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Jeremy Mayfield Stays Focused, Wins Pocono 500

June 22, 1998|From Associated Press

Jeremy Mayfield knew he had the best car, and realized that overconfidence would be his greatest adversary Sunday in the waning laps of the Pocono 500.

"With about 25 laps to go, the caution came out, and I knew right then that I had the car that could win the race," he said after dominating the field to win for the first time on the Winston Cup circuit. "I was already thinking about Victory Lane . . . and had to regain my focus."

His Ford averaged 117.801 mph and beat Jeff Gordon's Chevrolet by 0.341 seconds at Pocono International Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

The victory came in a bizarre race that was his 125th start.

Mayfield took the lead for the final time in the rain-interrupted race on the 180th of 200 laps over the 2 1/2-mile track.

The race was red-flagged by rain for 1 hour 11 minutes. With that delay and nine cautions covering 47 laps, the race lasted 5:25:40.

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Alex Zanardi took advantage of a pit-stop strategy blunder by Bryan Herta's Team Rahal to win the Budweiser-G.I. Joe's 200.

Zanardi has needed just 41 races to get his dozen wins. Only Rick Mears won 12 times in a shorter period. He did it in 38 races.

After starting in the No. 5 spot in the 28-car field, Zanardi's Reynard Honda finished 6.839 seconds ahead of runner-up Scott Pruett's Reynard Ford Cosworth. Herta, who started on the pole in the Team Rahal Reynard Ford Cosworth, was third, 7.109 seconds behind the winner. Zanardi's average speed was 101.355 mph.

Herta's His team gambled to take an unscheduled pit stop during a yellow caution flag on the 14th lap of the 98-lap race. He still needed two more stops to have enough fuel to finish the race.

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The Suzuki motorcycle racing team won its first victory in the Loudon Classic in 10 years on Sunday.

Aaron Yates of Milledgeville, Ga., took the title at the 75th annual running of the American Motorcycle Association's Loudon Classic at New Hampshire International Speedway, part of the MBNA Superbike Tour.

Yates beat teammate and pole sitter Mat Mladin of Australia. Mladin, the 1997 Loudon Classic champ, won the pole Friday during qualifications, which were canceled Saturday because of rain.

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