Long Pond, Pa. Dale Jarrett was starting to wonder when his slump would end. He knew luck played a part when that finally happened Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Certain to be beaten by at least one driver who could have stretched his gas to the end, and being outrun by Ricky Rudd, Jarrett figured the Pocono 500 would be just another loss even though he was running well.
"That last yellow, that's when you know that prayer works," he said. "When that caution came out, I knew we'd have a chance."
Jarrett ended a 30-race losing streak and won for the third time in his career at Pocono.
He passed Rudd, his Robert Yates Racing teammate, on the 195th of 200 laps, then won under caution after Rudd hit the wall with one lap to go. Rudd looked like the driver to beat, but had a late tire problem.
"Maybe not the best car but the luckiest car won today," said Jarrett's crew chief, Todd Parrott. "You just keep praying, keep hoping and keep working."
Rudd, who continues to run well but have late problems, was almost resigned to his fate.
"I guess the good thing is we're up front when we have trouble," said Rudd, who finished 17th.
A late tire problem also killed Rudd's chance for winning a week earlier in Dover, Del.
The win was the first for 1999 Winston Cup champion Jarrett since last July in Loudon, N.H. He also won on this 21/2-mile triangle in 1995 and 1997 in the Pennsylvania 500.
Jarrett earned the 29th victory of his career. The 45-year-old driver from Hickory, N.C., has not been effective for most of this season. His best previous finish was fourth in April in Martinsville, Va.
Mark Martin had enough gas in his Ford to go the end, but was victimized when the key caution flag waved on the 168th of 200 laps. That permitted Jarrett, Rudd and the other contenders to gas up and have plenty of time to move back to the front.
Polesitter Sterling Marlin wound up fourth in a Dodge. His lead in the series standings remained 136 points over third-place finisher Jimmie Johnson. Series champion Jeff Gordon finished fifth in a Chevy. Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip, Rusty Wallace and Dave Blaney completed the top 10.
Schumacher wins Grand Prix
Montreal Michael Schumacher insists race wins and championships are no longer his main goals. The German driver won the Canadian Grand Prix, making a record-tying fifth Formula One championship a virtual rubber stamp with half a season to go.
He took the lead for good when pole-winner Juan Pablo Montoya made his second and final pit stop on lap 51 of the 70-lap event on the 2.747-mile, 13-turn road course.
His sixth win of the season stretched Schumacher's season lead to 43 points, putting him well on the way to matching Juan Manuel Fangio's record of five titles.
David Coulthard fought off Rubens Barrichello for second.
Da Matta first in CART race
Monterey, Calif. Cristiano da Matta, starting on a CART pole for the first time, won the Bridgestone Grand Prix of Monterey, his second victory of the season and sixth of his CART career. Da Matta's unchallenged triumph moved him into the lead in the championship points race. Christian Fittipaldi was second, 19.087 seconds behind the winner. Kenny Brack, who started alongside da Matta in the front row, was third, 19.410 seconds behind.
Racer dies in crash
Irwindale, Calif. Driver John Baker was killed Saturday night in a crash during the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series K&N Filters 150 at Irwindale Speedway. Baker, 49, of Tucson, Ariz., was taken to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Baldwin Park, where he died. Baker, who was wearing a neck restraint, was slowing on the second turn of the half-mile oval when he was hit from behind and his car went headlong into the exit.
It was the fourth death at the speedway. Casey Diemert of Roseburg, Ore., and Keith Cowherd of Phoenix died in 1999, the track's opening season. Christopher Shields of San Bernardino died June 7, 2001.
Woman signs with Rahal
Monterey, Calif. Danica Patrick has signed with Team Rahal with the goal of getting behind the wheel of a CART entry. The 20-year-old from Roscoe, Ill., will drive in three races this year in the Barber Pro Dodge series, the entry level in the CART ladder system for drivers. Next year, she will race a full season for Rahal in the Toyota Atlantic Series, the level just below CART. She will be the first woman driver in the Atlantic series since 1974.