Gant cruises to All-Pro 300 victory, as fuel-ish gamble backfires on Burton

THE BALTIMORE SUN

CONCORD, N.C. -- Harry Gant took advantage of a gamble by Ward Burton and his race team yesterday in earning his seventh NASCAR victory in his past eight outings, taking the All-Pro Auto Parts 300.

Gant's string of Winston Cup victories was broken at four last weekend at North Wilkesboro. He ran his Grand National string to three by winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the first event of a two-race weekend. Gant, 51, also won a qualifying race Friday to make the field for yesterday's event.

Burton was pulling away from a wreck-ravaged field and its survivors, but he also was running on the hope that another caution flag would allow him to pit for fuel. He failed to pit for gasoline and tires after a caution on lap 125. When he needed one more caution flag -- eight already had flown -- he couldn't get one.

Burton's car sputtered along the front stretch and ran out of gas on the backstretch on lap 188, 12 laps from the end.

Gant, starting from the 33rd position, had chased Burton for 50 laps after Dale Jarrett's car dropped out of contention with suspension problems. When Burton finally pulled into the pits, Gant cruised into the lead and claimed a $25,000 bonus in the process.

Burton, the pole-sitter who led for 162 of the 200 laps, lost a $40,000 bonus for his miscalculation and finished 12th. Gant led for only 18 laps. Ken Schrader finished second and Jimmy Hensley was third. Tommy Ellis, who started 37th, finished fourth, and Tom Peck, who started 35th, was fifth.

1. (33) Harry Gant, Buick Regal, 200 laps, 121.937 mph, $73,225; 2. (21) Ken Schrader, Chevrolet Lumina, 200, $31,500; 3. (25) Jimmy Hensley, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 200, $25,520; 4. (37) Tommy Ellis, Buick Regal, 200, $18,640; 5. (35) Tom Peck, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 200, $17,530; 6. (9) Darrell Waltrip, Chevrolet Lumina, 200, $8,725; 7. (6) Kenny Wallace, 199 $11,500; 8. (4) Todd Bodine, Buick Regal, 199, $9,600; 9. (20) Phil Parsons, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 198, $7,650; 10. (17) Bill Elliott, Ford Thunderbird, 198, $5,600.

11. (36) Jimmy Spencer, Chevrolet Lumina, 197, $4,870; 12. (1) Ward Burton, Buick Regal, 197, $36,450; 13. (28) Jimmy Bown, Buick Regal, 194, $4,750; 14. (38) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet Lumina, $7,100; 15. (22) Cecil Eunice, Chevrolet Lumina, 192, $4,825; 16. (31) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet Lumina, 191, $4,325; 17. (27) Jeff Purvis, Buick Regal, 186, $3,325, rear end; 18. (11) Robert Pressley, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 180, $3,825; 19. (24) Bobby Labonte, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 175, $3,625; 20. (12) Mike Wallace, Pontiac Grand Prix, 172, $2,775.

21. (15) Tommy Houston, Buick Regal, 162, $4,675; 22. (8) Tracy Leslie, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 160, $4,625; 23. (32) Chuck Bown, Pontiac Grand Prix, 158, $4,975, engine; 24. (7) Ernie Irvan, Chevrolet Lumina, 152, $1,950, engine; 25. (30) Richard Lasater, Pontiac Grand Prix, 152, $2,600; 26. (16) Michael Waltrip, Pontiac Grand Prix, 151, $1,800, engine; 27. (14) David Green, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 145, $2,500, running; 28. (10) Dale Jarrett, Pontiac Grand Prix, 144, $1,700, suspension; 29. (26) Steve Grissom, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 144, $4,160; 30. (41) Shawna Robinson, Buick Regal, 125, $2,050, accident.

31. (34) Terry Labonte, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 120, $2,090, accident; 32. (18) Mike McLaughlin, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 96, $1,575, carburetor; 33. (40) Dave Rezendes, Oldsmobile Cutlass, $2,730, accident; 34. (19) Edward Berrier, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 74, $2,300, engine; 35. (23) Jeff Gordon, Ford Thunderbird, 59, $2,250, accident; 36. (42) Bobby Dotter, Buick Regal, 47, $2,225, rocker arm; 37. (39) Davey Allison, Buick Regal, 47, $1,895, oil pump; 38. (3) Jack Sprague, Oldsmobile Cutlass, 46, $8,885, oil pressure; 39. (13) Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet Lumina, $6,415. penalty; 40. (5) Dennis Setzer, Ford Thunderbird, 8, $1,475, suspension; 41. (2) Morgan Shepherd, Ford Thunderbird, 3, $1,700, valve; 42. (29) Hut Stricklin, Chevrolet Lumina, 1, $1,400, accident.

Time of race: 2 hours, 27 minutes, 37 seconds. Margin of victory: 13.717 seconds. Caution flags: 8 for 42 laps. Lead changes: 6 among 5 drivers. Lap leaders: Burton 1-45, Gant 46-51, Schrader M. Waltrip 68, Irvan 69-71, Burton 72-188, Gant 189-200.

7/8

Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix

Rick Mears stole the spotlight from the Indy-car championship battle, at least momentarily, by smashing the track record in winning the pole position.

Mears turned the first and only lap over 180 mph on the one-mile tri-oval during the morning practice session. His official qualifying lap was considerably slower, at 178.740 mph, but it was still good enough to lead six drivers who bettered Bobby Rahal's year-old track record of 175.936.

"Obviously, the car was working well," said Mears, who was eliminated from the championship chase two weeks ago in Elkhart Lake, Wis. "It was not quite as quick as this morning, but we didn't have quite as much grip on the track and there was more wind in turn two."

Emerson Fittipaldi, Mears' teammate and the two-time defending champion at Pennsylvania International Raceway, took the other front row spot at 177.244.

Rahal, a two-time series champion, heads into today's 200-lap race trailing Michael Andretti by 13 points, with teammate Al Unser Jr. an additional 10 points back.

A maximum of 43 points remain to be won, with 21 up for grabs today Sunday and 22 in the season finale Oct. 20 at Monterey, Calif.

"I have to go for the win," Rahal said. "There's no question that's the strategy. I have to beat Michael, at worst."

1. Rick Mears, Penske-Chevrolet, 178.740, qualifying record; previous record 175.936, Bobby Rahal, Oct. 1990; 2. Emerson Fittipaldi, Penske-Chevrolet, 177.244; 3. Bobby Rahal, Lola-Chevrolet, 176.895; 4. Mario Andretti, Lola-Chevrolet, 176.861; 5. Michael Andretti, Lola-Chevrolet, 176.626; 6. John Andretti, Lola-Chevrolet, 176.117; 7. Scott Pruett, Truesport-Judd, 175.618; 8. Scott Brayton, Lola-Chevrolet, 175.191; 9. Al Unser Jr., Lola-Chevrolet, 174.393; 10. Danny Sullivan, Lola-Alfa Romeo, 173.804.

11. Arie Luyendyk, Lola-Chevrolet, 173.385; 12. Eddie Cheever, Lola-Chevrolet, 172.828; 13. Paul Tracy, Penske-Chevrolet, 171.690; 14. Scott Goodyear, Lola-Judd, 169.078; 15. A.J. Foyt, Lola-Chevrolet, 169.070; 16. Tony Bettenhausen, 1990 Penske-Chevrolet, 168.840; 17. Hiro Matsushita, Lola-Cosworth, 164.617; 18. Willy T. Ribbs, 1990 Lola-Cosworth, 163.823; 19. Jeff Andretti, Lola-Cosworth, 163.815; 20. John Jones, 1989 Lola-Buick, 161.587; 21. Dennis Vitolo, 1990 Lola-Cosworth, 158.983.

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