Wallace grabs his Pocono chance

Rusty Wallace was in the right place at the right time to take the win in the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Wallace grabs his Pocono chance

Wallace held off fellow Ford pedaller Jeff Burton at the stripe to win his second race of the season by 0.126s. Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five.

As the white flag waved to signal the final lap, it seemed certain that Wallace's team mate Jeremy Mayfield would be the driver celebrating victory at the triangular track for the second consecutive time this season.

But nothing is certain apart from death and taxes, as Mayfield found out when one of his tyres lost pressure as he exited the Tunnel Turn.

"I didn't see anything, but you know how it is," said Mayfield with obvious disappointment. "I mean, sometimes you do that, you just run over something and who knows?

"No, I couldn't believe it went flat," he added, "but the last time I was here we had a spectacular finish on the last lap too, so I guess the track owed me one. We'll take it from there and go on to Indy. This will be the car we take, so it should be a good one."

The last time the Winston Cup raced at Pocono, Mayfield bumped Dale Earnhardt out of the way to take the lead and the win on the final lap.

Mechanical failures were one of the big stories of the day. A total of 13 cars retired due to engine, transmission or differential failures. Martin Martin was the first driver to park behind the wall. His powerplant gave up on Lap 25.

"We broke a part in the engine," Martin said. "I'm not sure exactly what it was, but probably in the top end of the motor. It started giving trouble before it broke for about 10 laps and I knew that there was no way we were gonna make it all the way. We don't usually break parts and we're just having a rash of them. It's a shame, it's too bad."

Dale Earnhardt was also a victim of bad luck. Earnhardt led just six laps, but looked to be a contender for a win. His chance went away when a cut tyre resulted in suspension damage, relegating him to a 25th place finish.

Rookie of the year contender Dale Earnhardt Jr, who was forced to start a back-up car at the rear of the field after qualifying 15th on Friday, but crashing his race car in the 'happy hour' warm-up, moved through the field and finished 13th. Matt Kenseth had the best rookie finish, fifth.

Despite Dale Jarrett leading the most laps of the afternoon, there was no one dominant driver. The lead was swapped 25 times among Jarrett, Tony Stewart (polewinner), Mayfield, Gordon, Bill Elliott, Bobby Labonte, Earnhardt, Jeff Burton, Johnny Benson and Kevin Lepage.

Unofficially, Bobby Labonte holds the lead in the championship points standings with 2925 to Jarrett's 2772. Earnhardt is third with 2716, followed by Jeff Burton (2624) and Wallace (2557).

The NASCAR Winston Cup Series now travels to Indianapolis Motor Speedway in two weeks for the showpiece Brickyard 400.

1 Rusty Wallace, Ford, 200
2 Jeff Burton, Ford, 200
3 Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 200
4 Dale Jarrett, Ford, 200
5 Matt Kenseth, Ford, 200
6 Bobby Labonte, Pontiac, 200
7 Mike Skinner, Chevrolet, 200
8 Rick Mast, Pontiac, 200
9 Jimmy Spencer, Ford, 200
10 Jeremy Mayfield, Ford, 200
11 Terry Labonte, Chevrolet, 200
12 Johnny Benson, Pontiac, 200
13 Dale Earnhardt Jr, Chevrolet, 200
14 Robert Pressley, Ford, 200
15 Steve Park, Chevrolet, 200
16 Ted Musgrave, Chevrolet, 200
17 Michael Waltrip, Chevrolet, 200
18 Dave Blaney, Pontiac, 200
19 Ken Schrader, Pontiac, 200
20 Chad Little, Ford, 200
21 Kenny Wallace, Chevrolet, 200
22 Darrell Waltrip, Ford, 200
23 Kevin Lepage, Ford, 200
24 Mike Bliss, Pontiac, 200
25 Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 199
26 Tony Stewart, Pontiac, 199
27 Jerry Nadeau, Chevrolet, 199
28 Ward Burton, Pontiac, 198
29 Elliott Sadler, Ford, 184
30 Brett Bodine, Ford, 183, transmission
31 Wally Dallenbach Jr., Ford, 176, transmission
32 Bill Elliott, Ford, 163, engine failure
33 Ed Berrier, Ford, 160, rear end
34 Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet, 159, engine failure
35 Stacy Compton, Ford, 148, engine failure
36 Scott Pruett, Ford, 141, engine failure
37 Dave Marcis, Chevrolet, 128, engine failure
38 Ricky Rudd, Ford, 111, accident
39 Bobby Hamilton, Chevrolet, 106, engine failure
40 Kyle Petty, Pontiac, 96, engine failure
41 John Andretti, Pontiac, 41, engine failure
42 Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet, 31, engine failure
43 Mark Martin, Ford, 25, engine failure

Time of Race: 3h49m36s
Margin of Victory: 0.126s
Average Speed: 130.662mph
Lead Changes: 25 among 10 drivers.
Caution laps: 7 for 32 laps.

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