Originally created 05/05/02

Rain suspends Pontiac 400



RICHMOND, Va. - Even when Ward Burton was in Victory Lane celebrating his win in the season-opening Daytona 500, he knew the best days for his race team was still to come.

Everything Burton and Bill Davis Racing teammate Hut Stricklin have done in the last couple years has been to stockpile information for the future.

First was the switch from Pontiacs to Dodges. Then came the decision to build every car from scratch instead of buying them from a vendor.

"We felt like in-house we could have better quality control, and we can develop more in-house than have someone develop for us," Burton said. "Why it's taken this long, there were times with our organization that we didn't have the people with the know-how to make those kinds of steps."

One of Burton's new in-house cars won the pole position for Saturday night's Pontiac Excitement 400 at the Richmond International Raceway. Rain forced a two-hour delay to the start of the main event, then it put the brakes on the race on the 66th lap. NASCAR decided to postpone the final 435 laps until noon today (FX) when it was clear the race couldn't be completed before midnight.

Local ordinances prohibit loud events like stock car racing on Saturdays after midnight or before noon on Sundays.

Before the interruption, Burton led the first 62 laps. He fell back to seventh when the rain started by making a pit stop for new tires and gas.

When the race gets the green flag this afternoon, Dale Jarrett will be in the lead. However, he hasn't made his pit stop yet.

Michael Waltrip is second, followed by Bobby Hamilton in third, Frank Kimmel in fourth, Rusty Wallace in fifth, Jeff Green in sixth, Burton in seventh, Matt Kenseth in eighth, Jimmy Spencer in ninth and Sterling Marlin in 10th.

Once the first round of pit stops are completed when the race resumes, Burton should be back or near the front again.

Reach Don Coble at doncoble@bellsouth.net.