Jarrett Show At Pocono
June 9, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
Dale Jarrett took advantage of teammate Rudd’s misfortune Sunday at Pocono Raceway, winning the Pocono 500 to end a 30-race winless streak and snap out of a season-long slump.
Rudd led 60 laps, the most of any driver, but had a flat right-rear tire go flat with less than 10 laps to go, handing the victory to Jarrett.
“I’m really hating it right now. I’m glad to be here, but my teammate’s having some terrible luck,” Jarrett said in victory lane. “They did a great job last week and got himself in position to win, and then had the unfortunate problem with the tire. Then today here.
“Don’t think I could have caught him. We were just so equal. It’s really hard when you’re trying to run down another Robert Yates engine. It makes it difficult. I hate it for those guys.”
Mark Martin finished a distant second to Jarrett, with Jimmie Johnson third, Sterling Marlin fourth and Jeff Gordon fifth. Jeff Burton was sixth, followed by Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip, Rusty Wallace and Dave Blaney.
Rudd’s tire went completely flat with two laps to go, and he bounced off the wall. He ended up 17th to make it two straight weeks where he had a shot at winning but finished outside the Top 15.
Last week at Dover, Rudd changed four tires on a late pit stop and was moving in on eventual winner Johnson. But a wheel started to shake loose on Rudd’s car, and he had to make a green-flag stop to tighten it and ended up 19th.
“We were just sitting up front,” Rudd said. “I thought we were in great shape. I opened up some daylight on DJ. He wasn’t catching us. I thought it was going to be a 1-2 Yates finish, and it looked like the 28 was going to win. All of a sudden, I said, ‘Hey, guys, I’ve got a slow leak. I’ve got a flat tire.’ ”
Jarrett’s season has been a difficult one. RYR added crew chief Jimmy Elledge to the team, moving Todd Parrott to the team manager’s role. That didn’t work, and Elledge left the team in April.
Parrott retook the job as crew chief, but Jarrett still struggled. He came to Pocono 13th in the points standings with five finishes of 24th or worse.
But Pocono has been good to Jarrett, as he scored his third victory on the 2.5-mile track. It was the 29th win of his career.
Jarrett credited a test at Kentucky Speedway last week for helping the team run well at Pocono.
“We learned some things there that we applied here,” Jarrett said. “We were there until 10:30 at night and got home at 1:30, 2 o’clock in the morning. That just shows the dedication of these guys.”
Fuel mileage looked to be the determining factor in the race, as Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip and Elliott Sadler were going to go the remaining 40 laps without stopping, while Rudd and the other leaders were going to have to stop for fuel.
But on Lap 168, the fuel question went out the window as debris was spotted in Turn 3, bringing out a caution.
Under that yellow, Jeff Burton pitted for fuel only, while Sterling Marlin and Tony Stewart changed only right-side tires. Rudd’s and Jarrett’s crews put on four fresh tires, and they restarted fourth and seventh, respectively.
But they were clearly the two fastest cars, and Rudd got the lead from Burton with 21 laps to go. Jarrett moved into second but was about one second behind Rudd as the race wound down.
Rudd’s tire started going down, though, and Jarrett shot by for the lead as Rudd drifted back in the field.
Marlin maintained his lead in the points standings on Johnson, who trails by 136 points. Gordon is in third, 165 behind.
Bobby Labonte, Matt Kenseth, Ward Burton and some other drivers had transmission troubles on a track where drivers shift once or twice a lap – something unique on an oval.
Evernham Motorsports drivers Jeremy Mayfield and Bill Elliott, both former winners at Pocono, both blew engines Sunday.
The next race on the Winston Cup schedule is the Sirius Satellite Radio 400 at Michigan International Speedway next Sunday.