2000 Race Reports
ennzoil 400


Race: Pennzoil 400 (Race No. 33)
Date: November 12, 2000
Track: Homestead-Miami Speedway
Qualified: 37th
Finished: 20th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 264 of 267
Points Pos. Before/After Race: 2/3
Points Earned: 103 (0 bonus)
Money Earned: $60,700


Earnhardt finishes 20th, Labonte claims title_11/12
By finishing fourth on Sunday in the Pennzoil 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Bobby Labonte captured the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup championship. And Dale Earnhardt was quick to offer "congratulations to Bobby. He ran great all year."

"Jimmy Makar (Labonte's crew chief) and the guys deserve it," added Earnhardt. "They put in some long hours and built the race team and won a lot of races. Now they've won the championship.

"Everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing has got to be excited. They won the championship and the 20 car (Tony Stewart) won the race today -- that's a pretty good day for the Gibbs organization. It was a pretty good year for everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing.

"We just couldn't ever come up with enough to do anything with 'em. We fell short at several race tracks. This was just a tough day for us."

Earnhardt struggled throughout the entire race and ended up 20th, three laps back of Stewart. The highest Earnhardt ran all day was 17th.

"We shoved the nose in the center all day long," noted Earnhardt. "We never could get the car to turn down in the center. We didn't race worth a darn.

"I used everything I could to try to keep him (Stewart) behind me (as Stewart tried to lap Earnhardt on laps 118-120). I just used everything I had. But we just didn't have the car today.

"Now I've got to race this guy over here now (Jeff Burton) for second. We won Atlanta in the spring. Hopefully, we can do it again. Another win would sure be a good day to end the year. Second isn't what I wanted, but if we can get it it would be better than what we have been doing the last several years."

Going into the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Nov. 19, Earnhardt trails Burton by 19 points in the race for the No. 2 position.

Ricky Rudd was quite upset with Dale Earnhardt after he and Earnhardt got together on a restart with 49 laps to go Sunday in the Pennzoil 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Rudd was leading at the time.

"I don't know what in the world Earnhardt was doing," said Rudd, who ended up sixth. "He was 100 laps down or something, I don't know what he was doing. If I'm a lap down, I give the guys the courtesy to go race and he was a factor and changed the outcome of my race anyway. When we restarted, Earnhardt drove us out to the third lane and closed the fenders in and took all the downforce away. The car just plowed after that and our race was over."

When asked about the incident, Earnhardt said, "On the restart I went down there (into turn one) and had hot tires on and they just didn't turn good. They had stuff on 'em. NASCAR blew all that rubber and stuff down the track. It wouldn't turn. I got up into him (Rudd). I tried to keep it off of him all I could. We were just lucky we both didn't wreck."

BY THE NUMBERS: 19 -- The number of points by which Dale Earnhardt trails Jeff Burton in the race for second place in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings going into the season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Nov. 19.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Congratulations to Bobby (Labonte). He ran great all year long. Jimmy Makar (Labonte's crew chief) and the guys deserve it. They put in some long hours and built the race team and won a lot of races. Now they've won the (Winston Cup) championship." -- Dale Earnhardt

NUTS AND BOLTS Crew chief Kevin Hamlin feels the "only way to take the sting out of how poorly we ran today (Sunday in the Pennzoil 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway) is win Atlanta. We won the spring race. Now we need to get us another one down there. We were just horrible today." Dale Earnhardt finished 20th, three laps back of winner Tony Stewart. "We struggled from the time we unloaded," added Hamlin. "We probably should have brought another car."

Earnhardt 36th fastest in Homestead_11/10
Earnhardt came in 36th fastest during first-round qualifying at the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway. Steve Park won the pole, while Dale Jr. qualified 12th. Darrell Waltrip made it into the field on day one, qualifying 24th in his second-to-last Winston Cup race before his retirement.

Top 5 equals title on Sunday - Even if Earnhardt wins Sunday and the Nov. 19 finale at Atlanta -- and takes five-point bonuses for leading a lap and leading the most laps -- Labonte can clinch by finishing 28th or better in both events.

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