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1999 Southern 500

Race: Southern 500 (Race No. 24)
Date: September 5, 1999
Track: Darlington Raceway
Qualified: 25th
Finished: 22nd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 268 of 270
Points Pos. Before/After Race: 7/7
Points Earned: 97
Money Earned: $42,470


Earnhardt registers a top-25 finish in Southern 500
09_05go.gif (4762 bytes)Dale Earnhardt's latest push to victory at Bristol did nothing to affect his popularity with NASCAR fans at the Southern 500.

The Intimidator spun out Terry Labonte on the final lap at the Goody's 500 last week to steal the victory. But the move brought a shower of boos from the Bristol crowd and cries from drivers who would rather not race Earnhardt-style.

On Sunday, the Darlington Raceway fans were ready to yell for or at Earnhardt. They booed his crew chief Kevin Hamlin as he won an award for last week's win. They screamed as Earnhardt climbed over the track wall. And they let "Old Ironhead" -- waving and smiling the whole way -- have it as he strolled across the stage during driver introductions.

But for every person in the stands pointing "thumbs down" at Earnhardt, an infield motor home or tent flew his No. 3 flag or wore a cap or T-shirt with his sinister grin.

The applause was just as loud for Labonte, who graciously waved to the grandstand.

Before introductions, Labonte and Earnhardt talked briefly like the friends they have always been, the incident, while probably not forgotten, at least forgiven.

Labonte said so Friday. He said he had put the spin out behind him and was not looking for revenge.

The two Chevrolets shared a garage this week and ran door-to-door for a while at Saturday's final practice.

The fans seemed more fired up than the drivers. One walking through the garage spotted one of Labonte's crew members and reminded him of Earnhardt's move, saying, "You owe him one." Early in the race, Labonte cruised past Earnhardt for 23rd place without contact, prompting a roar from fans.

When rain stopped the race on lap 244, Earnhardt's black Monte Carlo stopped right behind Labonte's multi-colored machine. Grandstand fans hollered for a face-off and Earnhardt play-acted a confrontation as Labonte smiled.

Earnhardt also said last week's incident was over. His mind was on a Darlington win, which would have been his record-tying 10th at NASCAR's oldest superspeedway.

"We're just having fun," Earnhardt said.

By mid-race, though, Earnhardt had fallen off the pace, losing a lap after missing the pit entrance. Tire problems also cost him some positioning. He finished 22nd, two laps down.

Labonte, who started 37th, worked his way as high as 11th and ended 17th.

Hurricane Dale still churns the atmosphere
This week, a Baptist preacher in North Carolina resisted temptation, but most every place else you went somebody was talking about the end of last Saturday night's race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Full story

Earnhardt qualifies 25th at Darlington

Earnhardt just barely got a top-25 today in qualifying. The "Intimidator" was in threat of being bumped back to 26th by the last car to qualify, Dale Jarrett. But Jarrett spun before he got a fast lap in, assuring Earnhardt the 25th starting position. Starting 25th, Earnhardt will be given a pit stall on the frontstrech.

Pepsi Southern 500
  Sept. 2
Is he back or isn't he? It looked like he sure was at Michigan where it was nothing but vintage Intimidator until his car couldn't perform and he slipped back to a fifth-place finish. Then came that gnarly half-mile they call Bristol Motor Speedway, a place where you have to knock a hole in the pack and shove your way through. He did just that -- some called it a cheap shot -- to turn Terry Labonte around and take the checkered flag. With Darlington up next, we think he is going to hang tough no matter what the critics say. But we're thinking the Intimidator is going to be on his best behavior in the Pepsi Southern 500 so we are not looking for him to go for broke again.


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