Inascar Notebook:/I Pruett Finishes 10Th

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INDIANAPOLIS -- Scott Pruett, a Winston Cup rookie, became the seventh driver to compete in the Brickyard 400 and the Indianapolis 500.

Pruett, Indy's co-rookie of the year in 1989, last drove at the Speedway in 1995, the year before the split between CART and IRL. He started 11th Saturday and wound up 10th, the same position he finished in his first Indy 500 race.

"What I remember most is the awesomeness of Indianapolis. ... The intensity and the excitement are very similar," Pruett said. "Realizing I was 10 years younger and a little more excitable, the biggest difference is you're here for this for three days.

"When I came here in 1989, it was for a month. There's a lot more buildup to it than for this race. But for excitement, it's right on par."

Pruett was the highest finisher among six rookies in Saturday's race, but said it wasn't easy making the adjustment from open-wheel Indy cars to stock cars.

"The biggest obstacle was trying to drive the car too hard," he said. "I'm used to driving as deep into the turns as you can. (Winston) Cup cars are not like that at all. After coming here for tests a few weeks ago ... I knew it was going to be hard. There's not many parallels."

The others who have driven in both races at Indianapolis are A.J. Foyt, Danny Sullivan, Robby Gordon, Geoff Brabham, John Andretti and Tony Stewart.

Stewart started 18th Saturday and finished fifth, the best Brickyard finish for a former Indy driver.

Andretti started 15th Saturday but finished 42nd after he had a flat tire and hit the wall on the 42nd lap. He was not injured.

"I thought the track was in good shape," Andretti said. "You expect Indy to get slick, but we blew a right-front tire. ... I don't know what happened. Maybe we built some more heat in there with the brakes or whatever. I don't know what to say. I'm not delirious, I'm just upset."
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Pole Jinx? The pole-position starter has never won the Brickyard 400.

Ricky Rudd, a former Brickyard winner who set a track record in qualifying on Thursday, led the first 17 laps but finished a distant 21st, a lap behind the leaders.

"The car just got too tight," he said. "It just wasn't our day."

The best finish for a pole-sitter in the seven Brickyard 400 races was third by Jeff Gordon in 1999. Gordon also had the worst finish for a pole-sitter when he was 37th in 1996.

Rudd said once he got behind, he couldn't catch up because there were no caution flags after the 46th lap. That meant he had to take his pit stops under the green and fall even farther behind.

"There wasn't any chance, because our car needed some serious adjusting and we never got a chance to do it," he said.
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Fleeting Fame: Stacy Compton gets his name in the record book as a lap leader in the Brickyard 400 -- even though he had only a momentary stay at the head of the pack.

The Winston Cup rookie, a provisional starter at the rear of the field, stayed on the track when everyone else made pit stops following a crash by Mark Martin on lap 16.

Under the yellow, Compton led the field for one lap before he came into the pits, too. That gave the lead to Rusty Wallace, and Compton again dropped to the back. He finished 37th, three laps down.

"We had a bunch of changes we wanted to make on the car and knew we were going to come out fairly close to the back anyway, so we figured it was a chance to lead a lap and get five extra bonus points," Compton said. "Five extra bonus points could mean a lot one day, and we might as well get in that practice right now."

Compton is the third driver to lead in his first Brickyard 400, not counting the inaugural race in 1994. Johnny Benson led for 70 laps in 1996, and Mike Skinner led for eight laps in 1997. Compton is the first driver to lead the race after starting in last position. The previous lowest starting position for a lap leader was 42nd, by Harry Gant in 1994.
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Streak Ends: Terry Labonte, older brother of Brickyard 400 winner Bobby Labonte, wasn't the only person who had an impressive streak come to an end Saturday.

Ken Schrader, the only driver to complete every lap in each of the first six Brickyard 400s, finished 22nd, one lap short of the finish. He is now tied with Bobby Labonte and Bill Elliott, who also have completed 1,119 of a possible 1,120 laps at the Brickyard.

The elder Labonte, recovering from a July 1 crash at Daytona, decided to sit out the Brickyard, ending his record string of consecutive NASCAR starts at 655. He watched from the pits.

"I hated for him that he wasn't in the race, but I think he made the right decision," Bobby Labonte said.

"It was more frustrating than disappointing watching the race," Terry said. "I watched him (Bobby) the whole race, and I was real nervous the last few laps."

Todd Bodine, who started in place of Terry Labonte, finished 15th.
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Remembering Irwin: In a pre-race ceremony, Speedway officials dedicated the Brickyard to the late Kenny Irwin Jr., an Indianapolis native killed July 7 during Winston Cup practice in Loudon, N.H.

Saturday would have been his 31st birthday.

Irwin was the 1998 Winston Cup rookie of the year. Ted Musgrave, who joined Sabco Racing in place of Irwin, finished 24th Saturday, a lap behind the leaders.

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