Rusty Wallace held off Bobby Labonte for the last 30 laps yesterday to end his 105-race winless streak, winning the Advanced Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville, Va., by 538-thousandths of a second.
Wallace, whose last victory was April 29, 2001, at California Speedway, passed Jimmie Johnson for the lead on the 456th lap and pulled away on a restart with 38 laps left as the cars behind him battled for position. He held on after Labonte emerged from the pack and tried to chase him down.
The race was halted for more than an hour with 210 laps to go after a block of concrete came lose in the third turn, leaving a dangerous hole a foot long and a foot wide in the surface.
"I'm so glad to win again," Wallace said. "Man, it's been so long and we've gotten so close. The fans have been behind me forever and ever, pulling for me really hard. This one's for them." The hole on the track, 2-to-3 inches deep, damaged defending race champion Jeff Gordon's car and may have cost him a chance at a third straight victory on the .526-mile oval, where he's also won three straight poles.
During the delay, the hole was patched with a sealant and didn't cause any more problems.
Gordon, who was running second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and seemed to have a winning car until it was damaged, dropped to 22d after a series of stops for repairs under a caution flag. He rallied to finish sixth.
Earnhardt finished third and Johnson fourth, giving Chevrolet the next three spots behind Wallace's Dodge.
Champ Car -- Paul Tracy pulled off a dangerous move on the first green flag lap of the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Calif., then drove away with an easy victory in the Champ Car World Series season opener.A crowd estimated at more than 70,000 turned out and Tracy thanked the fans for sticking with Champ Car, which survived the bankruptcy of former owner CART and considerable uncertainty over its future during the offseason.With Newman/Haas Racing teammates Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais ahead of him at the start, Tracy, the defending race and series champion, wasted little time in making his move. After the first lap was run under caution because of a ragged start, the green flag came out for the start of the second lap on the tight 1.968-mile downtown street circuit. Tracy's Forsythe Racing Lola darted to the inside, fishtailing for a moment before he completed the pass heading into the first turn, a sharp left.
Except for the laps around his pit stops, Tracy led the rest of the way, beating Junqueira by 5.681 seconds.