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Dura-Lube 400 - North Carolina Speedway

Qualifying-
Jeff Gordon will start Sunday's race from the pole position this Sunday at Rockingham. Gordon turned his second of two qualifying laps around the 1.017 mile speedway in 23.401 seconds (156.455 mph). This is his second pole at the track, with the last one coming on Feb. 26, 1995.

“The temperature is cool,” Gordon said. “Goodyear brought a different tire that doesn’t seem to come in as fast as the old one. It’s a really good tire, but on that second lap we got more heat in the tires and carried more momentum into the corners.”


Jeff wore a #3 cap to honor
Dale Earnhardt's memory.

It's an emotional weekend for everyone at the track after the death of Dale Earnhardt in last Sunday's Daytona 500. However, Steve Park, driving a car owned by the late Earnhardt will start on the front row beside Jeff Gordon. Bobby Labonte, Ricky Rudd, and Jeff Burton will round out the top-five.

Race-
Jeff Gordon finished 3rd in the rain-delayed Dura-Lube 400.

Jeff qualified to start on the front row, but dropped back one row to make a "missing man" formation on the pole position in memory of Dale Earnhardt. Extra pace laps were run to further dry out the track, and at the start Jeff quickly jumped out into the lead. Suddenly, a wreck back in the pack put Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the wall with less than one lap on the boards.Having had a tough week, the team opted not to fix the car.


Jeff Gordon awaits
the start of the race.

The caution was extended due to a light rain, but several laps later the race resumed. Steve Park passed Jeff Gordon for the lead as he would many times in the race, but the caution came out again for rain. Everyone pitted, except for Stacy Compton who would hold the lead until the race was red flagged for rain. NASCAR decided it would take too long to dry the track and soon it would be dark. The race would resume the next day with 51 laps complete, and Jeff Gordon in second.

Steve Park, Bobby Labonte, and Jeff Gordon battled for the top three spots all day long. Gordon's car was good on new tires, but developed a handling problem once the tires wore. Gordon told his crew chief, Robbie Loomis, that the car was "plowing." It just wouldn't turn. They worked all day long to fix the tight handling condition. However, a few laps into a run, Steve Park kept passing Jeff. Steve Park passed Jeff for the last time around lap 000 and Bobby Labonte soon followed. Steve Park went on to win the race, in a car owned by the late Dale Earnhardt. That made it two wins in a row for DEI.

"I'm real proud of those guys and real happy for Dale Earnhardt Inc.," Gordon said. "They needed to have a good weekend like this. We're missing somebody here this week, and that's for sure. It's not going to be the same, but it was a heck of a race out there."

However, Gordon's car did not pass post-race inspection. The car's roof failed to meet the minimum height requirement. Penalties, if any, will be announced possible Tuesday.

Having led at least one lap and the most laps, Gordon got 10 bonus points. He was propelled from 29th place in the standings to 7th. This team really has it's act together for 2001. Could it be Jeff Gordon's 4th championship?

Top Five-

1-Steve Park, 1
2-Bobby Labonte, 18
3-Jeff Gordon, 24
4-Tony Stewart, 20
5-Ricky Craven, 32

 

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