the normally one groove corners of the flat superspeedway.
Jarrett had us covered. Even in practice I knew he was going to be the guy to beat, said the defending Brickyard Champion. I thought with four tires there at the end we could do something with him.
I shouldnt have told the guys to tighten it up at the end, Gordon continued. We just had trouble getting the car hooked up today. We didnt have anything for Jarrett today.
Race fans attending the 1999 Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway were vocal with their support for their favorite NASCAR stars. That support is heard...and felt...at Indy. From the introduction of the drivers to the fall of the checkered flag...the asphalt and concrete at the worlds oldest race track literally shook. Not even the thundering horsepower of the Winston Cup cars could cover the roar.
The rumble will return next August, as NASCARs best attended race runs for the seventh time.