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Winston Cup Series

Sunday, September 28

Wild race had a couple of crashes
Associated Press

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- The EA Sports 500 was bumper-to-bumper from the ninth lap to the checkered flag Sunday, a mayhem-filled race that sent two drivers to the hospital and even saw a crew member get struck in pit row.

"We just hope we walk away from this place every time we come here," said Tony Stewart, who finished third behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. and winner Michael Waltrip.

Larry Foyt and Elliott Sadler were both flown to University Hospital in Birmingham for precautionary measures after separate crashes. They were evaluated and released Sunday evening.

Sadler's wreck was the scariest of all, but he was OK. The polesitter moved from sixth to third on the 182nd lap, then had contact with Kurt Busch's car and flipped a half-dozen times down onto the grass at Talladega Superspeedway.

"He said he was alert through the whole ride," said Todd Parrott, Sadler's crew chief. "He said, 'It was a pretty wild ride, wasn't it?'

"He's upset because he had a car capable of winning the race, but the main thing is he's OK."

Another fright came when Christian Fittipaldi tangled with Sadler in the pits, sending Fittipaldi's car into his jack man, who already had jumped over the wall.

Archie Kennedy was sent flying through the air, but wasn't seriously injured.

The race ended with several cars spinning out after the checkered flag went up.

Ripping the rules
NASCAR again tweaked the rules for the restrictor plate race, widening the plate opening a hair to increase horsepower and offsetting it with raised spoilers for better handling.

The verdict?

"I don't think the aero package is the right way to go," Earnhardt said. "I see a lot of bumping and carrying on. I've never run into so many people and been run into so many times."

Jeff Gordon, who finished fifth, isn't sure the changes helped much, calling it a successful race "when it's all over and we can breathe again and we've got the car in one piece.

"They (the rules changes) might work good at Daytona, but I just don't know what they're looking for here at Talladega."

Kenseth's big lead
Matt Kenseth doesn't need to worry yet, but he did lose a chunk of his huge lead in the Winston Cup standings. Engine problems took Kenseth out of the race on the 159th lap, giving him a 33rd-place finish.

He's still got a 354-point cushion over Kevin Harvick, with Earnhardt 30 points further back after making up 106.

"Obviously we have a pretty good point lead and we just need to go race hard the rest of the races and we should be OK, but we can't have more stuff break," Kenseth said.

When asked if the performance gave him hope of catching up, Earnhardt told reporters, "It gives y'all hope. I'm just going week to week. We'll see how it is."

Remembering Davey
Before Little E, there was Little A.

Davey Allison, like Earnhardt, an enormously popular offspring of another famous driver, was honored before Sunday's EA Sports 500.

Allison, son of Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, was killed in a helicopter crash while attempting to land at the speedway in 1993.

Bobby Allison, the 1983 Winston Cup Series champion, ran a "victory lap" before the race. Davey Allison's widow Liz and children Robbie and Krista were also on hand for the pre-race ceremonies, along with his mother Judy.

"He just had a rare quality that was a star quality," Allison's widow said. "I think people were drawn to him for that. It's really lasted all these years. He was a great guy, a fantastic race car driver.

"I think so many people saw him as the future of this sport."

Davey Allison won his first race as a 26-year-old rookie at the speedway, an hour east of his hometown of Hueytown.

Jamie McMurray raced in a car with the same colors and paint scheme as the one used by Davey Allison when he won at Talladega in 1987. McMurray's sponsor, Havoline, once backed Allison's team.

Upshot on Buckshot
Buckshot Jones was in an unfamiliar position. Jones had led only twice -- one lap each time -- in his first 55 Winston Cup races, but raced up front from laps 23 through 41 on Sunday. His day ended with an accident on the 89th lap.

Jones was making only his second Winston Cup start of the season and hadn't led a lap since Michigan in June 2001. He lost his lead to Waltrip, who owns his car.

Tony's migraine
Stewart spent most of the previous day crashed out on his bus watching TV and trying to shake a migraine. It wasn't clear until Sunday morning if he was going to be able to race.

"When I woke up this morning and opened windows and everything was fine," Stewart said after the race. "Yesterday, when I opened up the windows, I was like a vampire bat, it hurt to look at the sunlight.

"During the race, none of it came back. I felt good in the car all day."

Waltrip wins wild one at Talladega

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