Todd Bodine wins final lap battle

March 17, 2003 at 4:06 PM
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DARLINGTON, S.C., March 17 (UPI) -- Todd Bodine won Monday's NASCAR Busch Series 200 by barely beating Jamie McMurray.

Bodine and McMurray staged a side-by-side battle to the checkered flag that resulted in both cars spinning across the finish line. Bodine crossed the finished line in a sideways slide while McMurray's car was in a full fledge spin and just a tick too late.

The finish nearly was identical to Sunday's Winston Cup race, which was won by Ricky Craven, except both cars in Monday's race lost control before crossing the finish line.

"I have to apologize to Jamie; I don't want to race that way," Bodine said. "He got into me and I tried to save the car and got into him. We were a little loose because I had burned the tires off the car. I was loose at the end but had enough tires to do it. We have a flair for the dramatic, I guess."

Scott Riggs was third followed by Stacy Compton.

With four laps to go, Bodine passed Compton for the lead with McMurray on the rear of his car. Compton's team decided to gamble on fuel by not pitting.

It was the second time in the last three Busch races this season that the contest had to be staged on a Monday morning after a Saturday rainout.

The winning car is co-owned by Frank Herzog and baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson.

With qualifications for the race rained out Thursday, Stan Barrett started on the pole because he is driving the same car that Greg Biffle drove to win last year's Busch Series title. Biffle now is in the Winston Cup Series.

Barrett led the first 15 laps before Johnny Sauter forged ahead.

On lap 28, the yellow flag waved for the first time after a multi-car crash. Michael Waltrip had a right-rear tire deflate, putting him into the fourth-turn wall and Kerry Earnhardt ran into the back of him. David Green also was involved.

The leaders pitted led by Sauter when the pits opened. Sauter was first off pit road to retain his lead followed by Scott Wimmer.

Bodine was the leader at the halfway point of the race and began to pull away from the field. But Riggs was able to pull ahead when he went to the outside and passed Bodine with 50 laps to go.

Riggs and Bodine both pitted with 25 laps left in the race. Riggs' crew changed all four tires and sent him out of the pits in 17 seconds. That put Compton in the lead as the race entered its final stage.

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