Year in the making: Wallace wins 50th

Bristol winner achieves milestone 52 weeks after victory No. 49

March 27, 2000|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Need to regain your short-track edge and reach a Winston Cup milestone? For Rusty Wallace, there's no better place than Bristol, Tenn.

"I really put a big bull's-eye on this place, it's one of my favorites," said Wallace, who defended his Food City 500 title yesterday and became only the 10th driver in NASCAR with at least 50 victories. "I worked hard to get this one and pointed here."

And Wallace won't make the same mistake he did a year ago. He left here thinking he would win "five or six more times." Instead, his Ford Taurus was shut out the rest of the season, leaving him stuck on 49 career wins and answering question after question about when the next one would come.

Wallace came close, including a fourth-place finish last month in the Daytona 500.

"I thought maybe we were jinxed," said Wallace, who won $87,585.

But Wallace knew where he would build his firewall. He tested here two weeks ago and told his crew: "I don't want any excuses. I don't want anything to go wrong this week."

The crew took care of its part and Wallace did his, passing Dale Jarrett with 75 laps left and holding on to victory. He joins Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson for eighth place on NASCAR's career victory list.

"We kept talking about No. 50 and the wins just wouldn't come," he said. "It's an honor to be tied with those guys."

Now, with the milestone win, Wallace won't let up again.

"I've got that mentality now of what it takes to win these things," Wallace said. "Of what you have to do to get off the pipe and make it happen."

Wallace won for the eighth time at Bristol Motor Speedway, a dangerous 0.533-mile stretch that he has been able to master the past decade. His first Winston Cup victory was at Bristol on April 6, 1986.

Wallace finished 2.622 seconds ahead of Johnny Benson, whose Pontiac picked its way through the 11 cautions and pounds of twisted metal to go from 33rd to second. Ward Burton, last week's Mall.com 400 winner at Darlington Raceway, was next, placing two Pontiacs in the top three.

Jeremy Mayfield, Wallace's teammate, was fourth, followed by Terry Labonte, the first top five for a Rick Hendrick driver this season.

(Starting position in parentheses)

1. (6) Rusty Wallace, Ford, 500 laps, $87,585,

2. (33) Johnny Benson, Pontiac, 500, $87,535.

3. (5) Ward Burton, Pontiac, 500, $81,135.

4. (17) Jeremy Mayfield, Ford, 500, $49,795.

5. (7) Terry Labonte, Chevy, 500, $60,745.

6. (10) Bobby Labonte, Pontiac, 500, $57,695.

7. (1) Steve Park, Chevy, 500, $49,995.

8. (3) Jeff Gordon, Chevy, 500, $51,295.

9. (15) Jeff Burton, Ford, 500, $49,990.

10. (28) Sterling Marlin, Chevy, 500, $52,540.

11. (23) Michael Waltrip, Chevy, 500, $48,820.

12. (22) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 500, $42,165.

13. (4) Mike Skinner, Chevy, 500, $40,990.

14. (27) Ricky Rudd, Ford, 500, $40,315.

15. (8) Bobby Hamilton, Chevy, 500, $43,165.

16. (34) Mark Martin, Ford, 499, $46,290.

17. (18) Robert Pressley, Ford, 499, $33,840.

18. (30) Jimmy Spencer, Ford, 499, $40,840.

19. (16) Jerry Nadeau, Chevy, 499, $39,530.

20. (2) Kenny Wallace, Chevy, 499, $45,175.

21. (20) Dale Jarrett, Ford, 499, $52,915.

22. (24) Brett Bodine, Ford, 498, $27,765.

23. (31) Chad Little, Ford, 497, $38,915.

24. (35) Kyle Petty, Pontiac, 497, $38,740.

25. (14) Joe Nemechek, Chevy, 497, $38,595.

26. (25) Ken Schrader, Pontiac, 497, $30,965.

27. (21) Dick Trickle, Pontiac, 496, $27,545.

28. (29) Stacy Compton, Ford, 496, $30,590.

29. (42) Wally Dallenbach Jr., Ford, 493, $27,460.

30. (38) Kevin Lepage, Ford, 492, $35,635.

31. (13) Darrell Waltrip, Ford, 475, $26,365.

32. (40) Robby Gordon, Ford, 473, $26,345.

33. (32) J. Andretti, Pontiac, 460, accident, $44,325.

34. (41) R. Mast, Chevy, 459, accident, $26,285.

35. (26) D. Blaney, Pontiac, 457, accident, $26,765.

36. (37) Bill Elliott, Ford, 457, $34,245.

37. (43) Jeff Fuller, Pontiac, 414, accident, $26,235.

38. (12) D. Earnhardt Jr, Chevy, 401, accident, $26,225.

39. (11) Dale Earnhardt, Chevy, 346, $45,215.

40. (39) Kenny Irwin, Chevy, 335, $34,175.

41. (9) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 325, $34,150.

42. (19) Tony Stewart, Pontiac, 73, engine, $45,525.

43. (36) T. Musgrave, Chevy, 22, engine, $34,111.

Time of race: 3 hours, 1 minute, 40 seconds. Margin of victory: 2.622 seconds. Average speed: 88.018 mph. Lead changes: 18 among nine drivers. Caution flags: 11 for 76 laps.

Lap leaders: Steve Park 1-40, Jeff Fuller 41, Ward Burton 42-51, Jeff Gordon 52-140, Michael Waltrip 141, Jeff Gordon 142-205, Dale Earnhardt 206-207, Jeremy Mayfield 208-210, Jeff Gordon 211-217, Jeremy Mayfield 218-303, Rusty Wallace 304, Jeff Gordon 205-368, Jeremy Mayfield 369-385, Jeff Gordon 386, Jeremy Mayfield 387-404, Rusty Wallace 405-413, Ward Burton 414-417, Dale Jarrett 418-424, Rusty Wallace 425.

Winston Cup standings: Bobby Labonte 944, Ward Burton 903, Mark Martin 900, Dale Jarrett 826, Dale Earnhardt 813, Rusty Wallace 775, Ricky Rudd 768, Jeff Burton 759, Terry Labonte 731, Jeff Gordon 721.

CART FedEx Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami: Max Papis, driving a Team Rahal Reynard-Ford, won the season-opening race in Homestead, Fla., in his 60th start in the series.

"You need to believe you are a winner in your heart," the former sports car star said. "Today was proof."

Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix: Michael Schumacher, driving a Ferrari, won in Sao Paulo, earning his second victory of the season by completing the 71-lap race on the 2.671-mile Jose Carlos Pace track at an average speed of 124.525 mph.

David Coulthard of McLaren finished second, 4.302 seconds behind, but was disqualified because of a technical irregularity in his car's front wing. (Results, 12E)

Pub Date: 3/27/00

Victory lane lineup

Yesterday's win moved Rusty Wallace into a tie for eighth all-time in Winston Cup victories:

Driver Wins

Richard Petty 200

David Pearson 105

Bobby Allison 84

Darrell Waltrip 84

Cale Yarborough 83

Dale Earnhardt 75

Lee Petty 55

Rusty Wallace 50

Ned Jarrett 50

Junior Johnson 50

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