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The Callahan Report: Pennsylvania Is Good To Jarrett Again

21 July 1997

POCONO, PA: Dale Jarrett complained of having a tight race car for much of the late part of the Pennsylvania 500 today. Forty-one other drivers wished they had a car that handled as badly as Jarrett's. By NASCAR standards, the race was a blowout. Jarrett won by three seconds over Winston Cup points leader, Jeff Gordon.

"This was a great place for me in '95," Jarrett said. "When I really needed something good to happen, I won here. This motor was incredible. It's almost unfair that the thing was that good."

Jarrett, driving the Robert Yates prepared Ford Quality Car number 88, was able to pull away from the field at will towards the end of the race. There were plenty of Fords at the top of the heap, but Jarrett's was the most powerful in today's race at Pocono International Speedway. Ford took four of the top five spots, with Gordon being the exception in his Chevy Monte Carlo.

Jeff Burton was the leader with 24 laps remaining. Jarrett and Gordon had fresh tires and were able to cruise by the struggling Burton. Last week's winner at Loudon, NH, Burton was able to make up some ground on Gordon but it was too little too late. Burton could not regain the spot before the drop of the checkered flag.

Jack Roush's Fords nearly dominated the race. Directly behind Burton were his teammates. Ted Musgrave came close to a win again today as he finished in fourth. The old man of the Roush team, Mark Martin was right behind them in fifth.

Jarrett's teammate, Ernie Irvan, had a good race going until a crash sent him to a 40th place finish. Irvan is trying look especially good. The comeback driver is searching for a ride for next season. Irvan was critically injured in a crash at Michigan International Speedway two years ago while driving for the Yates team. He has been an impressive winner since returning to racing. His search for a ride shouldn't last too long.

Mike Skinner was sixth followed by Jimmy Spencer, Kyle Petty, Jeremy Mayfield, and Bill Elliott. Dale Earnhardt was lucky to salvage a twelfth place finish. He was caught up in a brotherly battle between Terry and Bobby Labonte. Terry got the worst of the incident as he was sent spinning. The older Labonte was the points leader coming into today's event. He finished the race in 35th spot and dropped to third in the series point race behind Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin. Labonte and Jarrett are tied for third in the points, with Jeff Burton holding onto fifth.

The NASCAR stars have next weekend off. They will resume competition on Saturday, August 2, at the Brickyard.

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel