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Pepsi Southern 500

Race: Pepsi Southern 500
Date: Septrmber 6, 1998
Track: Darlington Raceway
Qualified: 18th
Finished: 4th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 300 of 300
Points Position Before Race/After Race: 8/8
Points Earned: 138
Money Earned: $50,550


Dale Earnhardt wasn't all that happy about his fourth-place finish Sunday in the Southern 500 at Darlington.

He was expecting a win.

Jeff Gordon came from behind in the final 70 laps to pass Jeff Burton and win his fourth consecutive Southern 500 Sunday, gaining an extra $1 million bonus as part of the Winston No Bull 5 program.

Earnhardt, who started 18th, was one of only four cars to finish the race on the lead lap, and his top-five finish Sunday ensured he will have another chance to win $1 million at the Oct. 11 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It was also Earnhardt's best performance since finishing fourth at the Martinsville race in April.

``That son of a gun (Gordon) has got it together, ain't he? We were better than usual today, but it wasn't a win,'' Earnhardt said. ``I would like to have been up there contesting him, but we just were too loose all day. We never did get hold of the race track in (Turns) 1 and 2.

``The car was good, but it was just on the loose side and I couldn't lay on it when I wanted to. I wanted to a lot, but I just couldn't do it. I sort of had to ride the pedal through the corner, and I had to ease it down.''

Earnhardt's finish was his first top-five since his fifth-place finish at Indianapolis last month. But it was also fifth top-10 finish in his past seven races.

``We finished in the top five again, and that puts us in the No Bull 5 again, but we don't need to give Gordon all the money. Him and his team are awful good,'' Earnhardt said. ``They're doing the job. He'd better ride that horse while it's running. That thing might break a leg.''

Earnhardt's team used the same car Sunday he used in his ninth-place finish at New Hampshire last weekend and the team plans on using it again in Saturday's Exide NASCAR Select 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Speedway.

``I can't say enough for this crew,'' said Earnhardt, who remains in eighth-place in the Winston Cup points race. ``They've done a good job. I think if we keep on that maybe we'll get a handle on this car and maybe get up to the front.''
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