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Gatorade 125 - Daytona Intl. Speedway

Because of his fifth-place qualifying effort, Jeff Gordon started third in the first 125 mile qualifying race. In the early laps he raced mainly in the top-5, once falling back as far as 8th.

On a last lap restart, he tried to make a run at Dale Earnhardt up high, but was blocked by Earnhardt as Sterling Marlin and Jerry Nadeau made a drafting line on the bottom of the track and motored past. Gordon finished sixth as two other cars, those of Andy Houston and Jimmy Spencer, passed him off of turn four in the four-wide dash to the line.

Gordon raced hard, but will start
13th in Sunday's Daytona 500.

Earnhardt, who took the lead on lap 21 after starting toward the rear of the field, had pitted just a few laps earlier during a caution for Carl Long's blown engine. Two laps later Earnhardt's own employee, Michael Waltrip, formed a drafting line and passed him for the lead. However, on lap 25, Earnhardt stormed past Waltrip with Ron Hornaday and Casey Atwood in tow to retake the lead.

Johnny Benson brought out the second caution when his #10 Pontiac scraped the wall. Everyone except for Derrick Cope and Jeff Purvis pitted.

Gordon was back in the lead in the first lap after green on lap 37 with Jerry Nadeau running a close second. The Hendrick Motorsports team mates ran 1-2 until Robby Gordon took the lead.

However, Earnhardt and Waltrip were working together, and coming up through the field. By the end of lap 42 Earnhardt moved past Robby Gordon to take the lead.

On lap 46, Ron Hornaday spun, collecting Dale Jarrett, to bring out the final caution. This set up the last lap restart and finish. Sterling Marlin won the event, with Jerry Nadeau second, Earnhardt third, Andy Houston fourth, and Jimmy Spencer fifth.

In the second of the Twin 125's, Mike Skinner beat out Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by 0.004 seconds to gain the 4th starting spot for the Daytona 500.


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