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MBNA Gold 400

MBNA Gold 400

Race: MBNA Gold 400
Date: September 20, 1998
Track: Dover Downs International
Qualified: 43rd
Finished: 23rd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 396 of 400
Points Position Before Race/After Race: 8/8
Points Earned: NA
Money Earned: $NA


Dale Earnhardt passed another milestone in his illustrious career.  When Earnhardt took the green flag for 400 brutal laps of the "Monster Mile," he made his 600th Winston Cup start.  Terry Labonte also made his 600th start in Winston Cup.

Earnhardt's first start came in 1975 when he raced in Charlotte's World 600.   Since then he has only missed four races, those due to injuries he would later suffer in an accident at Pococno Raceway.

Labonte, who holds the series record for consecutive starts, competed in his 595th straight race on Sunday.  He's on pace to make his 600th straight start at Phoenix on Oct. 25.  Earnhardt and Labonte have combined for nine Winston Cup titles since 1980.

Jeff Gordon, two-time Winston Cup champion and teammte of Terry Labonte, paid homage to the two stock car racing icons.

"I want to be in this sport for a long time," Gordon said. "I just hope I can be as competitive as those guys have been for that many years. It's amazing to me that when I'm totally beat after a 400 or 500-mile race and I think these guys are 15 or 20 years older than me and are able to do this. I hope I have that kind of spirit and strength when I'm that age and I'm still able to be competitive. I'm going to make 'em work for it no matter what. I know they'd make me work for it."

Unfortunately, Earnhardt made no other headlines during the weekend.  After qualifying a dismal 43rd Earnhardt struggled throughout the race.  Following the completion of 400 brutal miles Earnhardt finished 23rd, four laps down.

The finish was dissapointing at least, especially after Earnhardt finished 2nd in this race last year.  In Earnhardt's first 11 races with Kevein Hamlin, he finished no lower than 18th.  However, in his last two races with Hamlin he has finished 38th and 23rd.
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