Formula One
 Tuesday, June 27
Gordon still king of road at Sears Point
 Associated Press

Inside Track
  • Same car. Same track. Same driver. Add those three things together, multiply by two road races a year, and you get a sixth straight road course win for Gordon. Ah, but if it were only that simple. Sure, there were doubts about whether Gordon would continue his mastery of the road without a certain crew chief. But over 112 laps, Gordon didn't make a mistake, his car was stronger than any other, and the only question was answered when Gordon had enough gas to take his annual victory lap through the Napa wine country. STERLING SILVER
  • Admit it, you were waiting for Sterling Marlin to fade. But like Gordon, Marlin didn't make one wrong turn, miss a shift, or wilt under the California sun. His second-place run was a career best and came in his 30th start on the road.
  • They ran nose-to-tail for the better part of the final 50 laps. Bobby Labonte, Dale Earnhardt and Dale Jarrett seemed to be content to do their time on the road and move on to Daytona. In the end, Labonte matched a career-best by finishing fourth; Earnhardt came from 29th to finish sixth and DJ was right behind the Intimidator in seventh. The best effort, however, came from Jeff Burton, who made up two laps after springing a leak in his oil line, to come home a points-saving 16th.
    1. Bobby Labonte, 2,400
    2. Dale Earnhardt, 2,333
    3. Dale Jarrett, 2,271
    4. Ward Burton, 2,196
    5. Jeff Burton, 2,134
  • The final race for the famed No. 43 with STP's colors ended in flames when John Andretti got the worst of a Brett Bodine spin on Lap 14. The Pontiac, displaying the 1972 paint scheme which Richard Petty debuted in Riverside, caught fire after rear-ending a car during the incident. Andretti climbed out of the car without injury. STP will continue as an associate sponsor with Petty Enterprises, but General Foods will now be the primary sponsor of the 43 car starting next weekend at Daytona.
  • While his 43 Pontiac didn't make it to the end, Andretti did finish 12th in a Pontiac. Andretti replaced Tony Stewart, who battled flu-like symptoms all afternoon, on Lap 68. Andretti wasn't the only driver to finish in a car he didn't start in. Boris Said, who was running in the top 10 when his steering went out and forced him into a tire barrier, replaced Robert Pressley and finished 37th.
  • While Gordon finished first, one driver finally found his way to the front of the pack. Kenny Wallace led his first laps of the 2000 season, thus becoming the final driver who's started all 16 races to lead at least one lap.
  • Sears Point is no place for a rookie, and the final results showed why. Mike Bliss ... yes, Mike Bliss ... was the top rookie, finishing 21st. Bliss was on his way to a top-15 finish, but spun while running 13th late in the race. Pruett, who showed his road-racing background by leading several circuits, wound up 39th after an eventful 67th lap. Matt Kenseth, who started the race leading the rookie points battle, had his roughest outing of the year, finishing 32nd. Dale Jr. was 24th, while Dave Blaney started last and finished 29th. Stacey Compton rounded out the rookies with a 31st-place run.
  • SONOMA, Calif. -- Jeff Gordon needed this.

    The three-time Winston Cup champion extended his road course winning streak to six consecutive races on Sunday when he decisively won the Save Mart Kragen 350 on the twists and turns of Sears Point Raceway.

    Gordon, who is working with a new crew chief, has had an uneven season with only one other win, at Talladega. Going into the race, he acknowledged the road course was important.

    "I didn't expect to win," he said, "but I knew I could win."

    It was Gordon's third straight victory on the 1.95-mile track in the hills of Northern California's wine country.

    "We have won the last five road courses and the last two here, so I hoped we had what it would take to do it again," he said. "I knew if we didn't have a strong run, there was going to be even more pressure, more people pointing fingers."

    Gordon, who started fifth, traded the lead with several drivers over the course of the 112-lap race, but managed his fuel and kept his Chevrolet in front for the final 26 laps to finish 4.1 seconds in front of Sterling Marlin. Mark Martin finished close behind in third.

    "I knew I was faster," Gordon said of the 43-car field. "I knew I could put the heat on them and see if I could make them make a mistake."

    Crew chief Robbie Loomis said Gordon had just enough gas.

    "I think it was really close," Loomis said. "I think we had enough for one more lap but it's hard to tell on a road course how much he's using and how much the car's using."

    Gordon started his record road-course streak in 1997 at Watkins Glen, N.Y., the only other serpentine track on the Winston Cup circuit.

    "He's real smooth," Marlin said after Sunday's race.

    Rusty Wallace, a road-course specialist with six overall victories on tracks with right turns, had the pole but finished a disappointing 26th.

    In Winston Cup history, only Gordon, Wallace, Bobby Allison and Richard Petty have had six road course victories. Gordon is the only one with consecutive wins.

    Wallace had qualified with a track record 99.309 mph on Friday. With his new Ford road-course car, Wallace beat Gordon's previous best of 98.711 mph on the track's current configuration, set during qualifying in 1998.

    Wallace has won three of the last four poles, and six overall this season -- the most for any driver on the Winston Cup circuit.

    Starting alongside Wallace in the front row was Kyle Petty, the sentimental favorite. Petty finished 19th.

    Adam Petty, Kyle's eldest son and the sport's first fourth-generation driver, was killed May 12 during practice for a Busch Series race at New Hampshire International Raceway. Family patriarch Lee Petty, racing great Richard Petty's father and Kyle's grandfather, passed away at age 86 in April.

    John Andretti, who also drives for Petty Enterprises, made an early departure Sunday when his car burst into flames on the 14th lap. Andretti climbed unharmed from the Pontiac, then stomped angrily away.

    At 25 laps down, Andretti tried to return to the race in his repaired car but lasted just five laps before pulling out of the race.

    Andretti, however, wasn't finished driving. He took over for Tony Stewart, who said he was bothered by stomach flu, after a spin-out on the 68th lap. Stewart was pale and weak when he was pulled from his Pontiac, and crew members tired to help by putting a bag of ice on his chest.

    Stewart was later treated for heat exhaustion and nausea.

    "It's hard," he said. "Nobody likes to get out of a car, especially one that they know can win the race."

    Jeff Gordon
    Jeff Gordon takes the checkered flag to win the Save Mart/Kragen 350 at Sears Point Raceway -- his sixth consecutive road course win.

    Stewart was following leader Scott Pruett when he spun out. The accident allowed Gordon to take second before Pruett skidded and ran off the track, slamming hard into a tire barrier. Pruett's Ford was done for the day.

    "It was a big shot," Pruett said. "I came forward and hit the steering wheel and took a pretty good shot to the throat. My doctor said to keep and eye on it and go get an X-ray."

    Andretti finished 10th for Stewart. The accident brought out a caution and allowed Gordon to take the lead for the second time Sunday. There were four cautions for 13 laps during the race.

    There were 10 lead changes among eight drivers. Gordon finished in 2 hours, 46 minutes, 14 seconds with an average speed of 78.782 mph.

    Martin, who started his Ford in the sixth spot, couldn't overtake Marlin on the final laps.

    "We finished the race too fast and started the race too slow," he said.

    Furr: Gordon on road back

    Save Mart 350 results

    Notebook: Earnhardt says Pocono bump 'just racing'

     Jeff Gordon wins his sixth consecutive road course race in the Save Mart Kragen 350.
    avi: 1507 k
    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

     Tony Stewart takes a serious spin on the 68th lap.
    avi: 1420 k
    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

     Scott Pruett runs off track and slams hard into the tire barrier.
    avi: 753 k
    RealVideo: 56.6 | ISDN | T1

     Bobby Labonte talks about his fourth-place finish.
    wav: 170 k
    RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6

     Sterlin Martin comments on his run at Sears Point Raceway.
    wav: 86 k
    RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6