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Backup car brings win to Gordon

Posted: Monday, May 21, 2001

CONCORD, N.C. -- After wrecking his car moments after The Winston began, Jeff Gordon thought his race was over. But this was an all-star event, after all, and anything goes.

So NASCAR allowed him to bring out his backup car and, after a mad scramble by his Hendrick Motorsports team to get the car ready to race, Gordon drove it to victory early Sunday morning.

''I'll tell you what, it just says a lot about this race team,'' Gordon said. ''They just work their tails off to not only put great primary cars out there, but to have a great backup car in the truck. I just can't say enough for them and their effort.''

A light rain was falling when the race was set to begin Saturday night, but the track didn't seem wet, so NASCAR dropped the green flag.

The cars barely made it out of Turn 1 before they started slipping and sliding across the track, setting off a four-car accident in which Gordon took a vicious hit when Michael Waltrip struck his Chevrolet.

As Kevin Harvick hit the wall ahead of him, the traffic slowed and Gordon slammed into the rear of Jeff Burton. It sent his car spinning and Waltrip couldn't avoid hitting him square in the rear of the car.

Four cars were damaged and NASCAR halted the race. Because a lap had not been completed, NASCAR ruled the race had not officially started, so the backup cars could come out.

The decision was made while Gordon was being examined in the infield care center for a sore neck sustained in the wreck.

When he got to the garage and saw his crew working on the second car, he forgot about his aching body and got ready to race.

''I didn't even know we could do that in The Winston, so thank Winston and whoever else made up that rule,'' said Gordon, who earned $515,000 for the victory.

Indy 500 qualifying

INDIANAPOLIS -- A.J. Foyt has been around -- and around and around -- Indy enough to know when to gamble and when to be conservative.

 

Indianapolis 500 pole-sitter Scott Sharp, center, tries to push Greg Ray, left, away to stop him from clowning around as they and Robby Gordon pose for front row photos at the Indianapols Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 13, 2001.

AP Photo/Seth Rossman

The wily Foyt used caution Sunday and it worked well enough to give him three cars solidly in the 33-car lineup for next Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

Eliseo Salazar and Donnie Beechler joined previous A.J. Foyt Enterprises qualifier Robby Gordon in the field early in the day on seemingly effortless runs.

Five other drivers also made it, then sat and watched a smothering drama in the last 50 minutes of the six-hour qualifying session, with 12 attempts to bump the field's slowest qualifier, Billy Boat.

Boat, the 1998 pole winner, was the first qualifier of the last of three days of time trials, filling the field just moments after the session began with a four-lap run average of 221.528 mph.

Six entries were then bumped out of the lineup, the last, rookie Felipe Giaffone, leaving Boat on the bubble as the slowest remaining qualifier.

''This year we were on the other side of it and this was harder,'' said Boat, who was bumped and then got back in the field last May in the final minute. ''It's really scary to sit on the bubble for half a day while guys take shots at you one by one. Anyone can come up with a fast lap any time.''

Busch Nazareth 200

NAZARETH, Pa. -- Rookie Greg Biffle went to the lead on the 114th lap Sunday and easily won the Nazareth 200 for the second victory of his Busch Series career.

Biffle grabbed the top spot when leaders Kevin Harvick, Jeff Green and Jason Keller pitted for tires and fuel. The 2000 NASCAR truck series champion made it look easy thereafter, beating points leader Harvick by nearly nine seconds. Biffle, who drove a Ford, also won April 4 in Gladeville, Tenn.

After Harvick's Chevrolet came the Ford of champion Green. Keller and two-time race Busch winner Tim Fedewa were next.

Harvick dominated early in the race early after flying in Sunday morning from Charlotte, N.C. He competed Saturday night in The Winston at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series

FOUNTAIN, Colo. -- Joe Ruttman won his second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race of the season, holding off Scott Riggs and Jack Sprague at the Jelly Belly 200 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

The race ended in a two-lap sprint following a caution flag on lap 198 after Jonathon Price hit the wall in turn two on the one-mile oval. Because an NCTS race can't end under caution, the race went 204 laps.

Ruttman took the lead for good on lap 163 when he passed Ricky Hendrick, the highest finishing rookie at fifth. Ruttman's average speed of 111.004 mph broke the track record of 109.777 set in 1999 by Mike Wallace. Ruttman collected $45,985 for the win.

Ruttman, in a Bobby Hamilton-owned Dodge, also won at Daytona in the first race of the season. He is second in the series standings with 930, behind Riggs (1,015 points), who finished second.

NHRA Matco Tools SuperNationals

ENGLISHTOWN, N.J. -- Kenny Bernstein moved into contention for the Top Fuel points lead by beating Doug Kalitta in the finals in the Matco Tools SuperNationals.

Bernstein covered the quarter-mile at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in 4.532 seconds, going 321.35 mph. Kalitta lost traction and slowed to 9.169 at 87.98.

Bernstein moved to third in the standings, five points behind leader Mike Dunn and back of Larry Dixon.

Tony Pedregon won in the Funny Car division, Richie Stevens in Pro Stock and Matt Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle.



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