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Sacks Gets First Busch Series Victory

July 27, 1996

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) _ Greg Sacks held off record-setting pole-winner Joe Nemechek on the last lap Saturday to win the Humminbird Fishfinder 500-Kilometer race at Talladega Superspeedway.

It was the first victory in 13 Busch Grand National starts for Sacks, who earlier this month replaced Steve Grissom in this car and in the Winston Cup series.

Asked to describe the last few laps of the 311-mile, 117-lap event, Sacks called it ``nerve-wracking, hectic and physically very tough.″ He drove his Chevrolet Monte Carlo across the finish line about two car-lengths ahead of Nemechek’s Chevy.

There was a mad scramble for position throughout the competitive race, often resulting in three-wide racing as well as 21 lead changes among 12 drivers and several wild crashes, including a seven-car incident and an eight-car melee.

With 21 cars still on the lead lap and about 10 of them trying desperately to get into position to win, Todd Bodine brought out the last caution flag with a frightening crash on lap 110.

Bodine was tucked between Sacks and third-place Randy LaJoie as they sped down the backstretch at near 200 mph. LaJoie hit the back of Bodine’s Monte Carlo, sending it skidding onto the infield grass, where it soared high into the air in a spin, then banged to the ground before crashing nearly head-on into an earthen embankment. Bodine, the youngest of three racing brothers, was able to climb from the car under his own power.

He was checked at the infield medical center and released.

The green flag came out for the start of lap 114 and Sacks was able to hold the lead he had assumed for the final time on lap 108.

Nemechek passed LaJoie for second in the first turn of the last lap around the 2.66-mile track, then went after the leader. But Sacks was able to keep the dodging and darting Nemechek behind him to the finish.

``It was a heck of a shootout at the end,″ Nemechek said. ``We needed just one more lap. It took a little time to get the momentum built up and Greg was in the right place at the right time.″

Sacks, whose only Winston Cup victory came in the 1985 Pepsi 400 at Daytona, averaged 139.438 mph in the same car in which Grissom won the season-opening Goody’s 300 at Daytona. Sacks, 43, won $28,145.

LaJoie, the only Busch regular in the hunt at the end, held onto third, followed by Terry Labonte, Michael Waltrip and Jeff Purvis.

``It was kind of wild out there,″ Waltrip said. ``I’d rather not even talk about the race.″

LaJoie’s third-place finish, combined with a 10th for series leader David Green, cut Green’s margin to 44 points.

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