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Helton explains NASCAR's non-ruling
1999 News
Jim Utter - The Charlotte Observer

Bristol, Tenn. (Aug. 29, 1999)
As far as NASCAR is concerned, Saturday's night's victory by Dale Earnhardt will stand as is.

Earnhardt hit race leader Terry Labonte from behind on the final lap of Saturday's Goody's 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway to claim his second win of the 1999 season.

Several protests were filed over the incident, but Mike Helton, NASCAR's chief operating officer, made a statement late Saturday that the race results would stand.

``After seeing the end of the race and reviewing all the tapes NASCAR is going to let the finish order stand as it completed,'' he said. ``Actually, it would have been better had the race ended under better circumstances.

``Having to make a decision on whether or not you take a race win away from someone for something that happens on the race track, you have to be very certain about that. In this case, it's not inconclusive that it was a racing accident on the way back to the checkered flag.

``Therefore,'' Helton said, ``We're going to leave the standings the way they were at the end of the race.''

Helton also said the circumstances surrounding the last lap incident were far different then the one involving Jerry Nadeau and Dale Jarrett earlier in the race in which Nadeau was penalized two laps for hitting Jarrett from behind.

Helton said Labonte and Earnhardt ``were involved in racing for the win and racing for position.'' Nadeau, he said, was warned ahead of time Jarrett's car was not up to speed and that he go around him.

Ryan Pemberton, crew chief for Ernie Irvan's No. 36 Pontiac that Nadeau was driving Saturday, said he thought the penalty was unjust.

``I can understand NASCAR's situation, it happened rather quick. It's like a play at home plate,'' Pemberton said. ``Someone has to make the call. It might have been a bad call, but the call was made.

``I think everyone here knows Terry Labonte put one on them. I think what (Earnhardt) did was blatant. I think that was at least two laps. I think if what we did was two laps, that was at least two laps. But the race is over with.

``All kind of stuff happens here at Bristol and it happens awful fast.''