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Jarrett endures through injury


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 27, 2001

CONCORD, N.C. -- Dale Jarrett pulled out of the final Winston Cup practice after he felt a "pop" in his right side Saturday.

Jarrett was examined by a local physician and diagnosed with a cracked rib. He will treat the injury, believed to be caused by a wreck during qualifying Thursday night, with electronic stimulus and his team will add more padding to his car.

The Winston Cup points leader arrived at Lowe's Motor Speedway Friday and Saturday with a sore left knee but said the most recent pain seemed to come out of nowhere. The pain was so sharp Jarrett said it inhibited his breathing.

"I was going into Turn 3 and I just felt a pop," said Jarrett, set to start today's Coca-Cola 600 in 37th position. "I had no indication."

Jarrett went back on to the track wearing a flak jacket but felt too constrained. He pulled his car off and visited the Motor Racing Outreach fitness and rehabilitation center in the infield, where he received treatment.

"The only thing the flak jacket was basically going to do was keep from furthering the injury," Jarrett said. "I need something that is going to tie this thing together, so when I do turn the wheel I'm not gonna get that much pain. If it's just some pain and I can breathe, that's fine. What I had this morning wasn't something that I would feel comfortable with for 600 miles."

Despite that, Jarrett said a back-up driver is unnecessary.

"I feel like I'll start and my plan is to finish," Jarrett said.

WHAT DUEL?: The Carquest 300 was billed as the reignition of a rivalry which began in the Busch Series three years ago. Matt Kenseth vs. Dale Earnhardt Jr., once again.

It never happened.

Earnhardt Jr., filling in for the injured Joe Nemechek, had handling problems early then saw his car fall off a jack when he came into the pits for service. He finished 29th.

Kenseth moved from his 10th starting position to finish second.

HALF A POUND AWAY: Greg Biffle looked to be ready to run away with the Busch race, leading 95 of the first 100 laps and 154 overall, but one pit stop with 53 laps to go cost him dearly.

Biffle called for tires with a half-pound less pressure but they made his car too loose and he finished sixth.

"It's tough when you have a car that's loose in, loose off and tight in the middle," said Biffle, who had never driven at Lowe's. "You're just going so slow and you know you're going to wreck at any time."

WARMING UP: Mike McLaughlin took Tony Stewart's No. 20 Pontiac out for a few practice laps Saturday, but as far as he and Stewart are concerned, that will be the last time he's in the car this weekend.

McLaughlin is Stewart's back-up driver in case Stewart has trouble getting back to Concord from Indianapolis where he is scheduled to run the Indianapolis 500.

FAST FIVE: Pole-sitter Ryan Newman was the fastest car on the track during final practice. Newman, outside pole-sitter Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin were the only cars to break 176 mph during the hour-long session. Dodge drivers Sterling Marlin and Casey Atwood were fourth and fifth fastest.

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