One of the most exciting stock car races in years ended with the winner apologizing, with some drivers angry at others and with some angry at race officials.

Terry Labonte passed Dale Jarrett with less than two laps remaining, then held to win the Pontiac Excitement 400 before 103,000 at Richmond International Raceway.

The winning pass occurred in Turn 3 on Lap 398 of 400 just after a car crashed in Turn 1, leading Labonte to believe the caution flag would be waved when the cars reached the start-finish line along the front straightaway. Labonte pulled his Chevrolet Monte Carlo within inches of Jarrett's rear bumper, then gave a slight tap that forced Jarrett to lose his line and allowed Labonte to make the winning pass.

The race featured a series of crashes in the final 30 laps. On the cool-down lap following the race, Jarrett -- apparently angry over Labonte's pass -- bumped his car into Labonte's several times. NASCAR spokesman Jeff Motley said the incident will be reviewed and Jarrett could be fined.

Labonte said he felt bad about the way he made the winning pass.

"I got into the 88 {Jarrett}," Labonte said. "I know he's mad at me. I was trying to race him back to the line because I thought there was going to be a caution {that would have effectively ended the race}. I hit him. I hate that it happened. Dale's a good guy and always runs a clean race. I hope he understands. I didn't do it on purpose."

But that wasn't the only controversy of the race.

On Lap 372, with Rusty Wallace clinging to the lead, Jeff Gordon tried to pass Wallace on the outside in Turn 2. Their cars made contact, with the right front of Wallace's Ford Taurus clipping the left rear of Gordon's Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Gordon's car crashed into the wall and sustained heavy front end damage.

Many in the crowd cheered wildly for Gordon's misfortune as Gordon's crew chief, Ray Evernham, shook his fist in disgust.

"It was pretty obvious -- somebody can't stand you getting past them," Gordon said. "I was coming out of Turn 2. I had the spot on him and he pinched me up into the wall. I finally got in front of him and he runs into me."

Said Wallace: "I didn't see any controversy going on. I drove into the corner and he drove into the corner. We touched, a little racing accident."

Wallace continued on, but stopped for a tire change on the ensuing caution, handing the lead over to Jarrett. The race restarted on Lap 383, but Ricky Rudd spun out trying to make a pass for second place, bringing out another caution. The race restarted again on Lap 390, only to be halted on Lap 393 when Kevin Lepage's car leaked fluid onto the track.

Instead of continuing the race under caution, NASCAR officials brought out a controversial red flag, stopping the race for 14 minutes 33 seconds while workers cleaned the track.

Members of several teams said they thought the race should have continued under caution, even if it meant finishing it that way. Since cars are not allowed to change positions on the track during a caution, Jarrett would have won if the race went the distance under caution.

However, Motley defended the decision.

"It was an opportunity to give the guys a chance to race for the win," Motley said. "It's as simple as that. With seven laps to go, if we can race for a finish, we're going to do that."

After the delay, the race resumed on Lap 396, with four laps remaining. Labonte was third on the restart, but quickly got by Ken Schrader for second, then passed Jarrett for the lead while Johnny Benson's car sputtered along the outside wall in Turn 1.

When Benson tried to complete the race instead of going to the pits with his damaged car, NASCAR officials put out the caution flag at the end of Lap 399, meaning the final lap was run under caution. However, Wallace apparently didn't see the yellow flag and tried to pass Labonte, who sped up and stayed in front. He claimed $99,975 for the victory.

Notes: Former Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, who owns the No. 18 car driven by Bobby Labonte, said he has interviewed with ESPN for a possible job working on the cable channel's NFL coverage this fall. However, Gibbs, who worked as a studio analyst for NBC last season, said he has not been offered a job and is uncertain if he will be on the air next season. NBC lost its rights to CBS following the season.

"I'm not sure what their deal is and whether they will let me work around racing," said Gibbs, who also owns a Busch Grand National race team and two drag racing teams. "We just talked. I talked about what I'd like to do and what they might have." . . .

A NASCAR source indicated the Winston Cup series likely will add a 34th race to the circuit next season. The addition, reported today by the Charlotte Observer, will be at a track in Homestead, Fla., outside of Miami.