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Formula One
News & Features
News & Features
News & Features
 Sunday, March 5
Burton wins another $1 million in the rain
Associated Press

  • Like his two rain-shortened victories in 1999 at Darlington, Burton happened to be leading when Mother Nature decided to intervene. That's not to say the No. 99 Ford Taurus wouldn't have won anyway. Burton, however, could have just as easily been behind Roush Racing teammate Mark Martin when the sky opened up on lap 148. The two were the class of the field over the first half of the race. Crew chief Frank Stoddard also had to make a $1 million decision to stay out on the track under yellow when the rain started falling. But there's something about rain and Burton that might have made that decision not so hard to make.
    Mark Martin, who led 33 laps Sunday, is the only driver to lead all three Winston Cup races in 2000. Martin has actually led the past six races dating back to Phoenix last season. Unfortunately for the No. 6 team, Martin hasn't finished in the lead in any.
  • We have a new leader in the Winston Cup points standings. Bobby Labonte, on the strength of his fifth-place finish, finally unseated defending champion Dale Jarrett, who had led the points race since May 15, 1999.
    1. Bobby Labonte, 490
    2. Dale Jarrett, 486
    3. Mark Martin, 477
    4. Tony Stewart, 442
    5. Jeff Burton, 427
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr., jumped out front early, grabbing the lead from pole-sitter Ricky Rudd on the second lap. Little E, who qualified third, led a total of 41 laps before Jeff Burton overtook him on lap 59. From there, Earnhardt slowly faded from the leader's rear view mirrors. The rain came with Earnhardt Jr., in 10th place. Fellow freshmen Matt Kenseth finished 14th, Dave Blaney was 22nd and Jeff Fuller came home 36th. Where was Scott Pruett, who started on the outside of Row 1, you ask? Only a blown engine in Steve Park's Chevy kept Pruett from finishing last.
  • When the final yellow came out, Tony Stewart made a move toward the pit entrance while running second behind Burton. Nobody followed him, so he quickly turned right and fell back into line behind Burton. When asked about the move, crew chief Greg Zipadelli smirked and admitted the move was a ploy and Stewart never intended to give up the track position.
  • Speaking of Stewart ... ever wonder what drivers do during a rain delay like Sunday's in Vegas? Well, Stewart munched on french fries, and actually threw a few at Burton during an interview with ABC Sports.
    The feel-good story of 2000 continued in "Sin City," as Johnny Benson left with a sixth-place finish. Leaving Las Vegas feeling like a winner is nothing new to Benson, however, who posted a career-best fourth in the desert back in 1998.
  • Results

    LAS VEGAS -- Whether it's luck or just plain good timing, Jeff Burton has it right now.

    For the second time in as many days, Burton won a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by making the right move at the right time.

    "We'll take bizarre finishes as long as we keep coming out on top," said Burton, who was out front Sunday when rain cut short the 400.

    On Saturday, he won a Busch Series race when he managed to slip around a spinning car that held up leader and Roush Racing teammate Mark Martin.

    Sunday's race was the third time in less than a year, Burton has been the beneficiary of wet weather that cut short a race. It also was the second time a rain-shortened victory has given both Burton and one lucky fan a $1 million bonus.

    "The key is to put yourself in position," Burton said. "We seem to have ourselves in the right place at the right time. That will turn around on us one day, but we're going to take advantage of it while we can."

    Burton passed Martin for the lead on lap 136 of the scheduled 267-lap race. Although he didn't know it at the time, it turned out to be the winning move.

    The second rain shower of the day began just nine laps later and the cars were parked on the main straightaway of the 1.5-mile oval for the second time on lap 148.

    With the rain still falling steadily after a wait of about 1 hour, 20 minutes, NASCAR gave up, sending home about 140,000 disappointed spectators.

    Although Burton said he believed he had the fastest car, he also noted that Tony Stewart and Martin were certainly not beaten when the race was stopped.

    "It's kind of a shame, really," Burton said. "Even though we won the race, it's not as dramatic as it could have been because those three cars were getting ready to put on one heck of a race and everybody kind of ran out of time."

    Stewart also managed to get past Martin before the final red flag, earning last year's top rookie a second-place finish. Bill Elliott, Bobby Labonte, Johnny Benson and defending series champion Dale Jarrett followed Martin across the finish line when the race was stopped.

    "We were running Jeff down a little bit at a time," Stewart said. "If we'd have had 10 or 15 more laps, we might have been able to catch him and get by."

    But Stewart was actually pretty happy to take a second-place finish.

    "I felt my car was down on power and I was more worried about the other guys gaining more than we could gain as the race went on," he said.

    Martin lost the Busch Series race Saturday to Burton after he got stuck behind the spinning car of Jack Sprague. On Sunday, he let Burton get by in traffic.

    "I didn't know it was going to rain and that we were about to stop racing," Martin said. "I would have tried harder to keep the lead. But I thought we were just one adjustment away from keeping the lead and never got a chance to make that adjustment."

    Burton, who has 12 career victories, also won two rain-shortened races in Darlington, S.C., last year, with the September win in the Southern 500 earning the big bonuses.

    Jeff Burton
    Jeff Burton overtakes Jerry Nadeau (25) during Sunday's victory in the 400.

    The victory raised Roush Racing's Las Vegas victory streak to six races, including Martin's win in the inaugural Winston Cup race in 1998 and in the Busch race in 1999, as well as Burton's wins in last year's Winston Cup event and Saturday's race, and a victory by Greg Biffle last September in the Craftsman Truck Series race.

    This is the third time that the South Boston, Va., native has won the $1 million No Bull 5 bonus awarded at five races during the year by the series sponsor. The eligible drivers -- the top five finishers in the previous No Bull 5 event -- are paired by random draw with a fan.

    In this case, Burton earned the big payoff for Joyce Williams of Port Isabel, Texas, who waited out the rain nervously in the back of a limousine parked in the garage area.

    Sunday's race, what there was of it, was pretty uneventful. The only other caution period before the second rainstorm began on lap 20 when the rain first pelted down. There was a 25-minute red flag that began on lap 41, but the track remained mostly dry.

    Under the green flag, the Fords looks as strong as they have in the two previous Las Vegas races, with Martin and Burton quickly moving to the top. They were running 1-2 by lap 19 after chasing down early leader Dale Earnhardt Jr.

    Labonte, who won the race in Rockingham, N.C., the previous Sunday, came into the race trailing Daytona 500 winner Jarrett by five points in the standings. Sunday's results put Labonte into the lead by four points over Jarrett, and 13 over Martin.

    Sam's Town belongs to Burton, as Roush doubles down again in Vegas

     Jeff Burton makes what became a winning move on teammate Mark Martin.
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     Tony Stewart talks about what could have been.
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     Breaking the Top Ten "Is what it is all about", says Joe Nemechek.
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