DAYTONA -- In winning the Daytona 500, Dale
Jarrett led 89 laps, more than any other driver, and averaged 155.669 mph for 3 hours 12 minutes 43 seconds. In the middle of the race, Jarrett had a 189.127 mph lap.
Jarrett first won the Daytona 500 in 1993, driving a Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs. In 1995, he switched to Yates Racing and drove the No. 28 Ford as a replacement for the injured Ernie Irvan. The following year, with Irvan returning, he moved to the 88 car and won his second 500. It was his first race with crew chief Todd Parrott, who also masterminded Sunday's win.
Parrott had to work overtime Saturday night to repair Jarrett's car after he became involved with Jeff Gordon and Bill Elliott when Mike Bliss spun in front of them during the final moments of late afternoon practice.
The Yates crew worked past 10 p.m. and arrived in the garage at 4:45 a.m. Sunday to make repairs.
''Pretty much every corner on the car was damaged,'' Parrott said. ''It bent all the rocker panels, the back bumper and the nose. We had to change the complete left front fender, most of the right front fender, new exhaust pipes, and half the rear bumper. To do the fabrication, we had to fly three guys in from (team headquarters) Charlotte.''
Jarrett said he was apprehensive about how the car might react in the race's early laps.
''There was no way of knowing it was gonna be right until we took off and saw what happened with the car,'' he said, ''but I knew when Todd Parrott put it out there I had confidence in it.
''With my teammate (Rudd) on the outside I wasn't sure I wanted to race with him right at the start. I wanted to make sure the car was gonna turn, so I held back. Once we got into it I knew the car was just as good as it had been, so I got out in front and led.''
Ricky Rudd led only one lap before he started slipping to the rear.
''It took about six laps before it started pushing and it was really bad when I was behind,'' said Rudd. ''I had to completely get out of the throttle to get the front end to stick. That cost us track position and as you could see, track position was everything.''
Jeff Gordon, last year's Daytona 500 winner, was the first one out this year as his Chevrolet had an oil line break on lap 34. He later returned to the track but was five laps down.
''I couldn't run with those Fords,'' Gordon said, ''but I think we would have been able to get up to fifth or sixth. I think that's about it.''
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