Another Crazy Winston Cup Day

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2002 Charlotte 2 Race Recap

The Key Moment –
When Dale Jarrett broke off his battle with Jerry Nadeau to give the leaders room to race the balance tipped in favor of Jamie McMurray.

In a Nutshell – Are you kidding me? That was worth waiting for.

Dramatic Moment – Things don’t get much more exciting than those final ten laps as the rookie kid battled it out with the former Winston Cup champion. Shades of Atlanta in 2000.

The lap 231 wreck threatened to decimate the field.

What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week

How does a relative unknown take a win in his second Winston Cup race? I mean it took Harvick three whole races, right?

I bet the former Miss Winston didn’t think she’d be back in victory lane so soon. (Cielo Garcia, who started this season as Miss Winston was forced to resign her position because she's dating Jamie McMurray.)

Wasn’t that a classy gesture by Sterling Marlin to call Jamie in victory lane?

Who invented this green/yellow starting joke and how do we vote them off the island?

What’s got into Mark Martin? He normally drives so clean but today he was knocking into everyone.

If most of the country is in a drought how comes it rains during every race weekend?

Was Stewart giving it all he had in the closing laps?

How stoned was Kid Rock when they interviewed him?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Bill Elliott’s shredded rear tire ended a top 10 run and damaged the right side of the car extensively without the need for a Bodine. Not a great day for Ray Evernham either, as his other driver, Jeremy Mayfield fell out of the race on the same lap.

Richard Childress saw all three of his cars badly damaged in the lap 231 wreck. And here’s the weird part. None of his drivers caused the wreck. As for Ward Burton he’s probably the only guy who could get struck by lightning out of the clear blue sky twice on the same day.

Ricky Rudd took a savage hit that’s probably realistically eliminated him from any outside chance at this year’s championship after cutting down a tire.

Matt Kenseth had a strong car all day at one of his favorite race tracks but lost an engine late in the going while still in contention for the lead.

Of the realistic title contenders Martin had the worst luck at Charlotte nursing a wounded engine home to 16th.

Kurt Busch’s car never seemed to be right again after he Wall-y Dallen-bashed the turn four wall.

You think that was pleasant for Sterling Marlin to be sitting at home watching the car he normally pilots winning the race?

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Bobby Labonte recovered from two flat tires to finish second.

Jerry Nadeau had to take to the sodden muddy infield to avoid the big wreck, managed to keep his car straight and finished 13th.

Think last week’s mechanical carnage shook up the Hendrick drivers? Both Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson radioed into the pits that they thought their engines were letting go. In Gordon’s case it was a cracked header pipe. In Johnson’s case it was a loose wheel. They rebounded to finish fourth and sixth respectively.

What a roller coaster weekend for Ryan Newman. He had the fastest car in practice, but wrecked it and had to start at the rear of the field. The back up car was one of the slowest in final practice. He went down a lap twice, but managed to get back on the lead lap both times. He recovered to finish eighth.

Worth Noting

McMurray becomes the fourth first time winner this season joining Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson.

The win was the first for a Dodge since Bill Elliott won the Brickyard.

Since the crew chief change Jeff Burton has finished 11th and seventh.

Ryan Newman scored his seventh consecutive top ten finish.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. now how three straight top ten finishes.

Bobby Labonte’s second place result was only his fourth top five of the season.

What’s the Points?

Tony Stewart increased his points lead to 97 markers over new second place man Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson and Mark Martin swapped second and third spots with Martin leaving Charlotte 122 points behind Stewart.

Sunday’s big points gainer in the top ten was Kurt Busch who jumped two spots to ninth. Jeff Gordon advanced one spot to sixth.

Matt Kenseth and Ricky Rudd each lost a spot and are now seventh and tenth respectively.

Only three drivers, Stewart, Johnson and Martin can leave Martinsville next week with the points lead. Stewart only needs to finish 21st or better at Martinsville to ensure he remains on top.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) We’ll give this one four cans of real cold Colorado Kool-Aid. That’s one of the better races in recent memory.

Next Up – Pack up the hammers, boys, it’s off to the Martinsville bull ring.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2002

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