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NASCAR Winston Cup Series - California 500
Sunday, June 22th at 2:00pm ET
Jeff Gordon In-Car Radio Transmission
Jeff Gordon Wins His 7th
by Mike Snow
FONTANA, CA -- It wasn't long after the drivers took to the track for the first
practice session for the inaugural running of the California 500 that the
comparisons to its sister track, Michigan stopped. The drivers said that it
didn't drive like Michigan. But as the laps clicked off it was apparent that it
would race like Michigan and the guy with the lightest foot and best fuel
mileage would win the race. This combination makes one look to a Chevrolet as it
is a bit stingier with a gallon of gas than its Ford counterpart. And it was the
season long dominant Chevy that got the win; Jeff Gordon in the #24 DuPont Monte
Gordon, talking about his seventh victory of the year said, "It was a great
battle all day. I learned how to conserve fuel today and it's pretty
Gordon, who mixed and matched pit strategies the entire race, as all the teams
had to, opted for a 2-tire stop on lap 195 while most of the front running Fords
had to stop on or about lap 192. Mr. Smooth, Terry Labonte, was able to stretch
things out to lap 197. From there the game of patience and a smooth application
of the throttle was going to be the key to making it to the end without needing
to stop for fuel. As the race raged on, the calculators indicated that the only
hope the fast Fords of Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett, running second and fourth
at the time, had was a late- race caution -- a caution that would never come.
With only 12 laps to go, the Fords of Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett stopped for
a topping off of Unocal racing fuel. Then Martin dropped out of his second place
running position and brought the Valvoline Ford in with 10 laps remaining in the
race. This left Gordon in the top spot with plenty of room back to Terry
Labonte. Gordon just squeezed the throttle enough to stay in the lead as the gap
between first and second place went from close to six seconds to just over a
second when the checkers fell.
"It ran out of fuel coming out of turn four," said an elated Jeff Gordon. "The
crew did an awesome job calculating the fuel mileage. And they did great pit
stops all day. I want to thank Chevrolet. This Chevrolet was awesome today and
it's great to put it in victory lane."
Gordon commenting on the last few laps said, "I was running part throttle down
the straight aways. I could tell Terry was conserving a little bit, too. So when
he'd back off, I backed off. I just kept looking in my mirror to make sure I
stayed in front of him."
Terry Labonte could only hope that Gordon wouldn't make it on what had to be a
close to empty tank. Labonte commenting on his run said, "We thought Jeff might
run out of fuel at the end there. We kinda kept the pressure on but we didn't
have much fuel to work with either. It was a good run for us. We just couldn't
catch him there at the end."
The driver that came in third was Ricky Rudd. Rudd, who struggled with a poor
choice of cars for the track configuration, had to take a provisional to make
the race and started back in the 39th position. Rudd, combining a combination of
no-tire-fuel-only stops with four-tire-and-fuel stops, found his way to the top
ten in the late stages of the race. The headstrong Virginia native decided that
no matter what, he was going to stay out and see what fate had in store for him.
"I'll tell you, these guys didn't give up on this Tide Ford," said Rudd. "They
worked their butts off and changed a lot of things. They didn't give up. I never
gave up. The pit strategy worked out real well for us. I had to stretch the fuel
mileage there at the end. We had a 5th place car and ended up third. We'll take
it. We really didn't think we could make it."
The drivers that rounded out the top-five were Ted Musgrave, for his second
consecutive top-five finish and Mr. Excitement Jimmy Spencer.
Mark Martin, who looked to be the only one stout enough to tangle with Gordon,
actually held the lead on laps 234 to 239 before he slowed to come to the pits
for fuel. As luck would have it, the Roush team didn't get enough fuel in and
Martin still ran out of gas before taking the checkers and finished tenth, one
lap short of the 250 laps that made up the California 500. This was Martin's
first finish out of the top-five for five races.
The positions of the top-five in the Winston Cup points battle didn't change but
the lead that Gordon built up over his closest competitor, Mark Martin,
increased from 46 to 92. Terry Labonte remains in third with Jarrett and Jeff
Burton making up the remaining top five.
The race took 3 hours 13 minutes 31 seconds to complete and held an average
speed of 155.025 miles per hour. There were 21 lead changes among 12 drivers.
The caution flag was seldom seen and only flew 4 times for a total of 22 laps.
Gordon's margin of victory over Labonte was 1.074 seconds.
The next event on the Winston Cup schedule is the Pepsi 400 to be run at the
2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway on July 5th.
Gordon, speaking about the newest track added to the Winston Cup circuit said,
"I want to thank Penske and their whole operation for this incredible California
Speedway. They need to be commended. It was an awesome race and it is a great
track to drive on. I think everybody really enjoyed the whole week." And based
on the comments of the other drivers, Penske has hit a homerun on the former
site of Kaiser Steel Mill.
Provisional results for the NASCAR Winston Cup Series,
California 500 Presented by NAPA:
Ps.Ql.No. Driver Sponsor Make Laps Notes
-- -- ---- ----------------------------------------------------- ----- -------
1 3 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Automotive Finish Chev 250 $144600
2 10 5 Terry Labonte Kellogg's Corn Flakes Chev 250 Running
3 39 10 Ricky Rudd Tide Ford 250 Running
4 20 16 Ted Musgrave Family Channel/Primestar Ford 250 Running
5 19 23 Jimmy Spencer Camel Cigarettes Ford 250 Running
6 15 18 Bobby Labonte Interstate Batteries Pont 250 Running
7 7 29 Jeff Green Cartoon Network Chev 250 Running
8 9 88 Dale Jarrett Quality Care/Ford Credit Ford 250 Running
9 11 25 Ricky Craven Budweiser Chev 250 Running
10 12 6 Mark Martin Valvoline Ford 249 No Gas
11 18 21 Michael Waltrip Citgo Ford 249 Running
12 21 37 Jeremy Mayfield KMart/RC Cola Ford 249 Running
13 13 30 Johnny Benson Pennzoil Pont 249 Running
14 16 2 Rusty Wallace Miller Lite Ford 249 Running
15 8 17 Darrell Waltrip Western Auto Chev 249 Running
16 14 3 Dale Earnhardt GM Goodwrench Serv Plus Chev 249 Running
17 41 41 Steve Grissom Kodiak Chev 249 Running
18 1 42 Joe Nemechek Bell South Chev 248 Running
19 24 97 Chad Little John Deere Pont 248 Running
20 22 9 Lake Speed Melling Racing Ford 248 Running
21 35 98 John Andretti RCA Ford 248 Running
22 42 90 Dick Trickle Heilig-Meyers/Simmons Ford 248 Running
23 30 43 Bobby Hamilton STP Pont 247 Running
24 31 77 Morgan Shepherd Jasper Engines Ford 247 Running
25 34 96 * David Green Caterpillar Chev 247 Running
26 36 11 Brett Bodine Close Call Ford 247 Running
27 26 40 Greg Sacks Coors Light Chev 246 Running
28 40 22 Ward Burton MBNA America Pont 246 Running
29 23 36 Derrike Cope Skittles Pont 245 Running
30 25 99 Jeff Burton Exide Batteries Ford 244 Running
31 38 44 Kyle Petty Hot Wheels Pont 243 Running
32 17 94 Bill Elliott McDonald's Ford 241 No Gas
33 28 31 * Mike Skinner Lowe's Chev 225 Running
34 5 33 Ken Schrader Skoal Chev 219 Engine
35 6 7 Geoff Bodine QVC Ford 215 Engine
36 29 4 Sterling Marlin Kodak Gold Film Chev 206 Engine
37 2 28 Ernie Irvan Texaco Havoline Ford 202 Engine
38 33 1 Jerry Nadeau R & L Carriers Pont 174 Running
39 4 46 Wally Dallenbach, Jr. First Union Chev 173 Electrc
40 32 71 Dave Marcis RealTree Chev 146 Engine
41 37 75 Rick Mast Remington Arms Ford 94 Engine
42 27 8 Hut Stricklin Circuit City Ford 28 Wreck
* Rookie of the Year Contender
Time of Race : 3 hours, 13 minutes, 31 seconds
Average Speed : 155.025 mph
Margin of Victory : 1.074 seconds
Lap Leaders : 21 lead changes among 12 drivers
Nemechek (1), Dallenbach (2-7), JGordon (8-31),
BBodine (32), Schrader (33-40), JGordon (41-70),
Martin (71-72), JGordon (73-77), Martin (78-80),
Spencer (81), Craven (82-84), JGordon (85-96),
Jarrett (97-141), Craven (142-146), Irvan (147-152),
Jarrett (153-156), TLabonte (157-197), Spencer (198-200),
DWaltrip (201-202), JGordon (203-233), Martin (234-239),
Cautions : 4 cautions for 22 laps
Track Length : 0.5330 Miles
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