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Earnhardt chases second Brickyard trophy
'99 News

Indianapolis, IN (Aug. 3, 1999)
Dale Earnhardt and his GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet team have posted their best string of starts and finishes of the 1999 season recently. Since his win at Talladega, Earnhardt has made Bud Pole Qualifying nine times in 11 races, and has finished in the top-10 in eight of those races. Comparing those numbers to the team's first eight races, when Earnhardt averaged a 29th starting and 19th finishing position, and one can easily see the improvement.

Earnhardt has raced in four of the five NASCAR Winston Cup Series events held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He has started all five events, but on Lap 7 of the 1996 Brickyard, he climbed out of his Monte Carlo to let relief driver Mike Skinner finish the event. Six days earlier Earnhardt was in a bad accident at Talladega that kept him in the hospital overnight with a broken sternum and collarbone. He still qualified his No. 3 car 12th and was running in the top-10 when he climbed out of the machine.

The team started on the outside pole for the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994. On the Bud Pole that day edging out Earnhardt was veteran driver Rick Mast. Crew chief for Mast in 1994, was Kevin Hamlin, who has been Earnhardt's crew chief since the summer of 1998.

"We won the pole with Rick the first time I came here in 1994," Hamlin said. "It was a big deal because of NASCAR's first race at the Brickyard. We got a new van and some spending money I believe we celebrated a little that night."

The team has posted three top-5s and one win in five races at Indianapolis. The have completed all but one lap since the series began running at Indianapolis.

"Every team puts a lot of effort into this race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway," Earnhardt said. "We tested here a few weeks ago and it was productive. We found some things that we feel will help us during the race, our times didn't show a blistering pace, but we left here with some good information.

"You can feel the history every time you drive through the tunnels here at IMS. The tradition that this track holds is remarkable. As a kid you always heard about Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the noise and large crowds, you have to see it to believe it."

You'd better believe Earnhardt would like to earn his second victory of the season Saturday.

"We've come a long way since the start of the season," Earnhardt said. "In the first four races we had two DNFs and that dropped us in the points faster than the draft passing you at Talladega. We've turned it around with good starts and top-10 finishes. Now we need to make those top-5 finishes and we'll be back on track.

"I'm fortunate that my name is next to all of the great drivers that have won here. It's something that you dream about when you start racing, just like hitting that game winning home run or catching that winning pass. As a race car driver you dream about winning Daytona and Indianapolis, to achieve not one but both of those is a tremendous feeling of accomplishment as a driver."

Car owner Richard Childress says that his two teams (Earnhardt and Skinner) are ready to roll again, after Skinner's crew chief Larry McReynolds has clarified his future plans.

"We have no excuses," Childress said. "We have two good teams that haven't had the success they deserve. Distractions haven't helped, we now know what Larry's plans are and we have an idea of what NASCAR's plans are with the 2000 Chevrolet. We're beginning to see improvements and I think we're headed in the right direction."