Gordon ends winless skid in Sharpie 500

Sunday, August 25, 2002

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Jeff Gordon bumped his way past Rusty Wallace with three laps to go to win the Sharpie 500 on Saturday night and snap his 31-race victory drought.

Gordon, the four-time and defending Winston Cup champion, passed Wallace by driving his Chevrolet up onto Wallace's bumper and sliding past him in Turn 4 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

After crossing the finish line, Gordon coasted around the track as his crew celebrated over the radio.

"You were like a man on the mission tonight baby, beautiful," crew chief Robbie Loomis said. "The winless streak is over, what are they going to write about now?"

After a series of burnouts, he drove to victory lane and jumped into the arms of car owner Rick Hendrick.

"I just wanted to take advantage of an opportunity, these guys deserved a win, we don't deserve to be written about this losing streak, so I'm glad it's over," Gordon said. "It feels like my first win!"

Wallace, riding a 50-race winless streak, finished second and wasn't pleased with Gordon's bump-and-run, claiming Gordon wouldn't have got past him without a tap.

"It's been a long time since I won, but it's been a long time since Jeff won, too and he wanted it bad," Wallace said. "I guess my day's coming. I got nailed in the rear end and got turned sideways, and didn't expect it. I tried hard to nail him back, but never could get to him."

Gordon said he had to do it to win his 59th career victory, first since Sept. 30, 2001, and fifth at Bristol, but first in the night race.

"He got bottled up in some traffic and I knew if I could get to him, I could make a pass," Gordon said. "I got into him a little bit, he got loose and I hope he'll understand tomorrow."

IRL: The IRL's top rookie, Tomas Scheckter, will not race Sunday in the Gateway 250 after missing a scheduled technical briefing Friday and his future on the circuit is in limbo.

Eddie Cheever Jr., the owner of the Red Bull Cheever Racing team, blistered the 21-year-old driver after qualifying on Saturday. Scheckter, the son of former Formula One champion Jody Scheckter, told the Indianapolis Star that his management staff made the decision last week "on safety grounds."

"Technically, he's in breach of contract," Cheever said. "Race car driving is not like a lawyer going to the office from 9-to-5. If he's afraid because he has had so many accidents and doesn't want to drive the race car, that's a decision that he makes."

Scheckter is 11th in the points, and won the Michigan Indy 200 on July 28. He has won three poles.

But he's also wrecked six cars in 12 races and also wrecked one car in practice.

Hospital releases Priestly

INDIANAPOLIS -- Actor Jason Priestley was released Saturday from an Indianapolis hospital where he spent 12 days recovering from injuries sustained in a crash at Kentucky Speedway.

Priestley was released from Methodist Hospital late Saturday morning, hospital spokeswoman Penny Johnson said. She said she did not know where Priestley had been taken after his discharge.

Mears admits to rehab

Four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rick Mears was never scared in a race car. Alcohol is a different story.

Mears, 50, revealed that he checked himself into a treatment program twice -- in mid-April and in late May.

"I got to a point where I felt it could become a problem, and I didn't want that to happen. I wanted to try to get sorted out and be ahead of the deal instead of behind it. That's what I did."

-- From wire reports

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