Race Reports The Earnhardt Connection

Also see

Pontiac Excitement 400

Race: Pontiac Excitement 400
Date: June 6, 1998
Track: Richmond International Raceway
Qualified: 38th
Finished: 21st
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 398 of 400
Points Position Before Race/After Race: 13/12
Points Earned: 100
Money Earned: $34,250

Dale gained eight positions in the opening laps of the Pontiac Excitement 400 before his bad luck continued.  Earnhardt was up to 30th spot when he banged the left front corner of his Chevrolet against Todd Bodine, slightly knocking the toe-in out on Dale's car.  Until the toe-in was readjusted, Dale struggled just to keep up with the field's pace, and was lapped around lap 65.

"I thought we were going to have a good race car, but we tored up the front end in that first bunchup," said Earnhardt.  "That knocked the toe-in out and that pretty much put us playing catchup the rest of the night."

The most exciting action of the night came when Rusty Wallace unkindly reminded Gordon of the sport's bumpin' and grindin' roots.  With around 25 laps to go, Wallace gave Gordon a taste of concrete when he bumped Gordon's left-rear, sending the rainbow-mobile into the wall.  Much to many fans' delight, Gordon was forced to return to the garage after he stalled his car in Earnhardt's pit stall while making his way down pit road.  God must not have been watching over Gordon tonight.

Dale wrestled his way to a 21st place finish, overcoming his sub-par car and keeping himself only two laps down.  The numerous cars that were damaged in accidents during the race's last two-dozen laps contributed to Dale's finish.  Still, Earnhardt has finished no higher than 15th in the last five races at Dover, and he has finished out of the top-20 in six of the last eight races this season.  He has also qualified out of the top-20 in all but two of the 13 races so far this season.

"I don't know what went wrong," said Earnhardt after qualifying almost three MPH slower than pole-sitter Jeff Gordon.  "We ran OK in practice.  I felt like I could pick it up qualifying, but we didn't run worth a darn.   I thought I'd pick up on the second lap, but we didn't pick up a thing.  We seem to be a little late getting through the corners getting in the gas.  I don't know what we've got to do.  We've got to do something different, but I don't know what it is."

Dale is now 12th in the points standings, over 400 points behind leader Jeremy Mayfield.

1998 Unimount Enterprises