Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jarrett Tough Guy to Catch

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jarrett Tough Guy to Catch

Article excerpt

DAYTONA BEACH -- With about five laps to go, Kelley Jarrett and the kids were getting antsy. They wanted to hurry down to victory lane.

"But we heard on the radio that Dale Earnhardt was trying to take the lead," she said. "We thought it would look pretty foolish if we're down there waiting and we didn't win the race."

No need to worry. Nobody, not even Earnhardt, could catch Kelley's husband for the victory at the Pepsi 400 on Saturday night. And the next question is: Can anyone cut into Dale Jarrett's commanding lead in the Winston Cup points standings?

The victory gave one of stock car racing's most popular divers a 177-point lead over Bobby Labonte heading into the second half of the season.

Not since 1992, when Alan Kulwicki overtook Davey Allison in the last race of the season, has someone leading at the halfway point failed to win the championship.

"That's a good stat to know," said Jarrett, in pursuit of his first series title. "I don't want to end that string.

"Without sounding cocky or overconfident, if we can continue doing what we've done, they'll have trouble catching us. But it only takes one race to make this a close battle."

Jarrett, however, has been the most unlikely candidate to throw in a stinker this season.

His only bad effort came on opening week in the Daytona 500, an event he won in 1993 and 1996. This time, Jarrett was involved in a multicar accident that resulted in a 37th-place finish.

Since then, he has finished out of the top 10 only once, a 16-race stretch of consistency unlike any the 15-year veteran can recall.

"I can't remember being involved in anything like it," Jarrett said.

"We've overcome some things where we shouldn't have finished in the top 10 and we did," he added.

"We've done things we need to do to win championships. There have been days we needed all 500 miles, or all 600 miles, to get the car right. But we continued to work on it and get it right."

HOW THEY FINISHED

DAYTONA BEACH -- Unofficial results from Saturday night's NASCAR Winston Cup Series Pepsi 400 race at the Daytona International Speedway with finishing position, starting position, driver, type of car, laps completed, reason out (if any) and money won:

ORDER OF FINISH

1 12 Dale Jarrett Ford 160 $164,965 2 10 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet 160 $92,175 3 37 Jeff Burton Ford

160 $93,775 4 8 Mike Skinner Chevrolet 160 $79,825 5 9 Bobby Labonte Pontiac 160 $71,890 6 6 Tony Stewart Pontiac 160 $52,475 7 25 Ward Burton Pontiac 160 $60,575 8 18 Bobby Hamilton Chevrolet 160

$61,175 9 32 Ernie Irvan Pontiac 160 $52,175 10 38 Terry Labonte Chevrolet 160 $62,965 11 5 Rusty Wallace

Ford 160 $67,115 12 7 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet 160 $52,675 13 2 Ricky Rudd Ford 160 $55,785 14 24 Kenny Irwin Ford 160 $48,995 15 28 Kenny Wallace Chevrolet 160 $43,795 16 1 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet 160 $54,765 17 3 Mark Martin Ford 160

$54,575 18 26 Rich Bickle Pontiac 160 $39,485 19 36 Ken Schrader Chevrolet 160 $46,045 20 14 Bill Elliott Ford 160 $47,345 21 33 Johnny Benson Ford

160 $46,960 22 19 John Andretti Pontiac 160 $49,540 23 29 Elliott Sadler Ford 160 $45,170 24 11 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 160 $56,250 25 15 Wally Dallenbach Chevrolet 160 $44,005 26 20 Jeremy Mayfield Ford 160 $48,545 27 17 Jimmy Spencer Ford 160 $43,690 28 21 Geoffrey Bodine Chevrolet 159 $36,070 29 4 Chad Little Ford 159 $42,850 30 40 Kevin Lepage Ford 159 $42,680 31 22 Dave Marcis Chevrolet 159 $32,500 32 41 Rick Mast Ford 159 $32,370 33 27 David Green Chevrolet 159 $32,240 34 34 Brett Bodine Ford 159 $39,160 35 42 Ted Musgrave Ford 158 $32,030 36 39 Kyle Petty Pontiac 158 $31,900 37 16 Jerry Nadeau

Ford 158 $32,271 38 35 Darrell Waltrip Ford 156

$31,625 39 13 Michael Waltrip Chevrolet 113 (rear end) $38,500 40 31 Loy Allen Ford 111(running) $31,375 41 23 Buckshot Jones Pontiac 110(radiator) $31,250 42 43 Steve Park

Chevrolet 78(engine) $38,125 43 30 Ricky Craven Chevrolet 34(steering) $35,300

RACE STATISTICS

TIME OF RACE: 2 hours, 21 minutes, 50 seconds. …

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