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Winston Select

Winston Select

Race: Winston Select
Date: May 16, 1998
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Qualified: 19th
Finished: 19th
Status: Accident
Laps Completed: 9 of 70
Points Earned: 0 (non-points event)
Money Earned: $18,000

Dale Earnhardt, a three-time winner of The Winston, was involved in a three-car accident in the early stages of Saturday's event. The mishap occurred on the ninth lap of the first 30-lap segment.  Darrell Waltrip's No. 1 Pennzoil Chevrolet, owned by Earnhardt, blew an engine and put down oil going into turn one.  Earnhardt and John Andretti, who were immediately behind Waltrip, slipped in the oil and spun out.  The driver's side of Dale's car slammed hard into the outside wall before sliding to the bottom of the track where it came to a rest.

After the accident, Earnhardt walked the short distance from the infield care center to an ambulance with his jumpsuit around his waist, revealing a bare chest. At 9:56 p.m., the ambulance pulled away toward University Medical Center, lights flashing.

"It could have broken Dale's ribs," said Richard Childress, owner of the No. 3 Chevrolet, which sported a gold color Saturday for a special Bass Pro Shop sponsorship. "He had a lot of pain in his chest."

"I've made way too many visits to the hospital this year. He's real sore. It's a tough deal. It's one of those deals. I guess the (No.) 1 car blew up and we happened to be in the wrong place."

At the University Medical Center, he was checked out and X-rayed.  After discovering he was OK, Earnhardt left for his home in Kannapolis, N.C., via his private helicopter.

Earnhardt, who had to start at the back of the field because he overshot his pit stall in Friday's qualifying, had already spun once, in Turn 4, before the crash that ended his night.

Waltrip's crew apparently pushed his engine past its limit, causing it to expire before the event's first segment was even over.

"I told them [his crew] to build me a motor like the one I won with here in 1985," Waltrip said, recalling his only victory in The Winston.  In that race, his engine blew as he took the checkered flag.

"I forgot to tell them I had to run the whole race," he said.

Asked about wrecking Earnhardt, his car owner, Waltrip joked: "Yeah, he's not going to be happy about this. I think I'll change clothes and go home."

Earnhardt will return to action on Wednesday night for Bud Pole Qualifying for next Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.

1998 Unimount Enterprises