Earnhardt earns fourth straight
top-10 July 11
Earnhardt is starting to find something that he hasn't been too familiar with over the
past two years - consistency.
The Intimidator started 14th and drove to an eighth-place
finish in Sunday's Jiffy Lube 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway, recording his
fourth-straight top-10 finish in the process and cutting his deficit to 81 points behind
Tony Stewart, who is sixth in the Winston Cup points standings.
Jeff Burton inherited the lead with two laps remaining after
both John Andretti and Tony Stewart ran out of fuel to earn his third straight Jiffy Lube
300 title and ninth career victory. Burton joins Jeff Gordon as the only three-time
winners at the "Magic Mile."
Kenny Wallace posted a career-best second place finish,
followed by Gordon, Winston Cup points leader Dale Jarrett and Bill Elliott.
Earhardt was running in the top five with 98 laps remaining
when Bobby Labonte's No. 18 Pontiac went into a spin ahead of him. Earnhardt turned down
the track to avoid Labonte, and went into a spin of his own.
He was forced to pit twice for tires and fender work,
dropping him all the way to 19th, but the upside was that he was able to take on enough
fuel to make it to the finish under green. Over the final 80 laps, Earnhardt picked up
spots as those ahead of him were forced to pit, finally crossing the line eighth.
Earnhardt is 515 points behind Jarrett in the standings with
16 races remaining on the schedule.
Earnhardt finding consistency
in qualifying July 9
Dale Earnhardt's resurgence in Bud Pole
qualifying continued Friday at the New Hampshire International Speedway as the Intimidator
put the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet 14th in the starting lineup for Sunday's
Jiffy Lube 300.
Earnhardt turned his qualifying lap around the "Magic
Mile" in 29.371 seconds at an average speed of 129.679 mph.
Earnhardt, who has struggled in qualifying for the better
part of the last three years, has now made the top-25 in five of his last six starts and
11 of 18 this season. The numbers aren't great, but considering Earnhardt suffered through
a string of six-straight failed qualifiers between the Las Vegas 400 and the Goody's Body
Pain 500, they aren't bad either.
Jeff Gordon won his sixth Bud Pole of '99, knocking Rusty
Wallace from the provisional pole with a lap in 29.037 seconds at a session-best speed of
131.171 mph. Wallace was second, followed by Bobby Labonte, Ken Schrader and Kyle Petty,
who round out the top-five.
Earnhardt's improvement in qualifying is also indicative of
the way things are going for Richard Childress Racing. Both of Childress' cars (Earnhardt
and Mike Skinner) finished in the top-five at Saturday's Pepsi 400 and look to make their
way into Victory Lane for the first time at Loudon on Sunday.
"This is one of the tracks that we haven't won on,"
Earnhardt said. "We've been close a few times, maybe this will be our weekend. The
momentum from last week's finish really has this team ready to race. The crew is doing
their part by giving me good cars and great pit stops. It's up to me to get the car to the
front and into Winner's Circle."
To do so, Earnhardt will have to get by his son, Dale Jr.,
who put the Budweiser Chevrolet one spot ahead of his father on the starting grid.