MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Rusty Wallace held off Bobby Labonte
for the last 30 laps Sunday to end his 105-race winless streak --
and more than five hours on the track at Martinsville Speedway
under a blazing sun.
The Advance Auto Parts 500 was halted for more than an hour with
210 laps to go after a block of concrete came loose in the third
turn, leaving a dangerous hole a foot long and a foot wide in the
Wallace, whose last victory came on April 29, 2001, at
California Speedway, passed Jimmie Johnson for the lead on the
456th lap and pulled away on a restart with 38 laps left as the
cars behind him battled for position. He held on after Labonte
emerged from the pack and tried to chase him down.
"Finally," he said after emerging from the car in Victory Lane
with his arms raised. "... That was a long streak, we finally broke that losing streak. It's about time. Damn,
that's great. It's a wonderful feeling. It's a good run for us."
He finished .538 seconds ahead of Labonte for his 55th career
"I'm so glad to win again," he said. "Man, it's been so long
and we've gotten so close. The fans have been behind me forever and
ever, pulling for me really hard. This one's for them."
The hole on the track, 2-to-3 inches deep, damaged defending
race champion Jeff Gordon's car and may have cost him a chance at a
third straight victory on the .526-mile oval, where he's also won
three straight poles.
During the delay, the hole was patched with a sealant and didn't
cause any more problems.
Gordon, who was running second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and seemed
to have a winning car until it was damaged, dropped to 22nd in the
field after a series of stops for repairs under a caution flag.
He rallied to finish sixth.
Earnhardt finished third and Johnson was fourth, giving
Chevrolet the next three spots on the finishing grid behind
"I just love this race track," Earnhardt said after his fifth
straight top-five finish here. "I want to win here so bad I can't
Ryan Newman was fifth, also in a Dodge, followed by Gordon,
Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Sterling Marlin and Dale Jarrett.
The race was slowed 11 times for 106 laps by caution, including
the six laps before and the 11 laps after the repairs to the track