in to Dale Earnhardt's postrace news conference (RealAudio)
clip of incident
Fan e-mails regarding
the Bristol race
The Winds of Bristol Aug. 29
Every season for the past 20 years, I've looked
forward to this race. Bristol is the true race fan's track. It's exciting, edge of your
seat, full contact NASCAR. Every race is filled with excitement and, more often than not,
controversy. This one was definitely no exception. Full Report.
Earnhardt bumps, passes Labonte to win
Dale Earnhardt made a
classic move on Terry Labonte during Saturday night's Goody's 500 to win his second race
of the 1999 season. In turn 2 on the final lap of the race, Earnhardt closed in on Labonte
to "rattle" him. Contact by Earnhardt sent Labonte spinning while Earnhardt
ducked to the inside to take the win.
"Terry got into me in the middle of turns 3 and 4," Earnhardt said after
climbing from his Chevrolet in Victory Lane. "I got back to him and I meant to rattle
him. I didn't mean to wreck him, I just meant to rattle his cage a little bit."
The finish somewhat resembled the 1995 Goody's 500. In that
race, Earnhardt, while in 2nd, bumped Labonte on the final lap, only Labonte held on to
win that race, crossing the finish line spinning. This time, though, Earnhardt got by.
Earnhardt started the race from 26th position. Just 65 laps in, he cracked into the
top-10. Because Dale pitted on the backstretch, it was hard for him to stay in the top-5.
During the sixth caution of 10 caution periods on lap
299, Labonte, driver of the Kellogg's Chevrolet, Earnhardt, Jimmy Spencer, in the Winston
Ford, Geoffrey Bodine, in the Power Team Chevrolet and Ricky Rudd, in the Tide Ford, all
elected not to pit, putting them in the top-5.
Earnhardt first took the lead with 121 laps left after moving around Terry Labonte.
He stayed up front until the caution came out on Lap 410 for Dave Marcis stopped,
who's car was stopped high against the Turn 2 wall. When Marcis drove away after the
caution came out, NASCAR thought Dave was cheating for Earnhardt. Since Marcis has often
been helped in his racing efforts by Richard Childress, Earnhardt's car owner, suspicion
arose that Marcis brought out the caution intentionally. NASCAR penalized him a lap for
``intentionally causing a caution,'' one that allowed the leaders to come in for a pit
stop they would need soon anyway.
NASCAR said that Marcis
claimed he stopped where he did because he couldn't get across the track to pit road, but
NASCAR said he had ample chance to do so on the two laps he had been driving slowly before
With Earnhardt pitting on the backstretch, he came out third behind Labonte and
Gordon as the race restarted. Stewart made up some ground in the pits, too, and came out
Earnhardt passed Gordon on the outside coming off of turn 2 on lap 426 to move into
second. Earnhardt took the lead back from Labonte on Lap 435 with a pass on the inside in
turns 3 and 4, with Stewart closing in to make it a three-way battle.
But after loosing the lead to Terry Labonte with 57 laps left, it looked like
Earnhardt's chances at winning were beginning to fade, as Terry began to pull away and
Dale's tires were wearing out. Then, Labonte slowed down for a wreck ahead and was bumped
and spun by Darrell Waltrip on lap 490. The caution came out for the spin and Terry
pitted. He came back on the track with fresh tires and just a handful of laps left.
The green flag dropped with five laps to go. Labonte flew by Mark Martin, Jeff
Gordon, Tony Stewart and moved in to challenge Dale. The two bumped side-by-side for a
lap, before Labonte passed Dale for the lead. That was when, in front of the crowd of over
140,000 ecstatic fans, Earnhardt sent Labonte spinning, again, this time in turn 2.
"It's tough racing at Bristol with 43
cars on the half mile track, said Earnhardt." If you're in the back of the pack on
the start you have to make up half a lap from the get-go. Tempers usually flair up at
Bristol and that's expected, everyone wants to get to the front and the only way to get
there is make your own hole and go for it.
"What more can you say about Saturday night short
track racing. It's where I started my career and learned how to handle a race car. Bristol
has grown and it's a lot bigger than running at Metrolina or Concord like we did back
then. It gives the race fans plenty of action and has been one of the toughest tickets to
get on the schedule. I can understand why, because I wouldn't give up my seat for anybody
and I'm sure the fans that are there feel the same way."
"We needed a good finish last week," said an excited Richard Childress. "We
lost a little momentum at Watkins Glen, but turned that around on Sunday. It sure was good
to see that car up front where it needs to be. I have to give credit to Dale and the
entire team, we didn't start the weekend off fast, but we continued to work on the car and
threw just about everything we had at it during "happy hour" and still weren't
satisfied. Once we got to racing, Dale found his way around that track and was giving
those guys a lesson on driving. It was great to see. He can do it, he's as good as ever;
we just needed to get the car to turn for him."
Labonte was understandably upset following the race, even after Earnhardt
established that his move on Labonte was not intended.
``The 66 turned me around,'' Labonte said in regard to his first spin. ``He wrecked me and
I got new tires, then I came back out and got wrecked again. It was just wasn't my
When told Earnhardt had said he didn't mean to take Labonte out, the answer was a
terse one. ``He never has any intention of taking anybody out,'' Labonte said.
NASCAR officials reviewed videotape of the collision from several angles and
elected to let the race results stand.
trying to draw the line in regard to winning races, you need to have something more
absolute than what we had," said Kevin Triplett, the sanctioning body's operations
Labonte said he considered complaining to NASCAR officials but elected against it.
"I wouldn't even waste my time to go down to the trailer and talk to them
about it. I've been there before," Labonte said, adding that he would seek justice in
his own fashion.
"He better tighten his belts up," Labonte said.
Jimmy Spencer got through the wreck to finish second behind Earnhardt, with Ricky
Rudd third and Gordon fourth. Stewart, who dominated the first half of the event, was
Spencer gave Earnhardt a little tap in the bumper on the cool down lap after the checkered
flag, either as a sign his of anger or as a symbol of joy.
Earnhardt led a total of 47 laps in the race, and the victory was his ninth at
Bristol Motor Speedway. His win seems more impressive when taken into consideration that
he started 26th and pitted on the backstretch.
To many, Earnhardt's move to get back into the lead on the last lap was just all in
a night's racing at Bristol Motor Speedway. To others, the move was unquestionably foul.
But hell, they don't call him the "Intimidator" for nothing!
Congratulations to Dale Earnhardt and the No. 3
Richard Childress Racing team for winning the race. If our Lowe's team can't win, we want
our RCR teammates to. - Mike Skinner
Same scene, different results at
Bristol Aug. 28
You don't head past the checkers backward and
into Victory Lane at Bristol more than once. Terry Labonte and Dale Earnhardt helped prove
that Saturday. Full Story.
Earnhardt gets an unpopular victory Aug. 29
In recent years, Dale Earnhardt has left some Winston Cup fans
wondering if he has lost his competitive edge. On Saturday night, many of them questioned
whether he had too much. Full Story.
Stewart learns tough lesson from the master Aug. 28
Tony Stewart, the rookie that everyone says isn't
really a rookie, got a couple of lessons about NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing Saturday
under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway. Stewart faced one of the toughest tasks in all
of racing: getting around Dale Earnhardt when the Intimidator smells a win. Full Story.
Driver quotes from Bristol Aug. 29
Drivers in Saturday night's Goody's 500 had several takes on the last
lap wreck between Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte, which allowed Earnhardt to win the
race. Here is a sampling:
''Anybody can win like that. Earnhardt wouldn't have won from the back straight
if he hadn't run over the man. It's that simple.''
``Earnhardt just took Terry right out. That's all I saw. It's a shame. Terry
had the car to beat there, and he should have won the race.''
``I wouldn't even waste my time to go down to the (NASCAR) trailer and talk to
them about it. I've been there before. (Earnhardt) better tighten his belts up.''
``It was just racing. That's what you would have done I guess. If they get
together again, I'd say Earnhardt's got him a neck stretching coming.''
``We'll have to see whether he punches me out or won't talk to me or just waits
to the next race or whatever. We'll just have to wait and see. I can apologize to him all
day long and that's not going to change what happened.''
``There are certain guys you race with will race you clean. The guy that spun
Terry is not one of those guys. But you've got to think of that when you've got to pass
him. You can't give him that opportunity. You can't give him that free shot.''
Earnhardt qualifies 26th in Bristol Aug. 27
Dale Earnhardt qualified a disappointing 26th today in Bud Pole Qualifying for
Saturday night's Goody's 500 in Bristol. Earnhardt will have to pit on the backstretch
pits during the race as only the top 21 qualifiers can fit onto the frontstretch pits.
Dale Jarrett and Jeff Burton will also have to pit on the backstretch after they too
qualified worse than 21st. The race begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.