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Earnhardt, 48, says retirement not a consideration
'99 News
Joe Macenka - AP

Dale Earnhardt says he's not ready to give up the wheel yet.

Concord, N.C. (May 21, 1999)
Dale Earnhardt doesn't want anyone to think he's pondering retirement just because his contract to drive for Richard Childress expires after next season.

Earnhardt, 48, said Friday that Childress already has begun discussions about keeping the team together, including primary sponsor GM Goodwrench Service, through the 2003 Winston Cup season.

"Things are going to start happening here soon as far as which direction we're going to go," Earnhardt said. "If I can race good and win and feel good about myself, about my driving, I think I can still do it. I'm there."

Earnhardt won the last of his seven Winston Cup championships in 1994, and just two of his 72 career race victories have come in the past three seasons.

"I pretty much feel like I'm a top-five driver," said Earnhardt, who won at Talladega, Ala., last month and is ninth in this year's points standings. "I can get in there and do it with them."

One bonus for Earnhardt staying around in Winston Cup racing would be getting to compete against Dale Jr., 24, the reigning Busch Series champion who is scheduled to move up to the top circuit full time next year.

"It's unbelievable the way your kids grow up and the way things change over the years," the elder Earnhardt said. "I'm having fun with it, enjoying seeing him do what he's doing."