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Gordon gets what fans think he deserves from Stewart after race finish

Sadler holds out for first career victory

Posted: Monday, March 26, 2001

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Elliott Sadler earned his first career victory and returned the Wood Brothers to the winner's circle for the first time in eight years by outracing John Andretti on Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Sadler, in his second season driving for one of NASCAR's pioneer teams, beat Andretti by almost three-car lengths in the Food City 500, a race that ended with Jeff Gordon sending Tony Stewart into the wall.

Driving a Ford, the Wood's choice since 1953, the 25-year-old Sadler came from the 38th starting position to give the family from Virginia its 97th career victory and first since Morgan Shepherd in 1993.

It marked the farthest back a driver has come to win a race at Bristol. The late Dale Earnhardt started 26th when he won the high-banked speedway's August race in 1999.

NASCAR-Food City 500 Results

Lap Length: .533 miles

1. (38) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 500, $124,700.

2. (11) John Andretti, Dodge, 500, $136,842.

3. (30) Jeremy Mayfield, Ford, 500, $105,709.

4. (15) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 500, $126,352.

5. (18) Ward Burton, Dodge, 500, $100,580.

6. (25) Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, 500, $93,775.

7. (4) Rusty Wallace, Ford, 500, $93,335.

8. (6) Bobby Hamilton, Chevrolet, 500, $61,195.

9. (17) Steve Park, Chevrolet, 500, $79,283.

10. (14) Ricky Rudd, Ford, 500, $88,237.

11. (41) Stacy Compton, Dodge, 500, $58,690.

12. (2) Sterling Marlin, Dodge, 500, $64,601.

13. (13) Bobby Labonte, Pontiac, 500, $98,042.

14. (24) Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, 500, $57,340.

15. (42) Kevin Lepage, Ford, 500, $56,480.

16. (19) Dale Jarrett, Ford, 500, $90,142.

17. (12) Bill Elliott, Dodge, 500, $73,088.

18. (33) Mike Skinner, Chevrolet, 500, $80,439.

19. (23) Jimmy Spencer, Ford, 500, $58,980.

20. (16) Casey Atwood, Dodge, 500, $49,450.

21. (40) Ron Hornaday Jr, Pontiac, 500, $47,440.

22. (29) Michael Waltrip, Chevrolet, 500, $54,690.

23. (34) Ricky Craven, Ford, 500, $44,040.

24. (3) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 500, $90,192.

25. (37) Tony Stewart, Pontiac, 500, $64,820.

26. (28) Johnny Benson, Pontiac, 499, $54,590.

27. (35) Brett Bodine, Ford, 493, $46,470.

28. (26) Robert Pressley, Ford, 487, $53,815.

29. (8) Dave Blaney, Dodge, 472, $43,210.

30. (22) Jerry Nadeau, Chevrolet, 459, $50,860.

31. (9) Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet, 456, $77,288.

32. (5) Todd Bodine, Ford, 437, crash, $42,000.

33. (21) Buckshot Jones, Dodge, 420, crash, $49,975.

34. (1) Mark Martin, Ford, 412, $91,261.

35. (10) Ken Schrader, Pontiac, 350, $49,865.

36. (27) Rick Mast, Chevrolet, 349, crash, $41,820.

37. (43) Mike Wallace, Ford, 345, crash, $49,785.

38. (31) Kenny Wallace, Pontiac, 307, engine, $41,740.

39. (36) Andy Houston, Ford, 265, crash, $41,705.

40. (32) Jeff Burton, Ford, 245, crash, $87,386.

41. (7) Kyle Petty, Dodge, 228, engine failure, $41,590.

42. (39) Kurt Busch, Ford, 118, crash, $49,535.

43. (20) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 108, overheat, $69,107.

Race Statistics

Time of Race: 3 hours, 3 minutes, 54 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 0.426.

Caution Flags: 13 for 87 laps.

Lead Changes: 18 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders: M.Martin 1-2; K.Harvick 3-79; M.Wallace 80; K.Harvick 81-82; S.Marlin 83-149; M.Kenseth 150; K.Wallace 151; S.Marlin 152-160; J.Andretti 161-180; J.Gordon 181-246; S.Marlin 247; J.Gordon 248-291; S.Park 292-337; S.Marlin 338; J.Andretti 339-342; S.Marlin 343-345; J.Andretti 346-372; K.Harvick 373-430; E.Sadler 431-500.

The finish seemed like a flashback to the 1970s, when David Pearson, driving the No. 21 car, battled Richard Petty and his No. 43 car week in and week out.

More often than not, the 43 beat the 21.

Not on Sunday, though, as Sadler had no trouble holding off Andretti, in the No. 43 Dodge owned by Petty Enterprises. Still, Andretti's finish was the best for Dodge, making its return to Winston Cup racing after a 17-year absence.

It became clear with 10 laps to go that Andretti would not catch Sadler, so the finish was anticlimactic.

But Stewart and Gordon added some late fireworks by resuming a feud that dates back to last season, when they tangled in Watkins Glen, N.Y., and exchanged words afterward.

Stewart was running in fourth on Sunday and Gordon was right behind him as they headed into Turn 4 of the final lap. Gordon tapped Stewart in the rear, causing him to spin out and into the wall.

The Pontiac driver motored around the track on the cooldown lap in pursuit of Gordon. By the time Stewart made it around, Gordon had entered pit row.

Stewart made a hard left into the pits, maneuvered through the traffic and rammed into the back of Gordon. The hit caused Gordon to spin out and slam the retaining wall, which drew a thunderous applause from the capacity crowd of 150,000.

NASCAR immediately summoned Stewart while Gordon defended himself over the loudspeaker.

''I had a great run going and was racing for position and he got sideways and just turned out on me,'' Gordon said, barely audible over the loud booing from the fans. ''I did everything I could do to avoid hitting him and don't see anything wrong with what I did.''

Jeremy Mayfield was third in a Ford and Gordon, in a Chevrolet, finished fourth.

Ward Burton was fifth in a Dodge, and was followed by Terry Labonte, Rusty Wallace and Bobby Hamilton.



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