"It makes Gary feel bad and it makes me feel bad. He should be on top of the world with his teams running first and second. But his biggest problem right now is as good as he feels for one, he'll feel bad for the other one."
Hendrick called his own meeting this week, bringing both teams together to talk about their strengths and to reinforce team spirit. And he told them what he's going to do tomorrow, while they're on the track.
He will pace. He will worry that this will be one of those rare instances when both of his cars have trouble on the same day, "It happened at Rockingham, it could happen again," Hendrick said. He will hide out in someone else's pit until the race is finished. And then?
"I'm very careful not show partiality, because I believe that's what has made us what we are," Hendrick said. "I explained to them that when the race is over, I'm first going to go comfort the one who doesn't win and then I'm going to go congratulate the winner. I hope that doesn't mean I'm shaking Dale Jarrett's hand."
Yesterday's NAPA 500 Qualifying
1. (18) Bobby Labonte, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 185.887, track qualifying record; previous record 185.830, Greg Sacks, Nov. 1994. 2. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 185.290. 3. (5) Terry Labonte, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 184.559. 4. (6) Mark Martin, Ford Thunderbird, 184.528. 5. (88) Dale Jarrett, Ford Thunderbird, 184.131. 6. (28) Ernie Irvan, Ford Thunderbird, 184.020. 7. (33) Todd Bodine, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 183.866. 8. Greg Sacks, Pontiac Grand Prix, 183.761. 9. (43) Bobby Hamilton, Pontiac Grand Prix, 183.410. 10. (97) Chad Little, Pontiac Grand Prix,183.373.
11. (8) Hut Stricklin, Ford Thunderbird, 183.337. 12. (52) Jack Sprague, Pontiac Grand Prix, 183.306. 13. (94) Bill Elliott, Ford Thunderbird, 183.214. 14. (95) Gary Bradberry, Ford Thunderbird, 183.190. 15. (1) Rick Mast, Pontiac Grand Prix, 183,183. 16. (30) Johnny Benson Jr., Pontiac Grand Prix, 183.165. 17. (3) Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 183.079. 18. (29) Robert Pressley, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 183.079. 19. (11) Brett Bodine, Ford Thunderbird, 183.067. 20. (9) Lake Speed, Ford Thunderbird, 183.030.
21. (87) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 183.000. 22. (78) Billy Standridge, Ford Thunderbird, 182.957. 23. (22) Ward Burton, Pontiac Grand Prix, 182.823. 24. (20) Elton Sawyer, Ford Thunderbird, 182.817. 25. (77) Bobby Hillin Jr., Ford, 182.805.
Failed to qualify
Well-known drivers who did not qualify yesterday included Ricky Rudd, Rusty Wallace, John Andretti, Sterling Marlin, Darrell Waltrip, Geoff Bodine, Jimmy Spencer, Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Kyle Petty. The rest of the 17 places in the 42-car field will be determined in trials today.
Winston Cup points
1, Terry Labonte, 4,497. 2, Jeff Gordon, 4,450. 3, Dale Jarrett, 4,398. 4, Dale Earnhardt, 4,162. 5, Mark Martin, 4,127. 6, Ricky Rudd, 3,703. 7, Rusty Wallace, 3,583. 8, Ernie Irvan, 3,572. 9, Sterling Marlin, 3,564. 10, Bobby Hamilton, 3,484.
What: NASCAR's Winston Cup season-ending race.
Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, Ga.
Time: Tomorrow, 12:40 p.m.
Pole sitter: Bobby Labonte, 185.887 mph
Defending champion: Dale Earnhardt.
Outlook: Terry Labonte leads the Winston Cup points race by 47 points over teammate and defending Winston Cup champion Jeff Gordon going into the last race of season. Labonte wins the Winston Cup title if he finishes eighth or better. Gordon can win the series title if he wins the race, leads a lap (for five bonus points) and then leads the most laps (for another five bonus points) and Labonte finishes ninth or worse with no bonus points. If the two wind up in a points tie, Gordon wins the tiebreaker because of his series-best 10 victories. Dale Jarrett is in third place, 99 points behind the leader, and has an outside chance at winning the Winston Cup title. He must win tomorrow's race, get the maximum bonus points and have Labonte finish 26th or below and Gordon 11th or below, each with no bonus points.
Pub Date: 11/09/96