Originally created 09/09/01

Rudd wins Monte Carlo



RICHMOND, Va. -- Veteran Ricky Rudd showed Kevin Harvick that experience counts Saturday night, passing the aggressive rookie with six laps to go and winning the Monte Carlo 400 Winston Cup race.

Rudd, who became the second driver in a span of six laps to be bumped off the lead by Harvick on the 383rd of 400 laps, passed Harvick back on the inside of the fourth turn to win for the second time this season.

It was the Virginia native's second victory at Richmond International Raceway, but first since 1984, and allowed him to climb within 222 points of leader Jeff Gordon, who crashed early and limped home in 36th place.

Harvick hung on for second place, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace, who had dominated for most of the race.

In the end, though, it was Rudd teaching Harvick a short track lesson to the delight of a crowd of 100,000 who hold Rudd as a hometown hero.

"He sort of got me a little ruffled under the collar there," Rudd said of Harvick. "I had to be careful not to drive the wheels off it."

Wallace had the best car for most of the night, leading 276 laps, and had repeatedly demonstrated an ability to pull away after restarts.

He got a chance to do it again with 27 laps remaining, but with Rudd and Harvick right on his bumper and a tire adjustment leaving him loose, it was only a matter of time before Harvick and Rudd left him behind.

In that fight, Harvick threw a punch, but Rudd got the knockout.

"We did everything we could do," said Harvick, who took over for the late Dale Earnhardt. "He had the better car."

Of the contact with Rudd, Harvick said, "I just kind of misjudged up off of two and clipped him a little bit. ... He had the better car."

After 35 laps, Gordon's troubles made it a possible points bonanza for Rudd, who started 342 behind, and Sterling Marlin, who was 478 back.

Gordon was racing Marlin for third place when Marlin made a move underneath him heading into the third turn. When Gordon moved lower on the track, Marlin held his spot, clipped Gordon's car and it went skidding hard into the wall, sustaining significant damage to the rear end.

Gordon brought the car down pit road, a shower of sparks coming out of the back, and drove it behind the wall for repairs as the crowd roared.

"Sterling got on the inside of me and I let him have it," Gordon said. "I ran on the outside of him for about a lap and went into 3 and I don't know what happened. You'll have to ask Sterling when he comes in."

Marlin suggested both drivers might have been at fault.

"We got in the corner and I might have come up and he came down a little bit," he said. "Jeff has always raced me clean and I hate it that we got together. I was turning in and he came across my right front."

When Gordon finally came back out, he was 110 laps behind the leaders.

Marlin became the next contender to falter, going from leading the race to behind the wall when his car got stuck in reverse after he missed his pit as most of the field came in under caution just 94 laps in.

When he finally returned, he was 49 laps off the pace.