Earnhardt's postrace news conference
Talladega with Winston 500 win!
The decade began with Dale Earnhardt sweeping both Winston Cup
races at Talladega in 1990. It ends the same way, with the "Intimidator" holding
off Dale Jarrett and a pack of others making a furious charge over the final laps on
Sunday to win the 1999 Winston 500.
Earnhardt last took the lead going down the backstretch on Lap 185 in the 188-lap event,
sweeping past Jarrett on the outside with drafting help from Richard Childress Racing
teammate Mike Skinner and Bobby Labonte.
"The car was good, but I didn't think it was a car
that would run up front,'' said Earnhardt, who has now won nine Winston Cup races at
Talladega - seven in events using carburetor restrictor plates.
"I kept playing chess with them all day,'' Earnhardt said. "As we went,
Skinner and I got on the outside and he helped me go to the front. I tried to keep them
two by two and pulled in front of whoever was coming. I would have never thought we would
have won this race."
Earnhardt started 27th, the furthest back that any winner
at Talladega has ever started. He moved quickly to the front in the opening laps. By lap 3
he was in 12th, and by lap 5, he was in fifth.
A key moment came on lap 140 when Earnhardt drove into the pits with a group of leaders
for a regularly scheduled stop. Just as they reached pit road, Terry Labonte's car began
leaking and smoking from a punctured oil reservoir, bringing out the last of three caution
All the drivers but
Earnhardt, Bobby Labonte and Ward Burton kept right on going through the pits and back
onto the track. But those three stopped and all three wound up finishing in the top seven.
"I just played my cards right,'' the 48-year-old Earnhardt said. "I felt the
guys who stayed out would slow down and not race to the flagstand, and I felt we could get
tires, get to the start-finish line before they came around and get track position.
"I knew we didn't have to beat them around, just to the start-finish line to take the
The strategy worked, with Earnhardt taking the green flag on lap 146 in third, moving into
the lead for the first time on lap 147 and staying in contention to the end.
Earnhardt led 18 laps en route to the win, his third victory of the season - the two here
and a controversial victory in August at Bristol.
battled back over the final three laps and got to Earnhardt's rear bumper, but couldn't
catch him on the final lap and settled for second place.
"I was trying to block all of them but my car is not
that wide," Jarrett said. ``You hate to lose but sometimes you get beat by the best
at this kind of racing."
It was a typical Talladega thrill-fest, with huge packs of
cars running inches apart three- and four-wide at times. The only thing missing was The
Big Wreck. There were only three cautions and the most serious crash was a five-car pileup
in Turn 1 that, by Talladega standards, was fairly tame.
Ricky Rudd, using a motor built by Robert Yates Racing,
came up through the lead draft over the final laps to take third, with Ward Burton fourth
and Kenny Wallace fifth.
Jeff Gordon led more laps than anyone on Sunday but wasn't
able to push his Chevrolet into the battle for the victory at the end, bringing his lucky
winning streak to a close at two races.
1999 Season Graph after Talladega: Small Size - Large
Is the man is black really back?
Childress' drivers run well at biggest tracks
Talladega racing is tough and dangerous
RCR cars re-qualify 26th & 27th Oct. 16
Teammates Mike Skinner and Dale Earnhardt made the best of
having to requalify in the second round of time trials for the Winston 500.
Skinner led the way Saturday, turning a lap of 196.455 mph to
earn the 26th starting position in the 500-mile race. Earnhardt was next at 195.385, and
will start 27th in Sunday's 43-car field.
Both drivers were forced into the second round by engine
problems during Friday's qualifying. The engine in Skinner's Richard Childress Racing
Chevrolet blew up before he could post a qualifying lap, while Earnhardt's failed near the
end of a lap that left him 38th overall.
``The guys in our engine department really lean on it for
qualifying. You've got to, and I support them 100 percent,'' Earnhardt said. ``It just
cost us Friday. But we know what happened to both of them.''
Earnhardt, who leads all drivers with eight victories at
Talladega Superspeedway, believes he can win.
``I think we could win from last place with this race car,''
he said. ``We'll just use our heads and try to stay out of trouble. This is the same car I
won with here last time (in April), and it's the same car we had in Daytona (where
finished second in both February and July).''
Skinner said the relative starting positions will help both
``We're going to be okay,'' he said. ``It's going to be to
both of our benefits to work together to come up through the pack. We've both go good race
The top 25 drivers in the opening round of qualifying lock in
starting positions. The rest have the option of trying again in round two or standing on
their first-day laps.
Earnhardt's car certainly has the potency to propel the
"Man in Black" to Victory Lane -- it is the same Monte Carlo he won with here in
April, then finished second with at Daytona in July. Earnhardt himself is no slouch at
Talladega either. He has the leads all active drivers with three Bud Poles, nine
victories, 20 top-5s and 24 top-10s in 41 career races. Couple that with the fact that two
of the past five Talladega races have been won from outside the top-15 starting positions,
and Earnhardt could be a contender come Sunday.
Earnhardt has engine problems
in first-round Oct. 15
Both RCR teams suffered on Friday in first-round qualifying with engine problems. Mike
Skinner blew his engine during his warm-up lap and didn't even record a time. Earnhardt
was only able to complete one of his allowed two laps of qualifying before he felt a
problem in his engine and shut it off. Earnhardt qualified 39th out of 47 cars in
first-round. Skinner qualified 47th.
"We're leaning on these motors too hard," Earnhardt said after qualifying.
"They cut the oil pressure back trying to get all they could and they're just going
too far. ... I'd rather have a safe, solid two laps other than blowing it up."
Richard Childress acknowledged that the engine shop was trying to push for increased speed
for Friday's qualifying.
"These guys in our engine department really lean on it for qualifying, you've got to
and I support them 100 percent," Childress said. "They were leaning on it real
hard, and it cost us today. We know what happened to of them. If you're going to be up
front and be in the top-10, you've got to push the envelope and we pushed it a little too
far with both cars today."
Earnhardt a master of the big track Oct. 16
One of the things you hear before every race at
Talladega or Daytona is that Dale Earnhardt can ``see the air'' and therefore uses the draft better
than anybody else in the sport.
Earnhardt a master of the big track Oct. 16
Dale Earnhardt is so masterful in traffic on the
big tracks in Talladega and Daytona that some people believe he can see the air in the
draft. Full Story.
Earnhardt hopes to go three for Talladega Oct. 14
It wouldn't be surprising if Dale Earnhardt arrives in Talladega
before any of his NASCAR Winston Cup Series driving brethren. He's won every other race
there this year, it seems. Full
Correction: In today's newsletter, it was stated that Dale
has 10 wins at Talladega. He actually has twelve: 8 Winston Cup wins, 3
IROC wins, and a Busch win.
Winston Cup Talladega weekend schedule Oct. 13
In the three previous restrictor plate races this season, Dale
Earnhardt has finished second, first and second. He won at Talladega in April, and should
be a heavy contender this weekend.
"The last trip here was a good one for us," Earnhardt said on Thursday.
"We had the IROC on Saturday when Rusty (Wallace) and I went for it on the last lap.
I really didn't think I had a chance to get to Rusty, then Mark (Martin) started to make
his move which left the door open for me to go high and get past Rusty for the win."
"We're looking forward to going back to Talladega," said Kevin Hamlin,
crew chief of the No. 3 Monte Carlo. "That was a big turning point for this team. We
jumped six positions in the points that day. It was the first time I had won a Winston Cup
race as a crew chief and I have to tell you it was a memorable experience."
11:30 am - 1:30 pm Central Practice
3:00 pm Bud Pole Qualifying (positions 1-25) 2 laps
8:15 am - 9:30 am Practice
10:45 am Qualifying (positions 26-36) 2 laps
Approximently 3:00 pm Final Practice (1 hour)
11:30 am Drivers Introduction
12:00 pm WINSTON 500 RACE(188 Laps/500 Miles)