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NASCAR BGN Series at the New California Speedway: Todd Bodine Wins

20 October 1997

FONTANA, CA -- In a replay of the Winston Cup event, the Busch Grand
National division's first visit to the new Penske Speedway came down
to the team that could manage fuel the best. It was Todd Bodine
driving the Stanley Tools Pontiac that stretched his fuel enough to
win the Kenwood Home and Car Audio Stereo 300.

The drivers that followed Bodine across the line, making up the
top-five, were Rookie-of-the-Year Steve Park, Matt Kenseth, Michael
Waltrip and Robert Pressley.

The race started off with Steve Park on the pole. Park was strong, but
Winston Cup regular Bobby Labonte never let Park get too far away.

The first caution of the day flew on lap 11 when an ill-advised 3 wide
run went wrong in turn three. Mike McLaughlin was running high and
Mark Green down was down low. Jeff Krogh, thinking that there was a
hole between the two, tried to split the pair. McLaughlin's car broke
lose. McLaughlin jazzed the gas trying to get through the corner and
set the tires a blazing. McLaughlin's car then snapped around the
other way and he did a 180 across the track but never hit
anything. Mark Green, in the Timber Wolf Chevrolet, was not so
fortunate as he made heavy contact and his day came to a very early

Park took them back to green on lap 16 but didn't get far before the
caution came out again on lap 18 when Roy Jones hit the turn-two wall
in a single car incident.

After a lengthily clean-up Park again took the field to green - on lap
24.  Park would soon succumb to the power that Bobby Labonte was
packing in the #44 Shell Pontiac. Labonte shot by Park for the lead on
lap 38. Once there Labonte took off and started to build a sizable
lead over Park.

Labonte held on until lap 54 when the Shell Pontiac dropped to pit
road for a drink of Unocal and four tires. This was the beginning of
green flag stops for the field.

Caution flew for the final time on lap 74 when Scott Lagasse popped
the turn-two wall. It was during this caution that a few of those that
had just stopped dove for pit road to top-off their tanks with fuel.

The green flew again on lap 80 with Bobby Labonte in the lead. Labonte
just took off and looked like he was driving a different class of car
than the others. After approximately 30 laps Bobby Labonte was all
alone on the track.

All Labonte would have to do to secure the win is either pray for a
caution or hope that he could stretch a tank of fuel for close to 75
laps. Neither would happen and he ran out of fuel just past the
entrance of pit road on lap 140. His lead was big but not big enough
that costing an entire lap could handle. Since Labonte is not running
for points he just rolled it to the garage and called it quits on the
day. "Man am I embarrassed," a blushing Bobby Labonte said. "We
figured it out that we'd run out with a half a lap to go but we ran
out with 10 and a half to go. Something must have gone wrong for that
to happen."

When Bobby rolled off the track Todd Bodine picked up the lead.

Then, one after another, the strong-runners had to stop for a splash
of gas. Not Bodine - he was drafting anything that moved to get to his

Cars were dropping off the pace and rolling to pit road dead - only to
come back to life with a splash of gas and a spritz of starting
fluid. Bodine just kept praying.

Then as he came out of four heading for the checkers the fuel pressure
gauge flickered, his car stuttered but he made it to the checkers a
full 15.903 seconds ahead of Park.

Bodine, who was winless to date in '97 said, " We got to a certain
point and we were holding our own. We didn't push the issue - I wanted
to ride and see what we got. Everything worked out for us. We had to
go for gas milage because we weren't going to beat them on the race

With only two races remaining on the series schedule, Todd Bodine was
able to pull to within 200 points of series points leader Randy
LaJoie. LaJoie heads down the stretch with 4,108 points to Bodine's
3908. Steve Park, Mike McLaughlin and Elliott Saddler round out the

The race took 2 hours, 4 minutes, 4 seconds to complete and held an
average speed of 145.083 miles per hour - this establishes the track
record. There were 11 lead changes among 8 drivers. The caution flew 3
times for a total 18 laps.

The next event will be the ACDElco 200 to be run The Rock - North
Carolina Motor Speedway.

Mike Snow -- The Auto Channel