NASCAR Winston Cup Series - The Winston
Another Win for GordonCONCORD, NC -- For the last 13 years, Winston brand cigarettes, series sponsor for NASCAR's elite touring series, throws a little party for the fans and drivers. It's name is simply The Winston. It's a race unmatched in thrills and excitement. Only winners are invited to drive in this event that is run under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway. And who better than NASCAR's rising star Jeff Gordon to take the honors by winning The Winston tonight.
Gordon started the event in next-to-last place after absolutely blowing his qualifying run by shooting well past his pit stall during the unique two- tire change pit stop that is part of qualifying for The Winston. That didn't matter much to Gordon as he picked his way from 19th to third at the end of the first 30-lap segment.
The field was inverted for the second thirty-lap run meaning Gordon would have to start deep back in the pack. No problem for Gordon though as he again brought the DuPont Refinishes Monte Carlo back up front, this time finishing fourth in the field.
The last ten-lap segment, that RJR affectionately called The Winston 10-lap No Bull Shoot out, was a cake walk for Gordon as he picked off two cars before even one lap was completed under green. Then Gordon lined up on Terry Labonte and sailed on past on the second green flag lap. From there, Gordon just drove laps till the checkers flew beating the competition by a healthy 1.02-second margin.
Gordon, talking about his car said, "The first segment, I drove into the first turn to see what we had and it was awesome. It stuck like glue and I just put the hammer down and tried to get as far forward as I could. I had no idea I would get up to third. Things kind of went our way. I said earlier I wanted to be in the top for that last segment. I started fourth, on the outside was the best place to be. I didn't get a very good start, but luckily, the Labonte brothers were up there racing and gave me a great boost. I've got to take my hat off to Ray (Evernham) and all the guys on the DuPont team. They set the car up perfect.
"We were a little bit tight in the first segment, so we loosened it up. I got a little loose in the second segment, so we went halfway between for the last 10-lap segment. That thing could not have been any more perfect. It was awesome. Tonight could not have worked out any better."
This is Gordon's second win in his fourth entry into The Winston and brings his total winnings for this single event to $547,000.
The man that finished second can only count his lucky stars that he finished at all, let alone finish well. It was on lap three that Bobby Labonte got 'punted' by Mark Martin. Bobby squirted out of the pack and spun across the grass of the tri-oval and back up onto the track dodging many bullets in the form of 3400-pound stock cars. One after another came close but Labonte never did get hit or hit anything in his wayward travels. After a quick stop for tires he rejoined the field not much worse for the wear. Labonte said of the incident, "We didn't want to mow any grass tonight, but that's the way it happened. We'll chock that up to a lesson well learned."
Labonte didn't let his spin bother him any as he went on to blow away the field in the second 30-lap segment. Bobby crossed the line better than four seconds ahead of brother Terry. Bobby said of that run, "Our car was better on long runs and not very good on short runs. Long runs were our better bet, so maybe we'll be better off next week. I'm really more of a long run person too, I'm not much of a short run person."
Third place finisher, Terry Labonte, said, "We were off just a little bit. We were real loose at the start of the race. I guess we just over-adjusted our car. I didn't have anything for Jeff. He just killed me in the middle of the corners. The car just wouldn't turn."
The drivers that rounded out the top-five were Dale Earnhardt and Mr. Excitement himself, Jimmy Spencer.
The race that took 39 minutes 54 seconds to complete held an average speed of 157.895 miles per hour. Gordon, on his way to his $207,500 payday, was one of six drivers that lead the race. There was only one caution, for Bobby Labonte's spin, that lasted for five laps.
NASCAR Busch Series - Corestates Advantage 200
WHAT: Corestates Advantage 200
WHERE: Nazareth Speedway
Nazareth, PA - 1.0-Mile Banked Paved Speedway
WHEN: Sunday, May 18, 1997 - 1:00 pm (EDT)
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