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Labonte wins on late pass in IROC

By KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 22, 2001


TALLADEGA, Ala. -- A restart two laps from the finish of the International Race of Champions event on Saturday set up Bobby Labonte's run to a second straight IROC victory at Talladega Superspeedway.

CART driver Kenny Brack finished second and Indy Racing driver Buddy Lazier was third.

The event was IROC's first since Dale Earnhardt's death Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway.

"Maybe the way I followed him all the time, maybe he showed me something that I needed to do," Labonte said of Earnhardt, a two-time IROC champion.

Jeff Green, who led a race-best 20 laps, was in front when a wreck involving Dale Jarrett on Lap 36 brought out the caution. Labonte was third on the restart and, with Brack behind him, passed Green in Turn 4.

"I think I was in the right place at the right time," Labonte said.

The defending Winston Cup champion leads Brack 34-29 in the IROC standings. The next event is June 9 at Michigan International Speedway.

SUGGESTIONS: If Jeff Gordon had his way, the three-time Winston Cup champion would do away with the rules NASCAR uses at Talladega.

NASCAR made a series of aerodynamic changes before the Winston 500 in October to slow cars and improve racing at Daytona and Talladega.

"The rules they had here were fine," said Gordon, who starts 13th and is the defending race winner. "We ran three wide, great racing, lead changes and everyone could pass. These rules just made it absolutely crazy. That is why I want to see them do something."

A closed NASCAR test session is scheduled Monday at the track. Hendrick Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing will participate.

THREE PEAT: Winston Cup points leader Jarrett has finished in the top three seven times in the past 11 races at Talladega.

A win today would mark his third straight this season, a career first for the 1999 series champion.

ODDS AND ENDS: Aaron's announced it will sponsor Shawna Robinson in four Winston Cup races this season, beginning with the California 500 on April29 at California Speedway. ... The past four races at Talladega have been won by a driver who started 17th or worse. ... Kurt Busch had the fastest car during final practice at 192.540 mph. The slowest was Gordon (187.805 mph). ... Stacy Compton, who starts on the pole in the No. 92 Dodge, has never finished higher than 10th in 40 career Winston Cup events.

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