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Winston 500

Winston 500

Race: Winston 500
Date: October 11, 1998
Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Qualified: 14th
Finished: 32nd
Status: Accident
Laps Completed: __ of __
Points Position Before Race/After Race: 8/8
Points Earned: NA
Money Earned: $NA


Earnhardt 32nd after big wreck 10-11-98
Dale Earnhardt overcame adversity many times in Sunday's Winston 500, but in the end his recently poor Talladega luck overruled, handing him a disappointing 32nd-place finish.

Earnhardt struggled to get to the front of the field at the start of the race.  He fell back to as far as 30th position.  But following the first pit stop, even though the crew made no adjustments, Earnhardt's car seemed nearly flawless.  He soon took the lead on lap 66, leading for 7 laps.  Then he was passed by Skinner and Jarrett.

On lap 108 Dale pit while leaders stayed on the track.  The caution came out.   Earnhardt beat the leaders back to the start/finish line while he was exiting pit road after his 4-tire stop.  Now he had already taken his 2nd pit stop and he was on the lead lap, while the leaders still had to make their 2nd pit stop.  They pit under the yellow while Earnhardt remained on the track to take the lead.  He held the lead for many laps before Skinner passed him.

But then came trouble.  For the 3rd consecutive race at Talladega Earnhardt was involved in the "big wreck."  It started when Ernie Irvan entered the center lane while Sterling Marlin (who was lapped) was already there.  Irvan began spinning out. Marlin braked to avoid Irvan who was spinning. Earnhardt was not able to slow fast enough and ran into Marlin. Wally Dallenback, who was behind Earnhardt, ran into Earnhardt. Both the front and rear of Dale's car was damaged. Dale made several pit stops over the long caution that followed the big wreck. The Goodwrench crew working feverishly to repair the aerodynamic damage to the car. Fortunately there was no other damage to the car Besides that. Dale stayed on lead lap.

When the green finally dropped, Dale roared from 14th to 6th in 2 laps. He stayed in the top-7 for over a dozen laps battling with the leaders. But then things got bad again. Earnhardt dropped off the pace. His rear gear was torn up.

"The rear end came out of it," he said. "We tore the gear up. I don't know if something happened when I spun down there and caused it or what. It started vibrating about 15 laps and kept running and it got worse and then it started slowing down and tore up. It's restrictor plate racing. It's just jammed up on top of each other. The 36 just chopped Sterling off trying to get in line and spun himself out. I was on the brakes and Sterling was on the brakes. We just sort of jammed nose to nail. I spun sideways and luckily got straightened back up. I was aimed in the right direction so we got out of there OK. It was just one of them deals I guess, but restrictor-plate racing sure is aggravating."

Gordon practically wrapped up his 3rd title when Mark Martin was involved in the big wreck too.

More details coming soon.

Earnhardt qualifies 14th for Winston 500
Qualifying for the first of two consecutive restrictor plate races on the Winston Cup schedule took place Friday when nearly 50 drivers took a shot at the pole for this Sunday's Winston 500.  Earnhardt was able to muster a lap of only 193.685 MPH for 14th starting position.  His slow time can be blamed on his new race car.  This car has little testing on it.  Dale would have used his car from the Spring race at Talladega, in which he qualified second with, but that car was destroyed in an accident in that race.  As if having to use a new car wasn't bad enough, the team missed most of this morning's practice.  The car could not pass the initial inspection and the crew was forced to make modifications before NASCAR allowed the car on the track.  When the modifications were finally made Dale was over an hour and a half behind everyone else.  Earnhardt will use all the testing on Saturday to hopefully improve his new race car.

Earnhardt returns to his Superspeed ways
Shaping for two consecutive restrictor-plate races has several teams in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series scrambling over the next couple of weeks.  It only leaves Earnhardt and the GM Goodwrench Service Plus No. 3 team smiling.

Earnhardt, the winningest driver at both Talladega and Daytona, looks forward to the next two weekends of racing with a biting hunger to score another victory.  He is a master of high-speed restrictor-plate racing, which will bunch up the field of 43 cars leaving no margin for error.

Earnhardt will have additional incentive to win the Winston 500 this weekend.  He will be one of five drivers competing for the final leg of Winston's "No Bull 5" following his top-5 finish in September at the Southern 500.

"Talladega has been a good track for me," Earnhardt said.  "I can't think of a better place to race for a $1-million dollar bonus than Talladega.

Five of Earnhardt's seven Talladega victories have come in the second event of the year, which was held in late July or early August until last year.

"We had a really good car there in the spring and got caught up in an accident," said Earnhardt, who has been in more than his fair share of superspeedway accidents.  "That's the nature of Talladega.  Anything can happen at any time there.  You've got to be patient and make the right moves.  If not, you'll find yourself at the back of the draft or in the garage.

"That's two places you don't want to be, especially with the race coming to the checkered flag."
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