Dale Earnhardt had three essential elements
which he used to grab a solid finish at the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway...luck,
strategy, and a front bumper. Earnhardt had neither the fastest race car nor a pit
stall on the frontstretch, but these three elements brought him another strongly needed
Earnhardt first caught luck on lap 119 when the caution came out for an accident
involving Morgan Shepherd. The caution saved Dale from being lapped by Jeremy
Mayfield, who was square on Earnhardt's rear bumper when the caution came out.
More luck came on lap 215 when Earnhardt managed to drive right through the biggest
wreck of the night without becoming involved. The accident, which was triggered
coming out of turn 4, involved over nine cars.
When the caution came out again on lap 247, Earnhardt used pit strategy.
Although none of the leaders came in for pit stops, Earnhardt pitted for four tires and
gas. The move paid its dividends. Thirty laps later the caution came out
again. All the leaders pitted while Earnhardt, with fresher tires, stayed out on the
track to assume the lead for the first time.
Earnhardt held off all challenges for the lead for 34 laps before tire wear caused
him to begin fading.
Late in the race with fresher tires Earnhardt charged forward, putting his front
bumper to the use it was designed for.
First, Earnhardt gave Jeremy Mayfield a tap, sending the No. 12 Ford Taurus into
the upper grove and allowing Earnhardt to pass underneath.
Then, with 13 laps remaining, Earnhardt began an exciting battle with Mike Skinner
for the 6th position. Just two and a half months ago Earnhardt and Skinner traded
crew chiefs...now they were trading paint. The two teammates battled for over 5 laps
until Earnhardt in the No. 3 Chevrolet finally bumped Skinner clear up the race track to
take the sixth spot.
Skinner was upset about the incident to say the least. Following the
altercation Skinner had some choice words about the Intimidator over the radio.
The strong performance brought Dale his third top-10 finish in the last five races.
Earnhardt became a Bristol millionaire following the race. Dale took home
$42,540 for his 6th place finish, boosting his winnings at "Thunder Valley"
clear over the $1 million dollar mark at the track. Earnhardt now has over $1
million dollars in earnings at nine different Winston Cup tracks.