June 18, 2001 | 2:00 A.M. EST
Two Petty cars – John Andretti and Buckshot Jones – were involved in separate crashes within 25 laps of each other early in the Pocono 500, then another blew an engine with 15 laps to go.
Andretti sustained heavy damage in a 14-car incident that was triggered when Brett Bodine spun off Turn 1.
“Everybody started crossing in front of me,” said Andretti, whose team made repairs to get him back in the race, where he finished 50 laps down in 39th. “I slowed down, but I had been hit so much in the back that I didn’t stop. I should have just stopped, and that would have been good enough, but I didn’t and got involved in another deal.”
Later, Jones pushed off Turn 1, and when he turned it back to make the corner, Jason Leffler was on his inside. The two got together, spun and hit the inside wall.
“It was more of a racing deal than anything – nobody’s fault,” Jones said. “It’s the first time we’ve been here, and it looked like we were heading toward a decent finish.”
Instead, Jones finished 42nd.
With 15 laps to go, Kyle Petty’s engine let go, and he ended up 34th.
“I’m not sure what went wrong, but the car hadn’t been good all day,” Petty said.
Tough Deal: Rusty Wallace lost a lot of track position on Lap 120 when the caution came out when Bodine’s car stopped in the warm-up lane inside Turn 3.
Wallace was coming out of the pits and was past the finish line as leader Jeff Gordon took the yellow flag, but Gordon passed Wallace before they got to the end of pit road… which is where NASCAR scores cars in caution conditions such as this.
Wallace’s crew argued he should get to go around to the back of the lead-lap line because he was ahead of Gordon at the finish line, but NASCAR kept Wallace – and 10 other cars who had just pitted – at the end of the lead lap in front of the leaders on the next restart. Leader Dale Jarrett put Wallace a lap down moments later.
“I still disagree with the call that put us a lap down,” Wallace said. “They said that the 24 beat us to the end of pit road when the yellow flew, but he didn’t slow down after taking the yellow. We should have been in front of the 24 and been allowed to come all the way back around.
“We probably should have just sped down pit road.”
No More Lobsters: Sterling Marlin finished fourth Sunday, but he was in survival mode in the final laps.
“I’m not going to eat any more lobsters before a race, that’s for sure,” Marlin said. “I ate one right before the race started. It didn’t taste right, and I only ate a few bites and threw it away. I felt pretty rough the last 100 laps.”
Sign Time: Ron Hornaday has found a unique way to deal with autograph seekers.
“We’re walking, we’re signing autographs – all we have to do is say, ‘Hey, there’s Dale Jr.’ And they’re all gone over (to him),” Hornaday said.
Hornaday was kidding, of course. He said Sunday he’s astonished by the fans’ support. After the ARCA race Saturday, a heavy storm soaked Pocono, but fans hung around and were clamoring for drivers to sign anything.
“I sat there with the fans in the rain,” Hornaday said. “It’s amazing what they’re doing. They’re soaking wet, and they still want you to sign a wet shirt. And you ruin a Sharpie. I probably went through 30 Sharpies last night signing autographs.”
On cue, Kurt Busch, who is sponsored by the penmaker Sharpie, handed Hornaday another pen.
Thanks Dad: Several children of drivers and crew chiefs spoke about their dads in the Motor Racing Outreach chapel service, and a couple kids had memorable words.
Jimmy Spencer’s 15-year-old son, Jim, said he was thankful “my dad never forgets.”
Tommy Baldwin III, whose dad is crew chief for Ward Burton, said he was thankful his dad was from New York “so he can give me this great accent.”
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