CONCORD, N.C. (AP) -- His ribs ached but his lead in the points race was on the line. So Dale Jarrett did the only thing he could -- he forgot about the pain and finished the race.
Jarrett, who entered the Coca-Cola 600 with a 14-point advantage over Jeff Gordon, overcame starting from the rear of the field in a backup car and a cracked rib on his right side for an eighth-place finish on Sunday night.
Jarrett cracked a rib in practice on Saturday. So when he settled into his seat for the 600-mile race, his right side ached horribly.
"I just kind of put the pain out of my mind and said 'OK, now's the time that we have to go fast,"' Jarrett said. "You just have to withstand the pain and I knew we didn't have that far to go. The faster I went, the sooner I was going to get there and the pain would cease."
By rallying the way he did, he opened a 75-point lead over Gordon in the points race.
"I guess we made something of the night," Jarrett said. "To gain points is just a bonus."
Meanwhile, Tony Stewart answered his critics by successfully competing in the NASCAR race after the Indianapolis 500.
Stewart, called selfish and accused of putting 42 other Winston Cup drivers in danger for trying to finish both races on the same day, successfully completed the double on Sunday.
He finished sixth in the IRL race, then flew to Concord for a third-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600. That was an improvement from the first time he tried the double in 1999, when he finished ninth at Indy and fourth in the NASCAR race.
Afterward, he bristled at his critics -- most of whom condemned him through letters to the editors of racing magazines -- and questioned their qualifications.
"I read about how selfish people thought I was and I was putting the other drivers at risk and it hurt," he said. "They said I was all over the place the last time I tried this and I couldn't handle it. Well, that is a bunch of idiots talking about a topic that they really don't know anything about."
For a minute, though, it looked like the critics were right when he almost cut his night short in the NASCAR race.
Stewart spun out on the second lap of the Coca-Cola 600 and damaged the right front of his Pontiac. But his Joe Gibbs Racing crew patched up the car and sent him back out.
And had NASCAR's longest race been just a bit longer, he might have finished in the top two.
Although he never challenged winner Jeff Burton, he was charging hard over the final 10 laps. He moved up two spots over the final stretch and was gaining ground quickly on runner-up Kevin Harvick when the checkered flag fell.
"He had the fastest car out there," Harvick said. "There's no doubt he was faster than we were, but he just ran out of laps and finished third."
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