At Brickyard, second time is the charm

THE BALTIMORE SUN

INDIANAPOLIS -- One down, one to go. Dale Earnhardt, who has struggled for nearly two decades without success to win one of stock car racing's oldest classics, the Daytona 500, needed only two attempts to win its newest classic, the Brickyard 400.

Earnhardt, in a Chevy Monte Carlo, took the lead after his last pit stop with 28 laps to go yesterday and held off Rusty Wallace, who was second, and a fast-closing Dale Jarrett, each in a Ford Thunderbird, to win the race, which pays the richest purse in stock car racing at $4.5 million.

After dodging raindrops that delayed the race's start for just over four hours, Earnhardt had to dodge Jeff Burton's spinning Ford in Turn 2 on the 132nd lap of the 160-lap race. That brought out the race's only yellow flag, and when the green came back out with 25 laps to go, Earnhardt, who started 13th and struggled in the opening laps, had enough to hold off Wallace and Jarrett.

Jeff Gordon, the pole-sitter, could not overcome a mistake on his last pit stop and finished sixth. Bill Elliott was fourth and Mark Martin fifth.

The race, which had four yellow-flag laps, was completed in an average speed of 155.218 mph.

But it looked as if the 25-lap sprint for victory never would happen.

Yesterday morning, Robbie Loomis, the crew chief of Bobby Hamilton's Pontiac, committed what looked to be, at the time, an act of extreme optimism.

"Robbie, I'd leave that there," said his boss, Richard Petty, as Loomis started to peel the tape off the garage's checkered linoleum floor. Loomis and crew had put the yellow tape there so they would know exactly where to park their car each time they had to make an adjustment on it.

It was a rare order from Petty, who likes to let Loomis supervise the details. And lately, Petty has had reason to stick to a laissez-faire policy. After 18 races with Hamilton, his new driver this season, Petty's car is 13th in the point standings, the highest it has been at this stage of the season in years.

1. (13) Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 160 laps, 155.218 mph, $565,600. 2. (24) Rusty Wallace, Ford Thunderbird, 160, $250,500. 3. (26) Dale Jarrett, Ford Thunderbird, 160, $203,200. 4. (4) Bill Elliott, Ford Thunderbird, 160, $223,450. 5. (14) Mark Martin, Ford Thunderbird, 160, $144,850. 6. (1) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 160, $299,200. 7. (3) Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 160, $119,700. 8. (9) Rick Mast, Ford Thunderbird, 160, $100,700. 9. (5) Bobby Labonte, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 160, $99,500. 10. (33) Morgan Shepherd, Ford Thunderbird, 160, $94,000.

11. (2) Bobby Hamilton, Pontiac Grand Prix, 160, $89,000. 12. (23) John Andretti, Ford Thunderbird, 160, $77,400. 13. (15) Terry Labonte, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 160, $80,500. 14. (7) Michael Waltrip, Pontiac Grand Prix, 160, $74,300. 15. (25) Geoff Bodine, Ford Thunderbird, 160, $79,400. 16. (19) Ted Musgrave, Ford Thunderbird, 160, $71,800. 17. (20) Darrell Waltrip, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 160, $70,700. 18. (11) Dick Trickle, Ford Thunderbird, 160, $69,500. 19. (10) Ken Schrader, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 160, $69,200. 20. (22) Ricky Rudd, Ford Thunderbird, 159, $73,450.

21. (34) Todd Bodine, Ford Thunderbird, 159, $66,300. 22. (29) Hut Stricklin, Ford Thunderbird, 159, $61,700. 23. (38) Jimmy Spencer, Ford Thunderbird, 159, $59,200. 24. (12) Brett Bodine, Ford Thunderbird, 159, $67,700. 25. (32) Kyle Petty, Pontiac Grand Prix, 159, $67,300. 26. (40) Mike Wallace, Ford Thunderbird, 158, $55,975. 27. (6) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 158, $51,675. 28. (21) Robert Pressley, Chevrolet -- Monte Carlo, 158, $69,875. 29. (8) Jeremy Mayfield, Ford Thunderbird, 158, $53,275. 30. (39) Steve Grissom, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 158, $52,675.

31. (28) Ricky Craven, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 158, $52,675. 32. (35) Jimmy Hensley, Pontiac Grand Prix, 158, $56,175. 33. (16) Greg Sacks, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 158, $48,425. 34. (27) Lake Speed, Ford Thunderbird, 157, $48,175. 35. (30) Ward Burton, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 154, $47,925. 36. (36) Rich Bickle, Pontiac Grand Prix, 152, $52,675. 37. (31) Kenny Wallace, Ford Thunderbird, 154, $47,625. 38. (18) Jeff Burton, Ford Thunderbird, 141, $59,020. 39. (17) Bobby Hillin Jr., Ford Thunderbird, 107, engine, $47,920. 40. (37) Derrike Cope, Ford Thunderbird, 104, engine, $52,520. 41. (41) Elton Sawyer, Ford Thunderbird, 17, valve spring, $55,520.

Total purse: $4,447,015. Time of race: 2 hours, 34 minutes, 37.271 seconds. Margin of victory: 0.37 second. Fast lap: 168.757 mph, Earnhardt, lap 131. Caution flags: 1 for 4 laps. Lead changes: 17 among 11 drivers. Lap leaders: Gordon 1-31, Elliott 32-33, Andretti 34, Hillin 35, Marlin 36-50, Elliott 51-66, B.Labonte 67-68, Andretti 69, Wallace 70-71, Elliott 72-100, Schrader 101-102, M.Waltrip 103, Andretti 104, Gordon 105-108, Wallace 109-128, Hamilton 129, Andretti 130-132, Earnhardt 133-160. Winston Cup standings: 1,Gordon 2,860; 2,Marlin 2,778; Earnhardt 2,739; 4,Martin 2,686; 5,Musgrave 2,642; 6,R.Wallace 2,387; 7,Shepherd 2,359; 8,M.Waltrip 2,338; 9,T.Labonte 2,329; 10,Elliott 2,287; 11,B.Labonte 2,242; 12,Jarrett 2,172; 13,Hamilton 2,161; 14,Rudd 2,155; 15,Schrader 2,094; 16,Cope 2,005; 17,G.Bodine 1,987; 18,Mast 1,953; 19,Grissom 1,883; B.Bodine 1,869.

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