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Five to watch

Five drivers to watch in today's Winston 500 (alphabetical order):

Compiled by KEVIN KELLY

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 15, 2000


Jeff Burton

STARTING: 37th

CAR: No. 99 Ford

POINTS POSITION: 2nd

BEST FINISH AT TALLADEGA: 7th (1996 DieHard 500)

IN APRIL: 27th

WHY TO WATCH: Traditionally a bad qualifier who makes up ground fast. He must do that today in order to cut into Labonte's 252 point lead. Has six top-six finishes in past seven races.

Dale Earnhardt

STARTING: 20th

CAR: No. 3 Chevrolet

POINTS POSITION: 3rd

BEST FINISH AT TALLADEGA: 1st, nine times (1983 and 1984 Talladega 500, 1990 Winston 500 and DieHard 500, 1991 Diehard 500, 1993 DieHard 500, 1994 Winston Select 500, 1999 DieHard 500 and Winston 500)

IN APRIL: 1st

WHY TO WATCH: Don't be fooled by starting position. Nine-time winner is the undisputed king of NASCAR's largest race track. Swept both races at Talladega in 1999.

Terry Labonte

STARTING: 17th

CAR: No. 5 Chevrolet

POINTS POSITION: 19th

BEST FINISH AT TALLADEGA: 1st, twice (1989 DieHard 500, 1997 DieHard 500)

IN APRIL: 7th

WHY TO WATCH: A two-time winner at Talladega, he has two top-five and five top-10 finishes this season. In past nine races at Talladega, he has a top-seven finish six times.

Bobby Labonte

STARTING: 6th

CAR: No. 18 Pontiac

POINTS POSITION: 1st

BEST FINISH AT TALLADEGA: 1st (1998 DieHard 500)

IN APRIL: 21st

WHY TO WATCH: Winston Cup points leader can do no wrong (14 top-10s, three wins in last 18 races). Another good finish would all but assure him a first championship.

Dave Marcis

STARTING: 9th

CAR: No. 71 Chevrolet

POINTS POSITION: 47th

BEST FINISH AT TALLADEGA: 1st (1976 Talladega 500)

IN APRIL: 38th

WHY TO WATCH: Looking for an underdog? Here he is. No matter where Marcis finishes, qualifying ninth is a big boost to this nine-member, low-budget team.

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