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Jarrett’s drought ends

first_imgDale Jarrett’s voice was hoarse and choked with emotion. He had just won a frantic shootout to end a 98-race drought and steal the spotlight from NASCAR’s championship drivers. Jarrett, a hardened veteran, could hardly believe what had happened Sunday during a crash-filled race at Talladega Superspeedway that shuffled the points standings and moved Tony Stewart back on top of the Nextel Cup leaderboard. Matt Kenseth finished third and Ryan Newman was fourth. Stewart holds a four-point advantage over Newman who originally thought he was the new points leader after a race that shuffled the Chase standings. Meanwhile, Jimmie Jimmie Johnson’s reputation and championship hopes were damaged after he was blamed for causing an early accident. Johnson, who started the day as the points leader, was involved in two accidents and dropped to fourth in the standings 98 points back. Talladega is the wild card of NASCAR’s 10-race championship hunt. Because drivers are forced to use horsepower-sapping restrictor plates, the cars all run in one tight pack and the slightest bobble is capable of wiping out half the field. So it’s the one track where the 10 Chase drivers started the race knowing their title hopes could be crippled before the day was over. When the dust settled, at least five Chase drivers suffered some sort of accident-related damage and Johnson’s track record at Talladega had taken another huge hit this time for a wreck he was involved in 20 laps into the race. Johnson ran into the back of race-leader Elliott Sadler’s car, igniting a frightening eight-car accident that sent Michael Waltrip flipping down the track. The drivers involved widely blamed Johnson for the accident. “I’m really upset at Jimmie,” Sadler snapped. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “When you get to this point of your career, you’re not exactly sure when that last victory is going to be there so you learn to cherish each one,” Jarrett said. “It is very emotional. When I was coming down that backstretch, it was very emotional.” Jarrett, an also-ran most of the race, used a three-wide pass to challenge Tony Stewart for the lead on the final lap of a three-lap overtime shootout, then passed Stewart on the backstretch in the UAW-Ford 500 for his first victory since 2003 at the now-defunct North Carolina Speedway. center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 “Everybody was talking about the top 10 cars in the Chase,” said crew chief Todd Parrott, “and the old faithful one here (Jarrett) kind of hanging around where he needed to hang around and to be around at the end and then to make the move that he did is pretty special. “Me and this guy have worked a lot of magic together and we’re not done.” Kyle Petty spun to bring out a caution before the leaders crossed the finish line, freezing the field. NASCAR then had to review tape to establish a final finishing order. The final decision had Stewart second and in the points lead after the third of 10 Chase for the championship races. “The big picture is what we were worried about today,” Stewart said. “Even if we finished 10th and gained points, that was the big thing. I wish we could have won it, but if we couldn’t, I was glad to see DJ do it.” last_img read more

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