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Earnhardt's resurgence gives owner renewed confidence
'99 News
Mike Harris, AP Motorsports Writer

Dale Earnhardt's strong recent performances have given Richard Childress new hope.

(Sept. 10, 1999)
Despite a bad day last Sunday in Darlington, S.C., Dale Earnhardt's resurgence has a lot of NASCAR people buzzing.

The 48-year-old Earnhardt, whose last of seven championships came in 1994, is riding the crest of eight top-10 finishes in 10 starts. He is also close to signing an extension of his current contract that will keep him with Richard Childress Racing through at least the 2003 season.

Childress, whose team helped Earnhardt to six Winston Cup titles, said all along he believes his longtime driver can still contend for championships.

Two wins this season and this latest surge by Earnhardt has given Childress even more confidence in his driver, as well as more determination to give Earnhardt all the tools he needs to get the job done.

``We want to get this program on a solid, consistent basis by the end of the year so we can come out next year running in the top five every week,'' Childress said. ``Thats what you've got to do to contend for the championship.''

As for Earnhardt's strong recent showing, the team owner said, ``Any time you get on a roll, winning races or running good, it seems to feed on itself and you just run better every week.

``I think the win (in Bristol, Tenn., on Aug. 28) let everybody know we can run competitive like at Michigan the week before. We went out there and took the lead and were racing with the cars we've got to race for the championship.

``It makes our guys feel strong about going into next year. We haven't put this year behind us yet, but we know how we have to end up this season to be strong enough to be a championship contender next year. We know what it takes to do it. We've been there, and you can't do it running in the top 10. You've got to have a lot of top five finishes.''