Gurney's Inn
July 05, 2006

Racing Reporter

For most of the 160 laps in Saturday night's Pepsi 400, it was apparent that Tony Stewart would be the driver to beat. His No. 20 Chevrolet had led for 83 laps and was the car everyone was chasing until things got a little heated near the finish.

On Lap 147, Jimmie Johnson got loose as Kurt Busch went underneath him for fourth place. Johnson's Chevrolet slipped and then slid up the track into Bobby Labonte's No. 43 Dodge, bringing out the yellow flag.

The leaders pitted, but polesitter, Boris Said did not. On the restart, Said had the lead with nine laps to go.

Stewart, who had pitted for four tires restarted 10th. As the field completed Lap 154 Stewart got a run on the low side and made it all the way up to the second spot.

Just as he began to make a move on Said, Greg Biffle's No. 16 Ford got turned around in traffic and hit the No. 6 driven by his teammate, Mark Martin. Jeff Gordon was also caught up in the wreck.

After a brief caution, the green came out with just three laps to go. In less than one lap, Stewart grabbed the lead and Kyle Busch followed him into second, while older brother, Kurt Busch, moved into third.

The Busch Brothers were never able to put together a good run, because the final caution flew right after the white flag was given, which froze the field.

Debris in Turn 3 brought out the yellow after the white flag had flown. The race was over.

"I think we had an opportunity, but we'll never know," Kyle Busch said.

"I would have done anything Kyle needed me to do to help send him to victory lane," said Kurt Busch, who finished third behind Kyle. "It would have taken two of us to pass Tony tonight, that's for sure."

Said brought his Ford home fourth and was very jubilant.

"I feel like Rocky Balboa in the 15th round, like I won," he said. "It's the best equipment I've ever been in and the highlight of my racing career."

Other drivers, however, didn't come away quite as happy.

Jeff Gordon and teammate, Jimmie Johnson, didn't fare well.

The wreck on lap 147 cost Gordon the brakes on his No. 24 Chevrolet and he was forced to pit, winding up 40th.

NASCAR CEO Brian France addressed the media on what fans could expect in the near future, as well as changes NASCAR might be looking at down the road.

One of his biggest statements involved making adjustments to the "Chase For the Championship," which begins after race 26, and determines the champion.

That's what the Chase has always been about. It's about showcasing their skills.

"So we'll be looking at everything to see if we can make it a little bit better.  There won't be dramatic changes because the basic format is working well." 

France also touched on the resistance NASCAR is having in its attempts to build a new racing facility in New York City.

"Well, they (the commissioners) didn't all come out against it," continued France. "But you're right. It was a rocky meeting that they had for various reasons. And they know that they are not just going to roll in with a master plan, a $600 million, 80,000 seat stadium in one of the five boroughs and just roll right into town, so that's not unexpected. They are doing what you need to do to address the issues that the city council members have put out, and we'll see how they do in accomplishing that."

France went on to say that NASCAR has not given up on plans for either the proposed tracks in New York or Washington State.

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