Nothing came easy for Ricky Rudd all day, so it was a real surprise to find nobody in his rear-view mirror with less than three laps remaining in Sunday's NASCAR race at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Rudd, who overcame a spinout and two flat tires in the first half of the race, led as the green flag waved with three laps remaining after a caution period.
"Waddell (team manager Waddell Wilson) told me on the radio, 'If you got any kind of tricks available, you'd better use 'em now,' " Rudd said. "But I know that NASCAR will penalize you for jumping the start, so I had to be kind of careful, too."
He got a big, legal jump and second-place Alan Kulwicki, fighting a slipping clutch, held up the rest of the leaders.
"I looked in my mirror and thought, 'Where is everybody?' " said Rudd. "We only had three laps of racing, and I didn't look back again."
The victory gave the elite Hendrick Motorsports team, which fields four cars in most Winston Cup events, its first win of the year, 18 races into the 29-race season.
Early on, the race was shaping up as a duel between pole-starter Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace before those two tangled on lap 45. They had dominated the first half of the race, taking turns in the lead.
Earnhardt, who was leading at the time, tagged Wallace as the second-place runner attempted to get past in the first turn. The cars came together, with Earnhardt spinning and Wallace getting into the grass. Both went out of contention, although they did finish.
Rudd, who spun out on the 10th of 90 laps in the 219-mile race after bumping Geoff Bodine in heavy traffic, had to make two pit stops because of flat tires.
The second came on lap 42 after he had worked his way into the lead with the aid of two early caution flags. But the 33-year-old driver from Chesapeake, Va., kept hustling his Chevrolet Lumina toward the front as most of the leaders experienced some type of problem on the narrow seven-turn, 2.428-mile road circuit.
Finally, on lap 81, Kulwicki stopped for gas. His Ford Thunderbird came out trailing Rudd by 9.23 seconds, and Rudd built that margin to 11.1 seconds by lap 83.
Rudd won by 6.54 seconds over Bodine and averaged 92.452 m.p.h., earning $55,000 for his 11th career victory before 120,000 spectators.
Thierry Boutsen of Belgium went wire-to-wire to win the Hungarian Grand Prix at Budapest in record time.
Ayrton Senna of Brazil challenged in the final lap to finish second, 0.288 seconds behind. Nelson Piquet of Brazil was third, 27.605 seconds back.
Boutsen, who started from the pole position on the Hungaroring circuit, averaged a record 104 m.p.h. in his Williams-Renault for his third career victory. His time for the 77-lap, 190.2-mile race was 1 hour 49 minutes 30.597 seconds.
By the 70th lap, only 50 meters and 1.1 seconds separated first from fourth place. On the 72nd lap, Austria's Gerhard Berger and Nigel Mansell of Britain both went off the track on a tight curve. That left Piquet in third and Italy's Riccardo Patrese in fourth.
Senna, who drove a backup car after his main car was found to have a hole in the radiator, remained atop of the standings with 54 points.
Frenchman Alain Prost, whose Ferrari went off the track on the 37th lap, is second overall with 44 points.
Wayne Rainey, of Downey, won the Swedish 500cc motorcycling Grand Prix at Anderstorp, Sweden, virtually clinching the world championship.
Rainey, riding a Yamaha, finished 1.149 seconds ahead of teammate Eddie Lawson at the Scandinavian Raceway.
It was Rainey's sixth Grand Prix victory in 12 races this season. With a 47-point lead, he needs to finish fourth in one of the three remaining races for the title.
Off-road racing veterans Roger Mears and Walker Evans took class victories in the High Desert Racing Assn. Jeep Desert Championship at Willow Springs International Raceway.
Mears won in Class 7 for compact pickup trucks and Evans won the heavy-metal class for full-size pickups in the first major off-road event held at the Willow Springs track.