Race Reports The Earnhardt Connection

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Results:
Exide 400


Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400

Race: Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400
Date: September 12, 1998
Track: Richmond International Raceway
Qualified: 34th
Finished: 38th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 260 of 400
Points Position Before Race/After Race: 8/8
Points Earned: 49
Money Earned: $34,495

Summary:

Earnhardt looked strong in the opening laps of Saturday night's Exide 400 ... until disaster struck.  Earnhardt was moving up through the field from his 34th starting spot when, on lap 35, Robert Pressley's car got nudged out of shape and he slammed into the outside wall on the backstretch.  He bounced off and hit Earnhardt and Joe Nemechek, with Earnhardt's car winding up in flames at the entrance to Turn 3.  Earnhardt climbed from his burning Chevrolet as the safety crew quickly extinguished the flames that were raging from the right front.

"It really wasn't that hard of a lick," said Earnhardt, who had three consecutive top-10 finishes entering the 400.  "It hit the right front and knocked the A-frame back in and knocked the fuel line off.  That's where the big fire was."

After making somewhat extensive repairs in the garage area, the team returned to the track to pick up every valuable point possible.  Earnhardt eventually finished 38th, some 140 laps down.

Perhaps the biggest setback from the accident was that it involved one of the team's best cars.  This car was first used in New Hampshire two races ago after Dale's primary car was damaged in an accident during practice.  Earnhardt finished a strong ninth with it.  Then, the car was taken to Darlington where it ran to a strong fourth place finish.  This week the team decided to use it for the third straight race, hoping for the third time to be a charm.  Seeing their fortuitous car bruised and burned was not their idea of a charm.
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