Jarrett beats Busch in late battle at Rockingham



Sunday, February 23

Busch, DJ top points race
Associated Press

ROCKINGHAM, N.C. -- Dale Jarrett outfoxed Kurt Busch during the final laps Sunday and won the Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway.

Busch had the strongest car late in the race, leading 150 laps with few challenges from the rest of the field after he got up front.

But Jarrett came on strong at the end, passing Busch 10 laps from the finish by first pinning him against the wall, then using lapped traffic to box him in and slide on past.

Busch regained the lead with five laps to go, passing him after a stirring side-by-side duel.

Jarrett, conserving his tires while Busch burned rubber trying to keep the lead, went by him one more time and led the final three laps for his 31st career victory.

This was Jarrett's second win at Rockingham and the first Winston Cup victory for new crew chief Brad Parrott.

Busch finished second for the second straight week and emerged as the early favorite for the Winston Cup championship. He takes a 31-point lead over Jarrett in the standings into next week's race in Las Vegas, his hometown.

Matt Kenseth, who won this race last year, was third to give Roush Racing second and third place finishes and a Ford sweep of the top three spots.

Ricky Craven was fourth in a Pontiac and rookie Jamie McMurray finished fifth in a Dodge.

Rusty Wallace, making his 600th career start, led a race-high 182 laps early in the event but faded to a sixth place finish. Roush Racing driver Mark Martin was seventh and was followed by Jimmie Johnson, Elliott Sadler -- Jarrett's new teammate -- and pole-sitter Dave Blaney.

The No. 88 crew celebrates after Jarrett's win on Sunday.

The Chevrolets were expected to be strong Sunday after winning everything at Daytona last week, but Johnson's eighth-place finish was the best showing for the Monte Carlos.

Bobby Labonte actually was racing for the win late in the race, but gambled on fuel strategy and had to give up the third position to stop for gas with less than 10 laps to go. He ended up 16th.

Michael Waltrip, winner of the Daytona 500 last week, was never a factor and finished 19th.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., his teammate, had a miserable day. He made contact with Jeff Gordon early in the race, causing him to eventually blow his left front tire.

But the timing was perfect: The tire gave way just as NASCAR threw a planned caution 45 laps into the race for teams to make adjustments on their cars.

It saved Earnhardt from going a lap down, which was eventual anyway. He was involved in three of the seven cautions for spinning out and ended up 33rd, three laps down.

Poor weather all weekend meant almost no track time for the teams -- they had just one hour of practice before Friday's qualifying and rain washed out all action on Saturday.

So teams had to gamble with setups on a cold and windy day that created ever-changing track conditions. But the racing was still very good with 21 lead changes among 11 different drivers.

That won't help Rockingham, though, in its bid to keep two Winston Cup races when NASCAR realigns its schedule next season. The grandstands, which hold 60,000 fans, were half empty.


Jarrett needs to learn to say UPS at least once when he climbs out of the car in victory lane.


Jarrett did say "the UPS Ford" but didn't mention UPS specifically which I don't have a problem with. I wonder if he gets a warning letter from Corp. when he fails to do this!

The racing yesterday was tons better than the racing at Daytona. 3 wide with all grooves from top to bottom working was good. Todd and Brad Parrott are known to be experts with tires and tire management and "The Rock" is a place where that expertise shines through.

If this track loses a race (bet on it) it will be the fans loss. JMO.