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EA Sports 500 - Talladega Superspeedway

One year ago:
Dale Earnhardt won his final race in a thriller at 'Dega, and Jeff Gordon finished in the top-five, setting up his chance to win a million at Las Vegas in 2001.

Kelly Morris

Jeff Gordon started 11th in the EA Sports 500 at Talladega. As the 43 cars took the green flag, there was much anticipation over what would happen over the course of 500 miles. The first 50 laps were run without any problems and the field all pitted on lap 50. Jeff had a good stop and got back on the track quickly. Kevin Harvick had a problem getting into his pit stall that cost him a lap, after he lost the draft.

On lap 95, Harvick accidentaly bumped Todd Bodine and sent him spinning in to the wall on the backstretch collecting Casey Atwood and Elliott Sadler.

This race was turning into a fuel milage race until Jerry Nadeau spun in turn four on lap 150, bringing the leaders to pit road for the last time given they needed gas. Jeff came in and took four tires and fuel. He restarted in 21st position.

All day, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had the dominant car and in the final ten laps he made it back up to the front to challange Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Bobby Hamilton for the win. On the last lap, Hamilton and Labonte got together and that caused the "big wreck" that everyone had been dreading the whole race. Unbelievably Jeff narrowly escaped this mess and put his foot to the floor and finished 7th after also having a tire go flat in the last turn costing him two spots.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race and won a million dollars since he was one of the no bull 5 drivers. " I wanted to win this race real bad. This is the same race as my father won last year and he won the million dollars too," exclaimed a jubulaint Jr in victory lane.

Among those collected in the last lap wreck were Bobby Labonte, who actually ended up on his roof, Sterling Marlin, title rival Ricky Rudd, Dale Jarrett, Ricky Craven and many others. These drivers also expressed their displeasure with Nascar after the race about the rules.

Jeff Gordon was very thankful after the race but at the same time could understand his competitors frustration, knowing that he could have been in it. "I saw Bobby get sideways and he was up in the outside and I was hoping that he was going to stay there. The next thing I knew he came around and I got out of the gas for a split second and I got back in the gas. I said no, I cant, I gotta go and I went back to full throttle. We are thrilled with 7th place. We just wanted to come out of here with a top ten and we did that," said Gordon.

Gordon also extended his point lead over Ricky Rudd to 395 points since Rudd finished 26th after being involved in the big wreck. They head to Phoenix next week where Gordon is looking to pick up his first victory in the desert.

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