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
Gordon practically wrapped up his 3rd title when Mark Martin was involved in the big wreck
More details coming soon.
Earnhardt qualifies 14th for Winston 500 10-9-98
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
Earnhardt returns to his Superspeed ways 10-6-98
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
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."