Jarrett wins Daytona 500

Dale Jarrett won his third Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway Sunday under the caution after Jimmy Spencer's right front tyre let go just before the white flag lap.

Jarrett wins Daytona 500

Jarrett had passed Johnny Benson for the lead the lap before, and by the time all was said and done, Benson was back in 12th.

Jarrett and Mark Martin had agreed to be dancing partners, but when the time came for Jarrett to go, he had to leave Martin behind in order to protect his own position.

Jarrett apologised afterwards, saying he felt badly about it. Martin finished fifth.

Jarrett's race winning car will now go on display at Daytona USA for the next year, and Jeff Gordon will get his car back.

A large percentage of the race was the usual superspeedway follow-the-leader up front.

Most of the passing and dicing went on from mid-pack to the back as drivers jockeyed for position, which equals points in the championship standings.

The first caution waved on Lap 33 for oil on the track.

Jeff Gordon, last year's race winner, was showing smoke off the rear of his Monte Carlo and NASCAR ordered him to his pit.

The crew raised the hood and found it would take more to discover the cause of the problem, so the Dupont machine was pushed behind the wall.

After five laps clicked off, most under yellow, Gordon returned to the track in last position.

Tony Stewart had a problem leaving pit road after a green flag stop around the 90th lap.

Joe Gibbs Racing team mate Bobby Labonte was pitting directly ahead of Stewart.

Labonte's right rear used tyre was laid down and unfortunately Stewart caught the tyre on his front air dam when he left his stall.

He swerved from right to left several times until the tyre finally slid off to the left toward the pit wall.

Dale Earnhardt had a pro-longed stop when his gasman, Chocolate Myers, slipped and the can missed the receptacle.

Myers quickly righted himself, gas went in and Earnhardt went back out.

Mark Martin inherited the lead when the field pitted.

He had pitted a few laps earlier for a tyre that was worn to the threads.

Martin had been following Jarrett for many laps and the bare threads may have resulted from the natural push that occurs in a drafting situation.

Tyre problems were not significant during the afternoon.

The second caution of the day waved for Joe Nemechek on Lap 132.

Nemechek's machine was leaking fluid, and he retired behind the wall - finished for the day.

The caution was just what Mark Martin needed to get him back in sequence with the rest of the field and he stayed on the point, with Jarrett behind, following their stops.

Bobby Labonte received a stop and go penalty from NASCAR when a tyre rolled the across pit road in front of others heading back to the track.

A third caution was called with just 44 laps remaining.

Bill Elliott's car caught something as he was leaving his pit and tossed it across pit road, but the more serious incident occurred when Stewart had a tyre in front of his car.

Mike Lingerfelt, a mechanic on weekdays for the Home Depot team, tried to move the tyre out of Stewart's way but wasn't quick enough.

He placed the tyre in front of his body just before Stewart hit him.

Lingerfelt was taken to the infield care centre suffering from a leg injury.

The race went back to green with just under 40 remaining showing Johnny Benson in the lead, and the racing began in earnest.

Elliott shot up the high side while Martin took the low lane, with a lap car as the filling.

Almost as quickly, caution four was called when Derrike Cope lost the powerplant and brushed the Turn 3 wall.

Benson held onto the point, with Elliott in second, followed by Martin, Earnhardt, Earnhardt Jr., Jarrett, J.Burton, Rusty Wallace and Mike Skinner.

Then, with just eight laps remaining, all heck broke loose when Earnhardt, Jr. bumped the rear of Michael Waltrip.

Waltrip slid up into Jimmy Spencer, who had the middle lane, and pushed him into Earnhardt while Waltrip's car went to the wall directly in front of Earnhardt.

Waltrip then slid back down the track where Elliott Sadler got a piece of the spinning machine, and cars were going in every direction.

Kenny Wallace also ended up in the grass when he got caught up in the fray.

There were just 4 laps remaining and it was a shootout with Benson still on the point.

Jarrett put the nose on Benson's rear bumper and took the lead as Benson drifted back through the pack - known as having no friends for whatever reason.

Jimmy Spencer's right front tyre let go with just three laps remaining and he crashed hard into the outside wall.

The caution flag waved with the white flag and the field motored around behind the pace car to give Dale Jarrett his third Daytona 500 win.

Jeff Burton, Bill Elliott, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Ward Burton, Ken Schrader and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-10.

Benson wound up with a 12th place finish.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series now travels to North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, N.C., for the Dura-Lube/Kmart 400 on February 27th.

Top ten:






D Jarrett




J Burton




B Elliott




R Wallace




M Martin




B Labonte




T Labonte




W Burton




K Schrader




M Kenseth



42nd Daytona 500 starting line-up

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