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Blow Out: Wallace Wins Race

Although Rusty Wallace felt bad for Jeremy Mayfield, he was happy to be the recipient of a little luck when his teammate lost the Pennsylvania 500 because of a blown tire on the last lap.

"He wasn't caring about that teammate stuff and neither was I," Wallace said after his unexpected victory Sunday.

Wallace passed Mayfield and then held off Jeff Burton by two car-lengths.

Mayfield, who won last month at Pocono International Raceway by nudging Dale Earnhardt aside on the final lap, blew his right front tire a little more than a mile from the end. That allowed Wallace and Burton to get by, and Mayfield wound up 10th.

"I didn't see anything, but you know how it is," Mayfield said. "Sometimes you just run over something.

"The last time I was here we had a spectacular finish on the last lap, too, so I guess the track owed me one."

The victory was the fourth on the 2 1/2-mile triangular track for Wallace, tying him with Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott and the late Tim Richmond for the most on the mountaintop.

"He raced me hard and he raced me clean," Wallace said of Burton.

Poised for what would have been his series-leading eighth pole of the season, Wallace lost that two days earlier when Tony Stewart set a track record with a qualifying lap at 172.391 mph. Wallace, whose only previous victory this year came four months ago in Bristol, Tenn., said he would rather win the race.

"Now, I won't have to hear people saying, `When are you going to win again, Rusty?'" Wallace said.

Burton said he and Wallace let Mayfield get away at first by racing each other hard, occasionally side by side. But Burton said he had a faster car and had little choice. He knew he couldn't win from the third spot.

"If I had been leading the race on the last lap then I would have won, not Rusty," he said.

Wallace knew he couldn't let Burton get in front of him, but realized they had to run nose to tail to draft closer to Mayfield.

"I was running too hard in the tunnel turn and finally had to tell myself to calm down," Wallace said.

Then Buton began his move. Several times he got alongside Wallace as the three Fords battled it out over the final laps.

"He really did a good job pinching me off," Burton said.

Wallace and the other leaders benefited from a bad decision by Dale Jarrett's crew to take four tires during a late-race pit stop under caution. The rest took two, and Jarrett lost track position and fell from the lead to far back in the pack.

"I'm disappointed, I thought we had the car to beat," Jarrett said. "But we took a chance there."

Ironically, Wallace has complained that he and his crew have made many bad decisions this season.

"You hate to give up track position," he said.

The win slowed the momentum of Stewart, who had won three of the last six races. Stewart, cut down a tire and finished 26th.

Wallace led four times for 49 of 200 laps.

Third was Jeff Gordon in a Chevrolet.

"We had a strong car, but we lost fourth gear there at the end," said Gordon, a three-time Pocono winner.

Gordon finished just ahead of Jarrett's Ford. Rookie points leader Matt Kenseth was fifth in a Ford, followed by the Pontiac of points leader Bobby Labonte, who heads Jarrett by 53 points.

Earnhardt blew a tire, finished 25th and fell to third in standings, 107 points behind Labonte.

Ted Musgrave finished 16th in his first ride for Team SABCO, whose driver, Kenny Irwin, was killed two weeks ago while practicing at New Hampshire International Speedway for the New England 300.

Wallace averaged 130.662 mph. The race was slowed seven times by 32 laps of caution. There were 25 lead changes among 10 drivers.

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