Nadeau Doesnt Rudd Does

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A driver benefited from another driver’s bad luck, and one of those guys was Ricky Rudd.

This time, though, Rudd was on the good end of the luck scale. Jerry Nadeau broke a rear-end gear with three laps to go while in the lead Sunday, giving Rudd the break he didn’t get over the last month.

Rudd took advantage, easily beating Tony Stewart to the checkered flag in the Dodge/Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway.

“I’m not sure who was in the 44 – Jerry Nadeau? – I felt for him,” Rudd said. “We weren’t going to catch him. I hated to win it this way with bad luck for somebody else, but we’ll take it.”

Nadeau, in a one-race appearance in the No. 44 Dodge, got the lead when Bill Elliott spun with 20 laps left. Nadeau was comfortably out front of Rudd, who has changed tires under the last caution but wasn’t going to catch Nadeau.

That ended when Nadeau suddenly slowed with three laps to go, reminiscent of Nadeau’s race last year at Atlanta, when he ran out of gas on the last lap while in the lead. Nadeau ended up 34th.

“With about four to go, she was tightening up pretty bad,” Nadeau said. “It was either the motor or the rear-end gear. It was the rear-end gear. It finally broke coming off Turn 11. I drove my ass off. The guys did an awesome job, Greg Steadman, everybody at the Pettys. The motor ran great.

“This is the way my career’s been. I always have a little bit of bad luck.”

Rudd, meanwhile, has had poor luck in the last few races. He was leading at Pocono when he had a flat tire, was chasing Jimmie Johnson at Dover when a wheel got loose and was leading at Richmond when the lapped car of Rusty Wallace cut a tire and wrecked Rudd.

Sunday, though, the shoe was on the other foot – the fast-moving feet of Rudd.

“Maybe we were owed something, but probably not at Jerry Nadeau’s expense,” Rudd said. “It would have been good to see those guys win. We’ve had two or three slip away. I saw him pull over and said, ‘Man, that looks like our bad luck.”

Stewart finished 3.8 second behind Rudd in second, with Terry Labonte third, Kurt Busch fourth and Jeff Green fifth. Elliott Sadler was sixth, followed by Mark Martin, Elliott, Ryan Newman and John Andretti.

Sunday’s race certainly wasn’t a good one for the Winston Cup points leaders. Sterling Marlin, who came into the race with 110-point lead on Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, started overheating early in the race. What happened? A rock came off the track and knocked the water-pump belt off.

Marlin completed only 19 laps and finished dead last.

Jeff Gordon looked to be the beneficiary of Marlin’s troubles after leading 32 of the first 33 laps, but the rear-end gear in Gordon’s Chevrolet broke and he spent seven laps behind the wall repairing it. Gordon finished 37th.

Johnson raced in the Top 15 most of the day but slowed late in the event and ended up 35th.

After Gordon went out, Kurt Busch spent time up front, and then John Andretti got the lead with a timely pit stop before a caution flag.

Andretti lost the lead in the pits under a caution for Boris Said’s spin on Lap 85, with Bill Elliott and other staying on the track to assume to top spots. But Elliott spun out of the lead, putting Nadeau out front before his troubles.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series gets next weekend off before heading to Daytona for the Pepsi 400 on July 6.

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