Kenny Wallace continued his Busch Grand National domination at Richmond International Raceway by pulling away over the final 51 laps Saturday to win the Hardee’s Frisco 250.
Driving a Ford, Wallace had built his lead to about 12 car-lengths over Terry Labonte when he took the checkered flag for his second consecutive Grand National victory at Richmond. It also marked the ninth time in 10 Grand National races on the three-quarter-mile trioval that Wallace has finished in the top 10.
“I don’t know what it is about this place,” said Wallace, who won $25,300 for Grand National career victory No. 7. “Some people run great at Darlington, Atlanta, places like that. For me, things just seem to go great at Richmond.”
The race marked an unsuccessful end to Chad Little’s bid to open the season with an unprecedented three consecutive victories.
Little started on the pole and looked strong early until he spun out during a restart on lap 65. By the time he gathered it and got going again, he was 21st, the last car on the lead lap.
But Little steadily worked his way back through the field, and by lap 155, he was once again in the top five. However, his Ford slowed dramatically as he exited the backstretch on lap 168. The engine - and Little’s streak - were finished.
“Something broke in the motor, but you can’t win ‘em all, right?” he said. “That’s OK, though. You enjoy moments like we’ve had because they can go by you pretty quick.”
Chevrolet driver Johnny Benson was second behind Wallace when the race went back to green following a caution for Kirk Shelmerdine’s spin on lap 199. But instead of closing in on Wallace, Benson had to contend with the third-place Chevy of Labonte.
Their battle for position allowed Wallace to begin drawing away in his Ford. Labonte overtook Benson with 15 laps left but was unable to challenge Wallace the rest of the way.
“I thought I had a shot at him there, but I couldn’t run him down,” Labonte said.
Benson wound up third, and the three drivers who were battling for spots four through six - Phil Parsons, Randy Porter and Jerry Foyt - crashed coming out of the fourth turn on the final lap. Their tangle allowed Mike McLaughlin to finish fourth, followed by Jason Keller and Stevie Reeves.
The Grand National teams got in only about 20 minutes of practice before snow halted the proceedings. Qualifying was snowed out, and the starting grid was determined by points and various exemptions and provisionals. M Pontiac 400
Jeff Gordon added to his rapidly growing Winston Cup resume Saturday, winning the pole for the Pontiac Excitement 400 in recordsetting fashion.
Gordon earned the top starting spot for Sunday’s event at Richmond International Raceway by shattering Ted Musgrave’s six-month-old track qualifying record of 124.052 mph.