Mayfield takes NAPA 300

FONTANA, CA - Jeremy Mayfield, driver for the Penske-Kranefuss #12 Mobil 1 Ford Taurus, might not have a good week ahead of him after NASCAR admitted there was an 'issue' with the fuel tested after the DieHard 500 at Talladega.

Mayfield takes NAPA 300

Mayfield's response to NASCAR's 'issue' was: "We ain't running nothing. We don't need nothing."

That 'issue' will be revealed by the sanctioning body, possibly as early as Monday. Sunday, however, Mayfield was the winner, beating Bobby Labonte to the stripe by 0.300s, with Rookie Matt Kenseth solid in third. He recorded his second NASCAR Winston Cup Series career win in the NAPA Auto Parts 500 at the California Speedway, Penske's crowning achievement that cost millions of dollars to construct on a site that was formerly an ecological disaster.

Starting from 24th, Mayfield is the first driver to take a win from outside the top five starters.

"We needed this worse than anything in the world," said an exhausted Mayfield. "This team's strong, and we've been on our way. This helps a lot. We've been through a lot.

"Man, we had a great car."

Mayfield is the 10th different winner in as many races this season, and his first win since 1998 at Pocono Raceway. Mayfield also climbed two spots in the championship points standings - from ninth to seventh, by virtue of his win on Sunday afternoon. When the team headed to Darlington, Mayfield was 16th in the standings.

It was a hot day in Southern California and Mayfield's Taurus had heat added due to an oil line problem. At one point, the temperature gauge read over 300 degrees, and Mayfield was literally roasting.

"Evidently, we had a problem in the oil lines. This thing got up to 340 degrees all day long in the oil. It hung in there man. That won the race, right here. It wasn't Mobil 1, I'll tell you that.

"I think I burned my back. You know my seat got hot. I just got hot. I'm blistered up, I'm sure. My foot's burned, but you've got to suck it up some times. I was burning up in my car and everything else. It really shows how tough this team really is."

Dick Trickle brought out the fifth and final caution of the day on Lap 243. The green flag waved with just three laps remaining, and Mayfield's ignition failed, giving Bobby Labonte a chance to pull alongside. Mayfield quickly switched to the backup box and started pulling away.

"I couldn't believe that! I went into one and I was gonna run in deep, but it just quit running. I said, 'Man, this is our luck right here, you know.'

"I went on, switched boxes, and took off again and there we go -- won the race."

"On that restart, (Mayfield) kind of scared me," said Labonte. "I was going to try to get by him on the outside and he let off the gas and I thought he might be trying to block me and I hesitated a little. It messed up my momentum and my plans.

"Matt Kenseth would have won and I might have finished second if that yellow hadn't come out. He had the best car all day."

Kenseth led the most laps on Sunday - 119 of the 250 total. During the 4th caution period, Kenseth opted to put on four tyres, instead of two, and he returned to the track in the seventh spot. He worked his way back toward the front, when Trickle hit the wall.

"We didn't really need the caution. We had an excellent race car, but I was really struggling to come from the back. I just don't have the experience to get the thing to the front.

"In dirty air, around a lot of traffic, we were real, real loose. It took us 10 or 15 laps to get going. When we saw that caution, I just wanted to get four (tyres) because we had such a good car and I didn't think as many people would have gotten two as they did and I thought they would have fell back faster than they did. Hindsight is 20-20.

"I probably should have got two tyres and kept the lead and I don't think they could have got past us."

Ricky Rudd was happy with his fourth place finish.

"It got a little wild, it was actually a lot of fun there," said Rudd. "You always kind of held your breath a little bit on those restarts because you didn't know what to expect.

"Our day went pretty good. We were playing with the air-pressure all day, we didn't really make any chassis changes. We got stuck kind of on those tyres we didn't need to be on. The change before that, we had 'em adjusted air-pressure wise just right. We debated about staying on the race track, but we knew we had to come in and get four tyres for that last run.

"I'm a little disappointed that we didn't end on our best shot, but it was a great run -- a top five and we ran up front all day."

Fifth place Jeff Burton was just happy to finish where he did. He also had a problem and lost power momentarily on the final restart.

"We lost, for some reason I lost fuel pressure. It just skipped and missed and the fuel pressure light came on and the gauge went down to zero. It finally started running again over in one and two and down the back straightaway it was still missing a little bit, but it was a good day. I gave up a couple spots there at the end, but I am not too disappointed."

The race took 3 hours, 20 minutes and 50 seconds, at an average speed of 149.378 mph. There were 22 lead changes among 15 drivers and the pace was slowed for 22 laps by 5 cautions.

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series now heads to Richmond International Raceway for the Pontiac Excitement 400 on Saturday night, May 6.

Unofficial Results NAPA Auto Parts 500
California Speedway
Fontana, Calif. - April 30, 2000

1. (24) Jeremy Mayfield, Ford, 250, $125,925.
2. (36) Bobby Labonte, Pontiac, 250, $135,300.
3. (23) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 250, $114,325.
4. (3) Ricky Rudd, Ford, 250, $86,525.
5. (13) Jeff Burton, Ford, 250, $77,575.
6. (4) Ward Burton, Pontiac, 250, $76,725.
7. (1) Mike Skinner, Chevrolet, 250, $70,950.
8. (11) Rusty Wallace, Ford, 250, $64,150.
9. (33) Dale Jarrett, Ford, 250, $70,650.
10. (32) Tony Stewart, Pontiac, 250, $75,950.
11. (26) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 250, $64,475.
12. (20) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 250, $52,375.
13. (25) Jerry Nadeau, Chevrolet, 250, $53,475.
14. (5) Mark Martin, Ford, 250, $58,175.
15. (38) Chad Little, Ford, 250, $59,275.
16. (9) Steve Park, Chevrolet, 250, $51,875.
17. (35) Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 250, $59,075.
18. (12) Bobby Hamilton, Chevrolet, 250, $53,975.
19. (27) Bill Elliott, Ford, 250, $50,975.
20. (28) Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 250, $55,775.
21. (16) Robert Pressley, Ford, 249, $42,875.
22. (40) Kevin Lepage, Ford, 249, $50,075.
23. (14) Johnny Benson, Pontiac, 249, $41,775.
24. (18) Ken Schrader, Pontiac, 249, $41,475.
25. (10) John Andretti, Pontiac, 249, $56,875.
26. (30) Kyle Petty, Pontiac, 249, $48,975.
27. (22) Wally Dallenbach Jr., Ford, 249, $40,625.
28. (8) Stacy Compton, Ford, 249, $41,225.
29. (7) Darrell Waltrip, Ford, 248, $40,125.
30. (21) Michael Waltrip, Chevrolet, 248, $47,925.
31. (29) Robby Gordon, Ford, 248, $36,750.
32. (37) Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet, 248, $44,550.
33. (34) Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, 247, $54,350.
34. (6) Scott Pruett, Ford, 247, $36,750.
35. (43) Mike Bliss, Pontiac, 247, $35,975.
36. (41) Kenny Wallace, Chevrolet, 246, $43,900.
37. (42) Dick Trickle, Chevrolet, 239, accident, $43,700.
38. (17) Dave Blaney, Pontiac, 236, $35,525.
39. (15) Rick Mast, Pontiac, 220, $35,475.
40. (2) Jimmy Spencer, Ford, 219, accident, $43,400.
41. (31) Brett Bodine, Ford, 187, $35,350.
42. (39) Kenny Irwin, Chevrolet, 99, accident, $43,300.
43. (19) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 94, engine failure, $43,250.

Time of Race: 3 hrs. 20 min. 50 sec.
Margin of Victory: .300 second
Average Speed: 149.378 mph
Lead Changes: 22 among 15 drivers

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