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