NASCAR-WCUP: Dale Jarrett Captures Winston 500 at Talladega
12 October 1998
Jarrett, who collected a million dollar bonus from the Winston No Bull promotion, won his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race of his career at Talladega Superspeedway. It was the 18th NASCAR Winston Cup victory of his career. The race came down to a last lap shootout among a tight draft of nine cars. Jarrett, who grabbed the lead from defending race champion Terry Labonte on lap 176, was able to hold on over the last few laps to win by a mere 1.40 seconds.
Talladega Superspeedway lived up to its tradition of being NASCAR's most competitive superpeedway as the race saw no less than 20 lead changes among 12 drivers.
"I didn't know if I was going to be able to hold those guys off," said Jarrett. "I saw Bobby (Labonte) coming and had to cut him off, then I had to do the same to Terry (Labonte), and then I saw Jeff (Gordon) coming. I said to myself that this just doesn't end.
"I hoped we get to the checkered flag first. Everyone got side-by-side behind us and I believe that was the difference in us winning. Even though Jeff got a run, I knew if we beat him into turn three, I would be okay. This car was the difference. It's the best restrictor-plate car we've had in a long time."
An incident on lap 136 involving 10 cars eliminated many of the race's top contenders including Mark Martin, who entered the race second in NASCAR Winston Cup points. Others involved were Ward Burton, Wally Dallenbach, Michael Waltrip, Sterling Marlin and Bobby Hamilton. Seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Dale Earnhardt suffered minor sheet metal damage in the incident. He was able to continue only to retire on lap 175 because of broken rear end.
"We had to work hard for everything we got today," said runnerup Gordon. "We were real fast and able to lead a bunch of laps, but fuel mileage became an issue for awhile and put us behind the eight ball. We were fortunate to be able to get back on the lead lap. Terry Labonte and myself were able to work together real well to make it happen. We were cooking at the end and I thought we had a chance to win. I would like to congratulate Dale Jarrett. He did a great job and I am happy to come home with second to keep our top-five streak alive."
Jeff Gordon stretched his point lead to 288 Martin. Martin finished 34th. Jarrett earned $110,125 in race earnings for the victory.