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Earnhardt Racing News and Rumors
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Dale Earnhardt Jr

Rising Son: Earnhardt Jr. Lets Own Personality Shine Through...HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. emerges from his disabled car in the final race of the Busch Grand National season, scrambles onto its roof to salute the fans, slaps hands with crew members - then swan-dives into the crew's arms.

Call it a mosh pit stop.

Not exactly the type of behavior ever shown by his father, The Intimidator himself.

But that's been part of the fun in Dale Jr.'s coming-out season, one in which the Busch title made the Earnhardts NASCAR's first three-generation family of champions.

``A lot of the time, guys are really surprised at how different we are personality-wise. It's cool that it's all finally coming out,'' the family's newest champion said.

``All these years, I've raced under his wing. We've never really had too much TV coverage on our races, never had too many quotes in the paper. ... This year I've been able to tell people things about me. It's like meeting somebody new.''

Dale Jr.'s resemblance to the seven-time Winston Cup champion is clear. His hard stare behind the wheel - eyes straight ahead, lips pursed into a tight line - needs only Dad's bushy mustache to be a carbon copy.

The son drives hard, too. Although he hasn't developed Dad's reputation for trading paint, the 24-year-old Dale Jr. wastes no time taking his No. 3 Chevrolet to the front of the pack.

Fans were quick to dub him Intimidator Jr. That was fine, but it doesn't really fit his persona off the track.

Both father and son are soft-spoken, their voices hard to hear if somebody's gunning an engine nearby. But whereas the elder Earnhardt's shyness only added to his mystique, Dale Jr. is less afraid to open up to others.

``He's been built into this image - The Intimidator, the Man in Black. It's been built up over the past several years to sell some merchandise and promote an image,'' Dale Jr. said of his father. ``I hope my personality is what's going to sell me.''

Dale Jr. is easygoing, with a self-deprecating wit that makes friends quickly. He's comfortable enough in public even to turn some of that humor on his dad.

After wrecking his car during practice for the season-ending Jiffy Lube Miami 300, he was asked what advice Dale Sr. had given him about the Homestead track.

``Obviously, he didn't give me enough since I'm sitting here with no more race car,'' Dale Jr. said with a smirk.

Not to worry. With barely two hours' preparation, Dale Jr. took his backup car out cold and qualified 15th. On race day, he took the lead 56 laps into the race and was in position for his eighth win of the season before his engine blew on lap 89.

Race fans had heard Dale Earnhardt's youngest son was special, but no one could be sure how much talent he had. He honed his skills running street stocks at Concord (N.C.) Speedway for two years before moving up to NASCAR's Late Model Stock division.

Even crew chief Tony Eury was surprised when the decision was made to put Dale Jr. in the Earnhardt-owned Busch car formerly driven by Steve Park.

``His daddy came to me in the middle of last year and said, `You think you can make something out of Dale Jr.?''' Eury recalled. ``I said, `I don't know. I'll do the best I can do.'

``Everybody looked at us like we were crazy. They said there ain't no way we could take that kid and win a championship. He learned faster than anybody I've ever worked with.''

Seven wins and 16 top-five finishes later, the elder Earnhardt doesn't hide his pride.

``They've worked hard and really helped Dale show himself,'' Dale Sr. said. ``It's a great team effort, but I'm surely proud of that boy of mine.''

So much, in fact, that Dale Earnhardt Inc. bought the rights to the No. 8 Winston Cup car and will have Dale Jr. run a limited schedule next year before he joins full time in 2000. Eury and the rest of the crew will move up, too.

No. 8, by the way, is what granddaddy Ralph Earnhardt drove to the 1956 championship in the Sportsman division, Busch's predecessor.

It's a big leap, even for somebody with such prominent racing genes. Kyle Petty, for example, is a third-generation driver who hasn't come close to the success of his father or grandfather. Richard Petty is NASCAR's all-time leader with 200 wins and seven championships; Lee Petty won three titles in the 1950s.

``I'm curious as to how I'm going to be accepted in the Cup series and how I'll do in the Cup series,'' Dale Jr. acknowledged. ``Every time I make that comment, everybody goes, `It'll be all right.' But what if it ain't all right? What if it don't happen? You worry about that.''

Dale Jr. gets his first taste this weekend, driving in NASCAR's Winston Cup exhibition in Japan. Dale Sr. is entered, too, marking the first time they will run the same race.

Would Dale Jr. dare rub fenders with Dad? His eyes give off a mischievous glint as he slips into Intimidator Jr. mode.

``The opportunity's there,'' he said.(11-20-98)(By JEFF SHAIN, AP Sports Writer - WRAL5 Online)

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In Daddy's Eyes......When Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts his #3 AC Delco Chevy at the Jiffy Lube Miami 300, on Sunday, November the 15th, he will officially become the Busch Grand National Champion for 1998. In only his first full season, the 24-year-old third-generation stock car driver has begun to carve his own place in history. The man-in-black's boy-in-blue has impressed everyone by winning seven races, not only on tracks that he has been on before but also on venues he has never raced a lap on. He started out the season by flipping end-over-end and many people felt that the success he had the year before may have been a fluke, but as the races went on, he matured a little more each week.

Yes, this young man from North Carolina has impressed many, many people but it is obvious to me that there is one and only one person that he really cares about impressing -- his father. Dale Earnhardt was criticized early in his career because he was aloof, serious and aggressive, but what many people don't know is that he was the one that found his father's lifeless body under a car he had been working on for Dale. I can't even imagine how that must have affected him because Dale idolized his father Ralph more than anyone else in the world. Just as Dale had such a reverence for his father, it is touching to see that same awe in Dale Jr.(11-16-98)(Susan Coyle - Woman Motorist)

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Dale Earnhardt Jr to drive his grandfather's, Ralph Earnhardt, #8...Dale Earnhardt, Inc. acquired the rights to the number 8 from the Stavolo Brothers. Dale Earnhardt Jr will drive the #8, Budweiser sponsored, Monte Carlo in a limited five-race Winston Cup Schedule next year. Dale Jr's grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, drove the #8 to the 1956 NASCAR Sportsman Division Championship. Dale Earnhardt Jr will go to Winston Cup full time in the year 2000.(11-15-98)

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Earnhardt Sponsor: Dale Earnhardt Jr and The Outlaw... Dale Earnhardt Inc. has signed "The Outlaw," Pennzoil's engine additive, as an associate sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Winston Cup car for the next four years. "Man, I can't imagine why a product named 'The Outlaw.' whose motto is 'additives with an attitude' would ever pick me," joked Dale Jr. "They don't think me and my Dad have an attitude or anything do they? "This is a cool deal. I haven't even run my first Winston Cup race yet and my car is already branded as 'The Outlaw.' But, that's OK. I guess outlaws are used to people chasing them all the time just like I hope it will be on the racetrack in the coming years when everyone is chasing us."

Earnhardt Jr.'s car will feature the black, yellow and orange "Outlaw" logo on its rear quarter panels when he runs five Winston Cup races in 1999 and a full schedule the following season. The four-year agreement calls for Earnhardt Jr. to make personal appearances on behalf of the product as well as play a role in the print and electronic advertising of the products.

The deal also strengthens the bond between Pennzoil and DEI, which fields the No. 1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo driven by Steve Park. Tom Floyd, Pennzoil's chief marketing officer, said jumping on the Earnhardt Jr. bandwagon was an easy decision.

"Dale Jr. is probably the biggest name to come into this sport," said Floyd. "For Pennzoil to pair him with Steve Park, who we feel will one day be in victory lane, gives us two of the youngest guns in NASCAR, and will pay dividends in the future. As they make their presence felt on the race track, we will make both of these drivers a presence in advertising and in the media. Fans and Pennzoil customers better get used to seeing Steve and Dale Jr. because they are here for a long time."

Park said joining with Dale Jr. as teammates at DEI as well as sharing Pennzoil joins the two teams together. (Pennzoil, Park and DEI are finishing the first year of a three-year agreement.)

"Dale Jr. and I will not only be teammates at DEI but share Pennzoil sponsorship as well which is a good deal for us and I hope makes the folks at Pennzoil and 'The Outlaw' happy," said Park. "I hope this is a relationship that continues for a very long time."

Budweiser signed on in September as primary sponsor for Earnhardt Jr.'s car through 2004.(10-30-98)(SpeedNet Staff Writer)

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Earnhardt Jr becoming major enterprise...The sports phenomenon known as Dale Earnhardt Jr. has grown so large so swiftly that even Don Hawk, the man who manages Dale Sr.'s affairs as well, is suddenly struggling to keep Dale Jr.'s career -- even his life -- under some control.

''We'd be lying if we said this isn't a whole lot more than what we expected at this stage. We knew Dale Jr. was good. But we didn't know he was this good,'' Hawk said.

''Seven wins now, he didn't back into any of them. In fact, he really left a couple on the table. South Boston, Nazareth.''

In a little over a year, the son of the stock-car racing legend has exploded from an obscure footnote into a major-league business in his own right. The business Dale Earnhardt Inc. has become a NASCAR giant over the past few years, under Hawk. Now the business subsidiary DE2 is become quite large as well.

With all this, and seven Busch tour wins, and the prospect of the Busch tour championship at hand, not to mention a new six-year sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch, one of the sports' world's most important marketers, and a major deal with Coca-Cola, one of the world's most important marketers period, it's easy to ask the questions, 'Is this kid getting too much too soon?' and 'Is DE1 going to push Junior too hard too fast?'

Hawk says he and Sr. are both acutely aware of the potential problems. And the basic issue here is, is this kid really as good on the track as he appears to be. The Busch tour is not exactly jammed with Winston Cup caliber competition.

So, perhaps Motegi will provide us all with a clue. Motegi? Pairing the two Earnhardts on a Charlotte-type high-banked track somewhere north of Tokyo sounds like a great marketing gimmick -- for NASCAR, certainly, whose entire Japanese venture has been clouded with more than a little suspicion and skepticism. But is a 23-year-old kid from North Carolina really ready for something like this? It does sound a bit strange, and more than a bit forced upon him by those who stand to make a bunch of money over a long period of time if Junior does pan out.

There are some signs that Junior would just like to be himself, and not this sudden sports megastar, a stock-car version of the classic 14-year-old gymnast or tennis problem child. The incredible media frenzy building around him has been perhaps even more daunting than the competition he faces on the track.

''Dale Jr. has confided in me that, not that he doesn't like it, but that he didn't realize that this much attention would come this fast,'' Hawk said. ''Hey, you've got all these wins, all these poles, you're leading in money, you're leading in laps led, they've got to talk to you.

''He told me, 'Well, I want to talk to 'em, but I just didn't know there were this many people who wanted to talk to me.'

''I think it's a little overwhelming. It hasn't stressed him, but he simply didn't believe that many people really cared about Dale Earnhardt Jr. Sports Illustrated is flirting with doing a story on him. And there are some other publications that are looking, waiting to see how this Busch championship unfolds.''

The last race of the season is on Nov. 15 at Homestead, Fla.

Then again Junior, who has had less than a year to try to digest all that is going on around him, also shows signs of having fun with his new celebrity status.

Right now, Hawk says he and Senior are trying to put the brakes on this train, to ensure it doesn't get out of control.

''We've already tried to slow the pace down,'' Hawk said.

''We had numerous offers to take Junior Winston Cup next year, and we chose not to. He's only driving five Cup races next year. He's only had one full year of Busch, and he needs seat time. So whether he wins the championship or not, we want to give him more seat time, to get more familiar with these race tracks.

''The emotions, the adrenaline, the sponsors, all that says, 'Go! Go! Go!' The sponsors are willing to pay, and they're saying they're willing to throw away the first season as a learning curve. But we didn't want to go there.

''We've seen too many guys come out of one championship series in to this and fall flat on their face. We don't want to do that. We want to be ready, we want the equipment to be ready. We're going to test next year.

''So I think we're already starting to hold back a little.

''There could have been that error. . . . there was the want to do that. But Teresa, Dale and I all talked with Dale Jr., and he's content to sit and wait another year.''

The relationship between Sr. and Jr. is perhaps more private than might be suspected. Sr. doesn't feel that comfortable talking much about Jr. And Jr. is still trying to figure out just where he fits into this huge NASCAR jigsaw puzzle, this billion-dollar monster.

A baggy Intimidator ''Jr. is riding a wave, but he's independent,'' Hawk said. ''Dale Sr. wears Wrangler boot-cut jeans; Dale Jr. wears more of a baggy fit. Dale Sr. will wear a Chase shirt with button-down collar; Dale Jr. will wear a Chase shirt that's loose, long-sleeve, baggy fit.

''Dale Sr. wears these standard Gargoyle sunglasses that he's worn for years. Dale Jr. is having his own design, because he wants some funk.

''Dale Jr. wants to be different. He doesn't want to look just like his dad. That's OK, if that's what he wants. And I think the sport right now could a new image, a new look.

''We're not downgrading anything that's out there, but Jr. won't be afraid to go out there and race with a Gordon or a Burton or a Labonte or a Wallace . . . or his dad. Look at some of these Busch races he's been in this year; they've had eight to 12 Winston Cup drivers in 'em, and Jr. has been right up there dicing with 'em.''

So has Jr. gotten beyond the point of trying to earn his father's approval?

''He's gotten his father's approval, and I've got a nice photo of him when he won Dover, and Dale Jr. is looking at Dale Sr. -- and you've got to see this photo, so you can read their eyes. Jr. is looking at Dad like, 'Dad, do you approve? Did I do OK?' And Dale Sr. has the most sincere smile on his face, like a proud father, looking at him like, 'You're the man.'

''And then Dale Sr. reached out and pulled Jr.'s head real close and whispered something in his ear . . . that to this day they haven't told what he said. And I don't know if they ever will.''

Sr.'s reluctance to talk about his son? ''He doesn't want to pump his stock too soon,'' Hawk says. ''I think he's just measuring his words wisely.

''I mean, we figured Dale Jr. would win a race or two, but nobody knew he'd win seven. Just won at St. Louis, No. 7, home of the new sponsor. ''And nobody knew we'd be leading the championship.''

"My Fair Racer' Junior's official Cup debut appears, logically, set for Charlotte next May in the 600. But Hawk won't say specifically which five tracks will have the marketing honors.

''We're looking at going from May on, and let the sponsor work with us on what markets,'' Hawk said. ''We want to run the new Monte Carlo (which probably will debut at Charlotte next spring). Ty Norris is working with Chevrolet to get a closer feel for that date."(10-30-98)(Mike Mulhern - Journal Now)

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Earnhardt Jr plans to run "as hard as we can go"..."It would be nice to win the championship at Homestead -- if not sooner," said Earnhardt, who leads the series with seven victories and three pole positions in 28 races, in only his first full season in the division. The 24-year-old driver is quick to give credit to his team.

"These guys are excellent," Earnhardt said of his crew, led by Tony Eury Sr. "They were a race-winning team last year, and they pieced a few more things together to improve their performance this year. I just feel lucky to be a part of it."

Steve Park was the team's regular driver last season, winning three races. Earnhardt had eight starts, including a 13th place finish at Homestead. "He showed a lot of talent last year in the Busch car," said Park, who now drives the Dale Earnhardt Inc. Pennzoil Chevrolet in the Winston Cup Series. "We had a good team and we showed we can win some races, and he's picked up where we left off and has taken it to the next level. He's got a lot of his father in him."

Regardless of how the points shape up entering the finale, Earnhardt said he plans to run "as hard as we can go."

"You've got to be smart, but being too conservative can get you in trouble," he explained. "So we're going to run hard."(10-30-98)(IRace)

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Oct. 23, 1998) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be looking to make NASCAR history when he returns to the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex for the Nov. 13-15 Jiffy Lube Miami 300, the final event of the 1998 NASCAR Busch Series championship. Earnhardt can become the first third-generation champion in NASCAR's 50-year history.

His grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt, won the 1956 title in the NASCAR Sportsman division, the predecessor of the Busch Series, while Dale Earnhardt Sr. won seven Winston Cup championships (1980, 1986-87, 1990-91, 1993-94).
Driving the No. 3 AC Delco Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Earnhardt currently holds a 102-point lead over Matt Kenseth in the battle for the championship. Only three races remain, with events at Rockingham, N.C., and Atlanta preceding the season finale.

"It would be nice to win the championship at Homestead - if not sooner," said Earnhardt, who leads the series with seven victories and three pole positions in 28 races, in only his first full season in the division. The 24-year-old driver is quick to give credit to his team. "These guys are excellent," Earnhardt said of his crew, led by Tony Eury Sr. "They were a race-winning team last year, and they pieced a few more things together to improve their performance this year. I just feel lucky to be a part of it."

Steve Park was the team's regular driver last season, winning three races. Earnhardt had eight starts, including a 13th place finish at Homestead, "He showed a lot of talent last year in the Busch car," said Park, who now drives the Dale Earnhardt Inc. Pennzoil Chevrolet in the Winston Cup Series. "We had a good team and we showed we can win some races, and he's picked up where we left off and has taken it to the next level. He's got a lot of his father in him."

Regardless of how the points shape up entering the finale, Earnhardt said he plans to run "as hard as we can go."
"You've got to be smart, but being too conservative can get you in trouble," he explained. "So we're going to run hard."

Practice and qualifying for the Jiffy Lube Miami 300, the final event of the year at the Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex, begins on Friday, Nov. 13. The weekend also includes races for NASCAR's Slim Jim All Pro and Goody's Dash series. The fourth annual Jiffy Lube Miami 300 takes the green flag at 1 p.m. on Sunday. A limited number of grandstand seats are still available for therace weekend. Advance ticket buyers are also eligible to reserve tickets for Homestead's inaugural Winston Cup race, the 1999 Jiffy Lube Miami 400. For additional information or to place credit card orders, call (305) 230-RACE (7223). (story sent to me by J. T. Tunnicliff)(10-24-98)(from StockCar Fans Newsletter)

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"He never gives you an inch to breathe in," says Dale, Jr. "And he won't ever tell me I'm good. But it's his car I'm driving and I consider that a pat on the back. Don't get me wrong, he's been a great father, but he's earned everything he's got by hard work and he's very stern. He knows what you're capable of doing and he expects that every time, 100 percent of the time."

As I sat with Dale Jr. for more than an hour in Charlotte, N.C., recently, he went out of his way to paint a picture of his dad as the tough taskmaster. He said that while his dad can well afford to put a silver spoon in his mouth, he hasn't shown any inclination to do so.

"So far," the son said, laughing, "it's been nothing but plastic."

No one put any spoons in Dale Earnhardt's mouth, either, and as I sat there that day in Charlotte, looking at and listening to this 23-year-old, I found myself recalling a lot of interviews I'd shared with his father.(10-22-98)(Sandra McKee, MCI Racing)

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. goes into Saturday's Quest Auto Parts 250 at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Ill., with a 97-point lead over Matt Kenseth in the Busch Grand National standings.

With only two races remaining after Gateway, Earnhardt knows that keeping his lead intact is vital.

"Everyone wants to know how I feel about the championship," said Earnhardt, who turned 24 last Saturday. "We're taking it one race at a time. That's how I truly feel. I am still learning, and this team is the greatest bunch of guys in the world, and I am just having a good time."

Earnhardt, who drives for his father's Dale Earnhardt Inc., team, leads the Busch Series in just about every important category. He has six wins to Kenseth's three. Earnhardt has led 1,390 laps to 441 by runner-up Jeff Burton. The youngster has led 15 of 28 races, while Burton is second with seven. In miles led, Earnhardt tops Winston Cup regular Burton by 1,325.5 to 567.35. Earnhardt also has three poles.(10-14-98)(WRAL5 Online)

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Earnhardt Jr. won't fit into NASCAR's cookie cutter...''Dale Jr. is completely different'' Norris said. ''And nobody is going to cookie-cut or mold him into something else. He's going to be Dale Jr., and he's just a little bit different.
''Dale Earnhardt Jr. is making the Earnhardt name proud. But he doesn't come across as a small-town chicken farmer who wears Wrangler jeans and cowboy boots all the time. Dale Sr. is a county-western, Brooks and Dunn, CMA Awards presenter-type person.''
''And Dale Jr. is a whole new wave. He's not part of the new wave where you've got to have your hair cut perfect and parted on the side and be the perfect cardboard cutout. When we sat there with Mr. Busch the other day, the first thing we asked him was 'Do not, please, do not stand him up in a regular standup pose with his helmet in hand and smiling, like everybody else. Do something different. Be a little more risky.''
''When we went out for lunch the other day with all Anheuser-Busch's creative marketing folks, they took us to a little outdoor bar to meet and greet everybody,'' Norris said. ''So Dale Jr. met everybody and spoke. And when we all got done, we were standing there, and they had a little band, and some drums, some funky psychedelic drums. So Dale Jr. jumped up there and played drums for 'em.''(Mike Mulhern, Journal Now 10-2-98)

"He reminds me more of Ralph Earnhardt than he does Dale," Wheeler said. President and General Manager H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler has seen a lot of young hotshot drivers come and go during his years with NASCAR. He says the latest, Dale Earnhardt Jr., has come along at just the right time to keep the sport healthy and strong.

"I've got a theory that great race drivers are good fast, they're not great fast. Good race drivers that never become great -- it takes them a while to become good. I think Earnhardt Jr. has become good fast, and I think that there's something genetically that is handed down -- we've seen examples of that with Richard Petty, with Davey Allison, with Buddy Baker, that not always -- it might skip a generation or two -- but genes play a lot in the ability to drive a race car, and Dale Jr. seems to have picked up those genes because he's doing things on the race track right now that normally would take a couple of guys a couple of more years to master." - Humpy Wheeler
(9-30-98 Brett Borden Story NASCAR Online)

Contract stipulations bar rising star Dale Earnhardt Jr. from appearing in a racing machine at next month's Dura Lube/Kmart 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.Earnhardt Jr., however, won't become a full-time Winston Cup driver until the year 2000. In addition to fulfilling the final year of his Busch contract next season, the younger Earnhardt will compete in five Winston Cup races, one of which could be at PIR. (Speednet 9-28-98)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will NOT compete at this Sunday's Cup race in Charlotte and per That's Racin', who broke the initial story: Scratch the possibility of a Winston Cup debut for Dale Earnhardt Jr. next weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Don Hawk, president of Dale Earnhardt Inc., said that there's no longer a possibility the son of seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt will drive in next Sunday's UAW-GM 500 at CMS.
(Jayski's 9-28-98)
Our speculation is that Dale Jr is too close to winning the Busch Grand National Series Championship that it would be better to concentrate all efforts on the Busch Race and secure the Championship. Earhardt Sr mentioned in the Budweiser Press Conference (9-21) that it is a possibility that you may see Dale Jr in a Winston Cup car at the Phoenix race this year. The Busch Series is off the weekend of the Phoenix race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. might not make his first Winston Cup appearance on the other side of the world after all. It could come, in fact, next Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Don Hawk, president of Dale Earnhardt Inc., said Saturday it's possible the team might enter Earnhardt Jr., the Grand National circuit's points leader, in next Sunday's UAW-GM 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

But Hawk said Saturday that, depending on how well things go in Sunday's NAPA 500 for Steve Park in the DEI-owned car, the team could have a car in which Earnhardt Jr. could race next weekend. "It might be too late for us to make it, but it could happen,'' Hawk said.

A late entry for Earnhardt Jr. could still be filed this week even though the official deadline for entries in the Charlotte race was 5 p.m. Friday. The late entry would mean only that Earnhardt Jr. would not be eligible to collect Winston Cup points in the race.(Racin' Bob & That's Racin 9-26-98)

Tony Eury's Mother dies...Tony Eury, crew chief of the #3 ACDelco Busch car owned by Dale Earnhardt, and his son, Tony Eury Jr, could not show up for the MBNA 200 Busch Race until the morning of the race. Tony Eury's mother passed away earlier in the week. The whole weekend was difficult for the Earnhardts and Eurys. They are like family. Dale Jr mentioned this in a post race interview as a "family matter".(TNN race coverage)(9-18-98)

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