2000 Race Reports
PopSecret 400


Race: PopSecret 400 (Race No. 31)
Date: October 22, 2000
Track: North Carolina Motor Speedway
Qualified: 27th
Finished: 17th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 393 of 393
Points Pos. Before/After Race: 2/2
Points Earned: 117 (5 bonus)
Money Earned: $46,625


Earnhardt finishes 17th_10/22
Coming into the PopSecret 400 at Rockingham with just four races left on the schedule, Dale Earnhardt needed two things to happen in order to still have a chance at the title. Those were for himself to have a good finish and for Bobby Labonte to have some bad luck.

Bobby had his bad luck when he got trapped a lap down after making an unscheduled pit stop under green, moments before a caution came out (for a fire in Matt Kenseth's pit area). Labonte ended the day 20th, a lap down. However, the No. 3 team was not able to capitalize on Labonte's bad finish. They were barley able to finish any better than Labonte themselves.

Despite running in the top-10 for most of the race, Earnhardt only finished 17th. He was in 10th following his final pit stop, but his car then got tight, which led to the poor finish.

"I don't know if I had a bad set of tires or a mismatched set of tires there at the end, said Earnhardt. "The car just went all to heck. It was pushing so bad I couldn't turn it.

"We were running pretty good there at first, but the track got tighter and our car got tighter. It just didn't do nothing for us. There at the end, I don't know what was wrong with it. I just couldn't go anywhere. At the least (the tires were inconsistent). They change tires, you adjust. They change tires, you adjust. You change, you adjust. They don't want anybody to be consistent. They want to keep changing tires so we don't know what's going to happen the next race."

Dale used a high groove during the race, running right up along the wall in the turns. By lap 45, he was up to 15th from his 27th starting spot. At lap 56, he was 6th. At about that time green-flag pit stops started. Dale led lap 71, before coming in for his green-flag pit stop.

Bobby Labonte now holds a 201-point lead over Earnhardt with three races remaining. Dale would have to gain an average of over 67 points on Labonte in each of the final three races. With Labonte's normally consistent finishes, this is a task that not even Earnhardt can likely accomplish.

"We probably gained a few (points) on him," said Earnhardt, "but nothing like we needed to. The numbers will still work."

Also, Dale lost some ground in the battle for second position in the points. Earnhardt had a 98 point lead over Jeff Burton coming into the race. He now holds second position over Burton by just 50 points.

The series has next weekend off before heading to Phoenix Int'l Raceway on November 5th.

Earnhardt qualifies 27th at The Rock_10/20
Dale posted a decent time during first-round qualifying today at the North Carolina Motor Speedway. His lap of 155.090 mph was good enough to put him 27th out of 48 drivers who attempted to qualify.

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