Earnhardt is second twice in one
By Tim Packman
Dale Earnhardt led Bobby Labonte --
and everyone else but Jerry Nadeau -- at the end of Sunday's NAPA 500.
Dale Earnhardt had one major goal for Monday's
rain delayed NAPA 500 and that was to finish second.
He not only finished second in the race itself, but used it to
propel himself from third to second in the final NASCAR Winston Cup Series points
standings. That was the primary goal for the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Plus Chevrolet driver in
the season finale.
He trailed Jeff Burton by 19 points before the green flag flew at
Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt started eighth, led one time for 12 laps and used those
five bonus points, along with the 175 he earned for the runner-up position, to beat Burton
by 29 points. Burton finished the race in 12th and ends the season third in the standings.
Even though Earnhardt finished second at the track he was victorious
at earlier this season, he was pleased with the outcome.
"It's good to see the kids like (Jerry) Nadeau win," he
said. "The No. 25 car hadn't won in a long time. Tony Furr and the guys are a good
bunch and they deserved it. We tried to run them down but we just didn't have enough. I
was glad to get that late caution and get four fresh tires. I could run short the
The Richard Childress Racing-owned team brought a brand new car for
the seven-time championship driver to power around the 1.54-mile track. Earnhardt had a
feeling after practice and qualifying on Friday he had a strong car. He said it was maybe
even stronger than the one he had in the March race at Atlanta.
With a victory and a second-place finish at the Georgia track, he is
happy with the way the race and the season ended. But he feels he may have left something
on the table late in the season.
"This is the kind of track you want to race at when it's on the
line, he said. "This is one of my favorite tracks. I really feel bad about running so
bad at Rockingham and Homestead. We should have been better at those tracks, and we fell
way back at Charlotte. If we could have capitalized on some of those races, we would have
been better off."
So, with the championship trophy in Bobby Labonte's hands, it's time
for "The Intimidator" to look ahead to next year. He closes the first season of
the century with two trips to Victory Lane, 13 top-5s, 24 top-10s and no DNFs.
With this season in the record books, Earnhardt already has his eye
"We're going to try and capitalize more on our opportunities
next year and not have the bad races we had this year," he said. "I think Kevin
Hamlin (crew chief) and I have got things headed in the right direction for next
Bobby Labonte finished off his Winston Cup championship season with a fifth-place
finish in Monday's NAPA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, leaving him with a 265-point final
margin the season's standings.
Behind him, however, the battle for the second spot came down to Dale Earnhardt's
second-place finish behind race-winner Jerry Nadeau. With Jeff Burton able to manage only
a 12th-place finish, Earnhardt was able to pass him for the runner-up spot in points.
"To come out second in points is really pretty neat," said Earnhardt, who
came in 19 points behind Burton but finished 29 ahead. "I wish we could have kicked
it up one more notch."
Earnhardt, who has seven Winston Cup titles, also finished second in points in 1989 and
"I really feel bad about running so bad at Rockingham and Homestead," said
Earnhardt, who finished outside the top 10 in five of the season's last nine races.
"We should have been better at those tracks. If we could have capitalized on some of
those races, we would have been better off."
Burton said he had to make two extra stops during the race because of problems on pit
road, and that did him in. "That killed us," he said. "You can't spot the
field that much time."
Burton's third-place points finish was still the best of his Winston Cup career.
Earnhardt takes second in race
& in points_11/20
Earnhardt came into Monday's rain-delayed Napa 500 third in points.
While no one likes being second, third hurts even more when there's a difference of more
than $300,000 between the two positions as part of the final points payoff. Just 19 points
separated Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt - with Dale Jarrett in tow - when the green flag
Earnhardt, starting eighth, was racy and took the race lead on lap 80. Burton started 37,
worked his way to the top ten, and then fell two laps down with handling and heating
problems. Earnhardt's finish and Burton salvaging 12th was just enough to put the
seven-time champion in the runner-up spot in the points.
When the final caution came out, there were just nine cars on the lead lap. They all came
to pit road for one last time. Ward Burton led the race off pit road, with Jerry Nadeau
second, Rusty Wallace third and Dave Blaney fourth. All four of those cars took only two
tires. Mike Skinner was fifth with four fresh tires while Earnhardt was eighth.
The green flew with seven laps to go.
Nadeau and Earnhardt laid back behind Burton as the cars
came toward the line, then took off to gain momentum at the green. Nadeau broke to the
inside just at the start-finish line and roared past Burton as they raced into Turn 1.
Nadeau pulled clear as Earnhardt, who began the lap in
eighth, popped into second behind him. Gordon, Labonte and Skinner joined the fray for
third as Earnhardt saw he couldn't capture the newcomer, but could snatch 2nd in the
points. (from TR and SFX)
Rain postpones Napa 500_11/19
Heavy rain at Atlanta Motor Speedway has
delayed the running of the season-ending NAPA 500. The race is rescheduled for 10:15 a.m.
ET Monday, November 20.
Earnhardt takes 8th in qualifying_11/17
Dale Earnhardt qualified 8th today at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The
NAPA 500 is Sunday, at 1 p.m. ET.
Farewell to an old rival_11/16
Waltrip: 84 wins, 3 NASCAR Winston Cup Championships, 59 poles, 2 times Most Popular
Driver, 1 last race. Atlanta Motor Speedway, November 19, 2000.
The Intimidator's tribute
Interview with Darrell Waltrip
1998 - Old
road warriors have a tough time quitting
Waltrip records another strong finish