The Earnhardt Connection - Race Reports

Race Report for:
Bud Shootout Qualifying Race
The Earnhardt Connection

Race: Bud Shootout Qualifying Race
Date: February 8, 1998
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Qualified: 3rd (Dale's starting position was determined in a drawing.)
Finished: 3rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 25 of 25
Points Earned: 0 (This was a non-points event.)
Money Earned: $20,428
Summary: The Bud Shootout Qualifying Race consisted of all drivers who qualified with the with fastest speed during 2nd round qualifying in 1997. In other words, every driver who qualified 26th last year was in the field. The winner of the event transferred into the Bud Shootout. The Bud Shootout was composed of all drivers who won a pole in 1997. This race was Earnhardt's first of the year.

At the start of the Bud Shootout Qualifying Race, Sterling Marlin, Earnhardt, and Greg Sacks, respectively, grabbed the top 3 spots. The trio of drivers separated themselves from the rest of the pack.

At lap 10, drivers stopped for a mandatory pit stop. The rules required that a minimum of 2 tires be changed on each car. The Richard Childress crew put together a satisfactory pit stop, but Dale's car stalled as he tried to pull out of his pit space. As a result, Dale fell form 2nd place to 8th place.

Once the cars were back on the track, Dale stormed forward, closing a big gap between himself and Lake Speed. The top 5 cars were now running single file, with Earnhardt in 5th. Then, Brett Bodine, who was running 2nd, got caught on the outside. "Hung out to dry", Brett helplessly slipped to 5th place. Next, Lake Speed drove under Sterling Marlin for 2nd place. Dale chose to follow Speed's Ford rather than Marlin's Chevrolet. Marlin fell to fourth place and lost the draft, separating the top 3 cars from the rest of the field. The order was Jimmy Spencer, Lake Speed, and Dale Earnhardt. Dale tried numerous times in the last few laps to make a move on Spencer, but with no cooperation from Lake Speed, Earnhardt ended the race in 3rd.

Dale was angry at Speed's lack of effort to move into the lead. It was the first time since 1992 that Earnhardt failed to make the Bud Shootout. He is the winningest driver in the Shootout, with 6 victories.
Post-Race Quotes: "That was a heck of a race," Earnhardt said. "I played the cards but I played them a little wrong. I think I should have bet on Sterling instead of the 9. You've got to have a lot of help in the draft and work with the cars. Looking back at it I'd like to have Sterling's experience working with me other than the 9."
"I guess I should have followed you," Earnhardt said to Marlin after climbing from his car in the garage area. "All he (Speed) wanted to do was finish second."
"Earnhardt kept trying to tell me to back off and let him go," Speed said. "I figured all he was doing was trying to get me to be stupid and let him get by me. I wasn't falling for that dumb stuff. I was trying to do the best I could and go on."
Related Articles: Results: Bud Shootout Qualifying Race

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