20th, Labonte claims title_11/12
finishing fourth on Sunday in the Pennzoil 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Bobby
Labonte captured the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup championship. And Dale Earnhardt was quick to
offer "congratulations to Bobby. He ran great all year."
"Jimmy Makar (Labonte's crew chief) and the guys deserve it," added
Earnhardt. "They put in some long hours and built the race team and won a lot of
races. Now they've won the championship.
"Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing has got to be excited. They won the championship
and the 20 car (Tony Stewart) won the race today -- that's a pretty good day for the Gibbs
organization. It was a pretty good year for everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing.
"We just couldn't ever come up with enough to do anything with 'em. We fell
short at several race tracks. This was just a tough day for us."
Earnhardt struggled throughout the entire race and ended up 20th, three laps back
of Stewart. The highest Earnhardt ran all day was 17th.
"We shoved the nose in the center all day long," noted Earnhardt.
"We never could get the car to turn down in the center. We didn't race worth a darn.
"I used everything I could to try to keep him (Stewart) behind me (as Stewart
tried to lap Earnhardt on laps 118-120). I just used everything I had. But we just didn't
have the car today.
"Now I've got to race this guy over here now (Jeff Burton) for second. We won
Atlanta in the spring. Hopefully, we can do it again. Another win would sure be a good day
to end the year. Second isn't what I wanted, but if we can get it it would be better than
what we have been doing the last several years."
Going into the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Nov. 19, Earnhardt trails
Burton by 19 points in the race for the No. 2 position.
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
Ricky Rudd was quite upset with Dale Earnhardt after he and Earnhardt got together
on a restart with 49 laps to go Sunday in the Pennzoil 400 at the Homestead-Miami
Speedway. Rudd was leading at the time.
"I don't know what in the world Earnhardt was doing," said Rudd, who
ended up sixth. "He was 100 laps down or something, I don't know what he was doing.
If I'm a lap down, I give the guys the courtesy to go race and he was a factor and changed
the outcome of my race anyway. When we restarted, Earnhardt drove us out to the third lane
and closed the fenders in and took all the downforce away. The car just plowed after that
and our race was over."
When asked about the incident, Earnhardt said, "On the restart I went down
there (into turn one) and had hot tires on and they just didn't turn good. They had stuff
on 'em. NASCAR blew all that rubber and stuff down the track. It wouldn't turn. I got up
into him (Rudd). I tried to keep it off of him all I could. We were just lucky we both
BY THE NUMBERS: 19 -- The number of points by which Dale Earnhardt trails Jeff
Burton in the race for second place in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings going into
the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Nov. 19.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Congratulations to Bobby (Labonte). He ran great all year
long. Jimmy Makar (Labonte's crew chief) and the guys deserve it. They put in some long
hours and built the race team and won a lot of races. Now they've won the (Winston Cup)
championship." -- Dale Earnhardt
NUTS AND BOLTS Crew chief Kevin Hamlin feels the "only way to take the sting
out of how poorly we ran today (Sunday in the Pennzoil 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway) is
win Atlanta. We won the spring race. Now we need to get us another one down there. We were
just horrible today." Dale Earnhardt finished 20th, three laps back of winner Tony
Stewart. "We struggled from the time we unloaded," added Hamlin. "We
probably should have brought another car."
Earnhardt 36th fastest in
Earnhardt came in 36th fastest during
first-round qualifying at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway. Steve Park won the pole,
while Dale Jr. qualified 12th. Darrell Waltrip made it into the field on day one,
qualifying 24th in his second-to-last Winston Cup race before his retirement.
Top 5 equals
title on Sunday - Even if Earnhardt wins Sunday and the Nov. 19 finale at Atlanta --
and takes five-point bonuses for leading a lap and leading the most laps -- Labonte can
clinch by finishing 28th or better in both events.