Earnhardt chases second Brickyard trophy
Indianapolis, IN (Aug. 3,
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
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
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
"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