Jeff Burton is the
Safest Bet on the Strip

 by Frank Ryan
March 2, 2001

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Jeff Burton won at Las Vegas last year.  It was Ford's 500th career Winston Cup victory.

Jeff Burton just might be the safest bet on the strip this weekend as the NASCAR Winston Cup tour heads west to Las Vegas for the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400. Jeff Burton has won the last two races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, winning in 1999 from the 19th starting position, and again in last year in a rain-shortened event. Along with safely establishing himself as a favorite to win this weekend at the "Diamond in the Desert", the rest of the Roush Racing stable could also be regarded as favorites.

Mark Martin won the inaugural event in 1998, making Roush Racing the only winners at the speedway. Jeff Burton finished in second place that year, and for all his good fortune, has never tested at Las Vegas, and with two wins at the flat track speedway, that trend isn't likely to change. 

"We've never tested at Vegas", said Burton, "I'm not saying we should or shouldn't, but I'm just saying that when we looked at Vegas -- we didn't test the first year and we ran second after a lot of people had tested. The whole universe tested there last year as well and we were able to win the race, so we looked at it and said, 'OK, in the past we've gotten by without testing. Let's try to do that again and try to save our test for somewhere that we really feel like we're struggling.' That's what we chose to do. I don't know if that's the right thing to do or not. I can tell you that when I was watching television and saw all the people who were out there testing I was like, 'Oh, no. Maybe we messed up here.' But it's a strategy we went with based on experience and we felt it was the right thing to do."

Jeff Burton out in front at the Diamond in the Desert

This race is the first Winston No Bull 5 event for the 2001 season. The drivers eligible for this event are: Kenny Wallace, Joe Nemechek, Jeff Gordon, Terry Labonte and Mike Skinner. These drivers all finished in the top five in the last No Bull 5 event of 2000 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Skinner, who finished sixth in that event, joined the lineup after the tragic accident of Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt won the Winston 500 at Talladega.

Any of these drivers who win the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 this weekend will reap a one million dollar bonus for themselves as well as a lucky fan. Of the five drivers competing for the million dollar bonus, only Jeff Gordon and Mike Skinner have finished in the top 5 at Las Vegas, with Gordon grabbing a third place finish and Skinner finishing in fourth, both in 1999.

Only one of the three NASCAR Winston Cup Series races at Las Vegas has been won from a top-10 starting position, the inaugural race in 1998, when Mark Martin started from the seventh starting grid.


The UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400

Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Date: Sunday, March 4, 2001
Start time: 11:30 a.m., Pacific Standard Time

2001 Winston No Bull 5 -- Event No. 1 of 5
Qualified drivers:
* Kenny Wallace (No. 27 Hills Brothers Coffee Pontiac Grand Prix)
* Joe Nemechek (No. 33 Oakwood Homes Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
* Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Automotive Finishes Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
* Terry Labonte (No. 5 Kelloggs Chevrolet Monte Carlo)
* Mike Skinner (No. 31 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Chevrolet Monte Carlo)

Winston No Bull 5 Notes

* Mike Skinner joins the Winston No Bull 5 field for Las Vegas on the strength of  his sixth-place finish at the Winston 500 last October. He replaces Dale Earnhardt, who won the October race at Talladega Superspeedway. 

* There have been 15 Winston No Bull 5 events, and in that time, there have been nine winners. Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon have each won the million-dollar bonus three times. Dale Jarrett has won the million twice. The nine winners have come in the last 13 Winston No Bull 5 events, including the final Winston No Bull 5 event of 2000. 

* Jeff Gordon will make his eighth attempt at the Winston No Bull 5 million when he takes the green flag at Las Vegas. Gordon has won the bonus three times

* The 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond, Va. marked the eighth time Bobby Labonte competed in a Winston No Bull 5 event. However, the Texas native has yet to claim the million-dollar bonus. 

* Joe Nemechek is the 26th driver eligible for the Winston No Bull 5 program.

* Roush Racing has made 16 attempts at the Winston No Bull 5 program, more than any other team. Jeff Burton has won the bonus three times, making Roush Racing three for 16. Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick motorsports are tied for second with 11 attempts each. 

* Only one of the five eligible drivers recorded a top-10 finish in last year's race at Las Vegas. Nemechek came home in ninth place. The other four drivers had a rough day. Skinner finished 27th, Gordon finished 28th, Terry Labonte finished 31st and Kenny Wallace came home in 39th place. 

* The 1999 Winston 500 marked the only time three cars from the same team competed for the million-dollar bonus. Mark Martin, Kevin Lepage and Jeff Burton all competed out of the Roush Racing stable. 

* In the 2000 Daytona 500, Kenny Wallace completed the third set of Winston No Bull 5 brothers joining Rusty as eligible drivers. Both Ward and Jeff Burton have been eligible, as well as Terry and Bobby Labonte. 

* Six of the nine Winston No Bull 5 winners won from a starting position of fifth or better. The furthest back a Winston No Bull 5 winner has started the race is 20th. Dale Earnhardt did so when he won last year's Winston 500 at Talladega. 

* Three NASCAR Winston Cup fans became millionaires through the Winston No Bull 5 program last year. When Dale Jarrett won the season-opening Daytona 500, he and his fan, Melissa Brown from Pittsburgh, each won a million dollars from Winston. Two races later at Las Vegas, Jeff Burton won a rain-shortened event to collect the money and make a millionaire out of Joyce Williams from Port Isabel, Texas. Richard Sturtz from Mt. Savage, Md. won a million dollars when Dale Earnhardt won the Winston 500. 

* Burton won the Winston No Bull 5 million-dollar bonus twice in 1999 taking the checkered flag at the Coca-Cola 600 May 30 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. and the Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C. When Burton won, NASCAR Winston Cup fans Wade Smith of Metropolis, Ill. and Phyllis Farmer of Hillsboro, Mo. each took home $1 million. Jeff Gordon captured the Winston No Bull 5 million-dollar bonus Feb. 14 at the 1999 Daytona 500. With Gordon's win, NASCAR Winston Cup fan Ray Grimm of Hagerstown, Md. also won $1 million.

* In the 15 previous Winston No Bull 5 events, there have been five eligible fans from the state of Texas. Joyce Williams from Port Isabel is eligible for the carsdirect.com 400 at Las Vegas. Bryon Pratt from Houston was eligible for the 1999 Winston 500 at Talladega, Jennifer McCann from Grand Prairie and Ritchie Gregory from Dallas were eligible for the 1999 Daytona 500. Rhonda Traylor from Highlands was eligible for the 1999 Coca-Cola 600. Joyce Williams is the only Texas winner. 

* The Winston No Bull 5 was created in 1998 as a tribute to NASCAR's 50th anniversary season. The Winston No Bull 5 replaced the Winston Million, which had been in existence since 1985. Bill Elliott in 1985 and Jeff Gordon in 1997 were the only winners of the Winston Million in its 13-season run.

* The original Winston No Bull 5 schedule (1998) featured the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, Brickyard 400, Pepsi Southern 500 and the Winston 500.

* In October of 1998, the Carsdirect.com 400 at Las Vegas was added to the 1999 Winston No Bull 5 lineup, replacing the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis. In November of 1999, the Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond, Va. joined the fray replacing the Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C. This season, the program trades races at Daytona. The Daytona 500 is replaced with the July Daytona race, the Pepsi 400. 

* The $1 million Winston No Bull 5 bonus was captured three times in each of its first three seasons. In 1998, Jeff Gordon won the bonus at the Brickyard 400 and the Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C. Dale Jarrett won the Winston No Bull 5 at the Winston 500 at Talladega, Ala. In 1999, Jeff Gordon won the Daytona 500 and the Winston No Bull 5. Jeff Burton collected the when he won the Coca- Cola 600 and the Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C. Last season, Dale Jarrett won the Daytona 500, Jeff Burton won the Carsdirect.com 400 at Las Vegas and Dale Earnhardt captured the Winston 500 at Talladega, Ala. 

Winston No Bull 5 Format
1. Drivers become eligible to win the $1 million Winston No Bull 5 bonus by finishing in the top five at the previous Winston No Bull 5 event. The five races comprising the Winston No Bull 5 in 2000 are, in chronological order: the UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 (March 4); the Coca-Cola 600 (May 27) at Charlotte; the Chevrolet Monte Carlo 400 (Sept. 8) at Richmond, Va.; and the Oct. 21 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

NOTE: Eligible drivers for the 2001 UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400 at Las Vegas were determined by the top-five finishers at the final Winston No Bull 5 event of 2000, the Winston 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Mike Skinner finished sixth and replaced Dale Earnhardt. 

2. Eligible drivers at a particular Winston No Bull 5 event can win the Winston No Bull 5 million-dollar bonus by finishing first in said event.

3. If all five qualified drivers fail to capture the $1 million Winston No Bull 5 bonus at a particular Winston No Bull 5 event, the bonus will not roll over to the next event. Each Winston No Bull 5 event is worth $1 million to the qualified drivers.

4. If a qualified driver wins a Winston No Bull 5 event, one fan will also win a $1 million bonus check as part of Winston's "They Win, You Win" sweepstakes. Five fans will be eligible at each Winston No Bull 5 event. They will be selected at random through a nationwide sweepstakes program, and then each will be paired, at random, with one of the eligible Winston No Bull 5 drivers. If an eligible driver wins the Winston No Bull 5 bonus, then the fan paired with that driver will also win a $1 million check from Winston.

The following fans are qualified for the Winston No Bull 5 "They Win, You Win" fan sweepstakes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The fans and drivers will be paired on Thursday, March 1st in Las Vegas. Results of the pairing will be released on Friday, March 2, prior to NASCAR Winston Cup practice. 

* Rodney Mims, Clanton, Ala. 
* Robert Kabel, Rhinelander, Wisc. 
* Patricia Arnold, Chesapeake, Va. 
* Cindy Edwards, Hendersonville, Tenn. 
* Karen Free, Pompey, N.Y.

Including The 2001 UAW-Daimler Chrysler 400

Previous winners: Dale Earnhardt, 2000 Winston 500
Jeff Burton, 2000 CarsDirect.com 400
Dale Jarrett, 2000 Daytona 500
Jeff Burton, 1999 Pepsi Southern 500
Jeff Burton, 1999 Coca-Cola 600
Jeff Gordon, 1999 Daytona 500
Jeff Gordon, 1998 Brickyard 400
Jeff Gordon, 1998 Pepsi Southern 500
Dale Jarrett, 1998 Winston 500

The author can be contacted at frankr@autoracing1.com

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