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Blk3GM's Winston Cup News

redarrow.gif (62 bytes)"You're The MAN! You're The MAN!" Earnhardt sweeps Talladega
April 26, 1999 by Gary Harris
spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes)We returned late last night from a fantastic weekend at Talladega.
spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes)With two laps to go in the Die-Hard 500 the words over the in-car radio from car owner, Richard Childress, crew chief, Kevin Hamlin, and spotters for the #3 GM Goodwrench car, were "You're the MAN!, You're the MAN!" and 200,000 fans echoed that sentiment, standing and cheering as Earnhardt crossed the finish line. Dale Earnhardt was definitely the man at Talladega on Sunday. In fact, he was the man on Saturday also, winning his second IROC race of the season.

spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes)In the words of a frustrated Rusty Wallace after the conclusion of the IROC race, "There was nothing I could do. He (Earnhardt) has a patent on that move." Earnhardt only led one lap of the IROC race but it was the most important lap -- the final one.  With a very similar move on the final lap of the first IROC race of 1999 at Daytona when Earnhardt set up Mark Martin for the last lap pass to win, Earnhardt did it again only this time to Rusty Wallace. With less than 200 yards to the finish line Earnhardt went low. Rusty blocked him. Then Earnhardt went high and held it for the win.  It was the sling-shot move which Earnhardt has made famous.
spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes)At the conclusion of the race one reporter asked Earnhardt, "Are you ready to retire?" Earnhardt answered the question with a question, "Why did I win the race today?"
spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes)In the IROC series all cars are created equal. No pit crew advantage, and no in-car communication except for one-way communication from IROC officials. The International Race of Champions (IROC) is designed to bring the best of the best from several racing series together in equal cars to determine who is the best driver. Earnhardt proved in Saturday's second IROC race of the 1999 season that he's the best. Twice this year Earnhardt has mastered the IROC race and won.  Two for two so far and only two more to go for the '99 season.

spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes)Following the IROC race on Saturday and prior to the running of the Busch race was Winston Cup Happy Hour, the final practice for Sunday's Die-Hard 500.  Earnhardt took his car out and ran it for only about 15 to 20 minutes of the one hour practice session. As he exited turn four on his final lap of practice heading for pit road, Earnhardt said, "Fix my seat and headrest. I feel like I am falling out of the seat." Then he said, "Don't do anything else to the car except get it race ready. The car is fine."
spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes)At the drop of the green flag to begin the Die-Hard 500, Earnhardt was 17th, his starting position. By laps 11 Earnhardt took the lead and led for five laps, giving him the all time record for laps led at Talladega."  Earnhardt radioed Childress and said, "Tell Skinner to get up here and I'll let him lead for a little while to get his bonus points for leading a lap."
spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes)Skinner moved into position and took the lead on lap 16 and led until lap 20. Earnhardt resumed his lead on lap 21 and was clearly the dominant car all day leading the most laps, 70 of 188. There were 28 lead changes among fourteen drivers. Earnhardt led the race seven times throughout the day. On lap 175 he took the lead for the final time and never looked back winning his 72nd career victory at the Talladega Super Speedway. Earnhardt now holds the record for the most wins at Talladega (8) and the most laps led at Talladega.
spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes)Dale Jarret, Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five finishing positions. Earnhardt's win moved him up to 9th in the Winston Cup points standing.
spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes)The only thing that could have made this weekend any more perfect than it was, would have been if Dale Earnhardt Jr. would have won the Busch race on Saturday.  However, with Dale Jr.'s sixth place finish he took the lead in the Busch Series points standing.
spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes)Earnhardt has a brand new car for the upcoming race in California and is expecting to be a factor in the outcome of California 500 on May 2nd.
spacerwhite.gif (835 bytes) We will be adding a Talladega race section with more highlight and photos during the next few weeks.  I would do it sooner but am leaving today for a business trip and won't return until next week.

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