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The Callahan Report: The Pressure Is On . . . Gordon Crashes During Warm Up

16 November 1997

[ Jeff Gordon ]
Jeff Gordon

ATLANTA, GA: (Saturday, Nov 15) -- The drama of the 1997 Winston Cup Championship has started. While Jeff Gordon took to the pit lane this morning to begin his warmup for qualifying, he lost control while warming up his tires. Gordon looped the car and hit the stopped car of Bobby Hamilton. Both drivers were forced to switch to their backup cars for qualifying.

Gordon was only able to get in eight practice laps before qualifying began. The early morning spin and bump resulted in his worse starting position of the year. Gordon will start 37th in the field. His previous lowest starting spot was 29th earlier this season. Hamilton was forced to take a provisional start (40th).

Rainy weather yesterday caused the postponement of the first round of qualifying for the NAPA 500 in Atlanta. All 38 positions were filled today in a quick qualifying round.

Gordon holds a 77 point lead on Dale Jarrett in the championship hunt. Mark Martin is ten points behind Jarrett. Those three drivers are the only drivers with a shot at winning the coveted Winston Cup.

Gordon lost valuable track position because of the morning incident. If there is trouble ahead of him, he could be doomed in his bid for his second Winston Cup title. His two rivals, Jarrett and Martin will be ahead of any early trouble in the race. Dale Jarrett will start third in the race. Mark Martin qualified ninth.

Geoff Bodine will start from the pole with Ward Burton's Pontiac along side him on the from row. Bodine had a blazing lap of 197 mph on the newly reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway. His qualifying run was twelve mph faster than the previous track record.

The NAPA 500 will air on ESPN starting at 12:30 p.m. (ET) tomorrow (November 16).

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel

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