Race Reports The Earnhardt Connection

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Texas 500

Texas 500

Race: Texas 500
Date: April 5, 1998
Track: Texas Motor Speedway
Qualified: 34th
Finished: 35th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 205 of 334
Points Earned: 58
Money Earned: $55,700

Dale qualified deep in the field one again, this time for the 2nd annual Texas 500.  And, for the second annual year, a crash started in front of him at the very start of the race.

Going into turn one on just the second lap, the 12+ car accident started when somebody made contact with Gary Bradberry.  Texas Motor Speedway is a one groove race track.  If a driver gets out of that one groove (which is the bottom groove) he will most likely loose control of his car.   When Earnhardt saw the accident, he had two choices: drive staight into the accident or go high to try to advoid it.  Dale chose to go high, and he lost control of his Chevrolet.  The rear of his car slid into the wall.  Almost simoutaniously, Darrell Waltip's #1 Chevrolet drove up the track and into the left side of Dale's car.  Most drivers interviewed blamed the accident on the track's single groove.

"It was just a big wreck," claimed Earnhardt.  "There's no where to go and not but one lane to race on, so they got their money's worth."

After the wreck Dale was able to drive his car to the garage.  The race was then red-flagged.  Finally, on lap 188, Dale got his car back onto the track to gain points.  He eventually finished 35th.

All weekend leading up to the start of the race, t-shirts saying 'Shut up and Race' were being sold around the Texas facility.  Apparentley, a track official came up with the slogan because of the drivers' chronic complaining about the track conditions.

"I've heard 'em say 'Shut up and Drive'.  Well, get us something to drive on and we'll shut up," commented Richard Childress.

After the race, it was announced that major improvements would be made to the track in an effort to improve racing conditions.  The improvements will make Texas more like Charlotte.  In three days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) approximately 40 cars were damaged at the track.

"They knew we had problems here last year, and we shouldn't have come back this year until the race track was fixed," said Childress.  "It's not fair to the car owners to lose their equipment and it isn't fair to the race fans to have to sit here and watch all the caution flags."

1998 Unimount Enterprises