Earnhardt opts for 4 new tires,
gains ground on Labonte_9/9
By Jim Utter
Dale Earnhardt wasn't about to make the same mistake twice.
Having tried and failed an attempt to use a two-tire pit stop
to win the May race at Richmond International Speedway, the decision came quick and easy
when a caution came out on Lap 381 of Saturday night's Chevrolet 400.
was the only driver running in the top five at the time the caution came out to elect to
head to pit road. When he did, his team quickly put four new tires on his No. 3 Chevrolet.
On the restart on Lap 386 of the 400-lap race, Earnhardt
started sixth and he wasted no time in working his way toward the front.
In the end, Earnhardt came up just short in trying to hunt
down race-winner Jeff Gordon. But he did make a significant gain in the series points race
and now sits 158 points behind leader Bobby Labonte with nine of 34 races remaining on the
"We finished ahead of everybody we were racing for the
points. (Jeff) Burton was wearing me, but we got by him and beat him, so it was a good day
for us," Earnhardt said. "Bobby (Labonte) and (Dale) Jarrett had a little bit of
problem, so we gained a few. We got to keep gaining."
Earnhardt said it was crew chief Kevin Hamlin and team owner
Richard Childress' decision to make the pit stop.
"We came up a little short, but it was a good call by
the guys. We thought we could run them down," he said. "I raced (Steve) Park a
little bit too long, but he was trying to hold position and he did a good job staying
where he did in the top five.
"I thought we could get (Gordon). If it had been another
lap, maybe, but then again maybe not."
With his eyes set on a possible eighth Winston Cup
championship, Earnhardt said his team's simple objective is to gain ground every week.
"That's what we did today," he said. "We're a
contender and we mathematically can win it, so we'll be dogging it and doing all we
But Earnhardt - a vocal critic this weekend of NASCAR's
decision to place a 1-inch restrictor plate on Winston Cup cars next weekend at New
Hampshire International Speedway - did not miss an opportunity to take another dig at
NASCAR on the subject.
"New Hampshire will be a different twist next week with
restrictor plates and short-track racing, and I look for people like Mark Martin and Dale
(Earnhardt) Jr. who used to run (Grand National) cars to probably run real good with that
small (restrictor) plate," he said.
"I just got to get my car to run good and run free.
Heck, I may even take my Daytona car up there, who knows?" -- By Jim
into second in point chase
Park does his
best "Intimidator" impression
Earnhardt will start 22nd in Richmond_9/8
Friday evening at Richmond Int'l Raceway, Dale Earnhardt qualified
22nd, with a lap of 124.355 mph. Jeff Burton won the pole.
Chevy Monte Carlo
400 Earnhardt notes
Chevy Monte Carlo 400 schedule_9/7
Friday, Sept. 8
12:30-1:55 p.m. - Winston Cup Practice
3-4:30 p.m. - Winston Cup Practice
5:30 p.m. - Winston Cup Bud Pole Qualifying Pos. 1-25 / 2 Laps
Saturday, Sept. 9
11:30-12:30 p.m. - Winston Cup Practice
1:15 p.m. - Winston Cup Pos. 26-36 / 2 Laps
Followed by - Winston Cup Practice until 2:20 p.m.
7:40 p.m. - Start of the Winston Cup CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO 400