Sunday's MBNA Platinum 400 was dominated by Tony Stewart's Joe Gibbs run #20 Home Depot Pontiac who simply pulverised the opposition around the 'Monster Mile' beating Matt Kenseth by more than a second, a lifetime in NASCAR terms. Many NASCAR observers had dismissed Stewart's chances despite his strong run at the track last year. No driver had ever won the race from outside the top 15 on the grid but Stewart, who started 16th, was simply untouchable.

Bud Pole winner Rusty Wallace led the 43 car field away on the first of 400 laps but gradually fell down the order due to a handling problem. This left Mark Martin and Jeremy Mayfield to dispute the lead in the early going while a little further back, Stewart was already slicing through the field and was hovering around the top ten by lap 20. By lap 43 he was fifth and was soon hassling second placed Mike Skinner. The Chevy driver defended his position stoutly but has no answer to Stewart who shot through on lap 67. Five laps later he deposed of Mayfield to take the lead and from then on, only surrendered his position during the pit-stops.

Behind Stewart, Mayfield continued to challenge but was forced to retire shortly after half distance when his engine blew. He would eventually be classified 37th.

Mayfield was soon to be joined behind the wall by Mark Martin who also had a mechanical problem, later diagnosed as a broken intake valve spring. Martin was classified 36th and dropped further behind Championship leader Bobby Labonte.

Dover was once again the scene of a number of accidents and the race was punctuated by ten caution periods and a total of 58' yellow' laps. The continuing bunching of the field negated any advantage Stewart was able to make and allowed the rest of the leaders an opportunity to overhaul Stewart. On lap 284 when the leaders pitted Stewart chose to make a second stop in the hope of running the final 115 laps on a single tank of fuel.

Mindful of Bobby Labonte's fuel strategy which won him the race last year, Stewart wanted as much fuel as possible to cover all eventualities. However the second stop meant that Stewart was only seventh, behind the new leader Dale Earnhardt, Kenseth, Joe Nemechek, Labonte, Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd. Despite having one eye on his fuel consumption metre Stewart quickly cut through the field passing Earnhardt for the lead on lap 337.

Once in the lead Stewart proceeded to pull away again and all eyes turned to the pit-lane, the question of who would have to make a late race splash and dash was about to be answered. Earnhardt was the first to give, coming in on lap 381 but moments later Jeff Gordon, running eleventh and never a factor, cut a tyre and ploughed into the wall. This meant that the leaders could make a yellow flag stop while Earnhardt and Wallace, who had also pitted, were now a lap down in sixth and seventh places respectively. While Earnhardt was able to maintain that position until the end, Wallace incurred the wrath of the NASCAR stewards by passing under the yellow and was docked a lap and was eventually classified 14th.

Stewart took the lap 387 re-start ahead of Kenseth and Labonte and survived a determined challenge from the Charlotte winner to keep the lead. Stewart appeared to have the race in the bag after he saw off Kenseth but on lap 392 Sterling Marlin clipped the wall on the front stretch and brought out another caution.

When the green flag fell with just five laps remaining Labonte did his Joe Gibbs team-mate a huge favour by trying to wrest second from Kenseth. As Kenseth defended it allowed Stewart to make the decisive break, which he took with both hands.

As Stewart celebrated his victory the crowd gave him a generous response which was a great relief to the 1999 Rookie of the year who had been in some hot water with the NASCAR fans over some off the cuff remarks in a recent interview. "That's much better than the money and the trophy in my eyes," recounted Stewart of his reception. "Having people stand up and cheer. That was the best part of this win, seeing those fans all the way around cheering."

The following Kenseth recorded his eighth top ten finish in 13 races and increased his lead over Dale Earnhardt Jr in the Reybestos Rookie of the year standings. Dale Jr was able to lead a lap in the pits shuffle but was never in contention for the win and finished two laps down in tenth place.

Stewart's Joe Gibbs team-mate Bobby Labonte was pleased with his third place as it helped him increase his lead in the Winston Cup championship over Ward Burton who finished in eighth. Both Gibbs run Pontiac's benefited from a new rear bumper that NASCAR allowed any 2000 model Grand Prix to be fitted with.

Yates Racing team-mates Dale Jarrett and Ricky Rudd were the only other drivers to still be on the lead lap at the end and they rounded out the top five, neither leading a lap all day. Rudd is now the only driver in the top ten in points not to have won a race this year.

Earnhardt Senior was not too dispirited with sixth place, especially after qualifying 30th. The Intimidator moved past Mark Martin in the points standings and is now third overall but rued his late pit-stop blunder which took him out of contention. "We ran pretty good today, but I couldn't run with the 20. We pitted and the caution came out and I got a lap down....but we were lucky once too, because we had cut a right front going into turn one and I kept it out of the wall," recounted Earnhardt.

Two laps down in seventh was Joe Nemechek who ran in and around the top ten all day while sandwiched between Burton (W) and Earnhardt Jr in ninth was Skinner who also led a couple of laps.

The concrete surface of Dover once again caught out many including Gordon. Marlin, Rick Mast who came to grief after only three laps, rookies Ed Berrier, Scott Pruett and Mike Bliss and veteran Geoffrey Bodine who had pushed his Power Team Chevy into the top ten when he brushed the wall after 145 laps.

At the end of the 400 laps 32 cars were left running in various states of disrepair with Jef Burton being the last of those after his Roush crew were forced to change the transmission on the Exide Batteries Ford.

After an initially tough sophomore year, Stewart can now relax, knowing that his first 2000 win is in the bag. His performance at Dover may have led to a boring race, so boring that some fans had begun to drift away from the track before the end. As eager to please the fans as Stewart has been since THAT interview, the chances of him making the race interesting for the spectators was always going to be slim.