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'Little E' keeping things in perspective
June 8, 1999 By Dave Rodman, NASCAR Online

God bless Dale Earnhardt Jr. for keeping his head firmly attached while everyone -- it appears -- is trying to wrench it off with a whirlwind of activities surrounding his fast-track racing career. Earnhardt Jr. managed to stay a step ahead of 'em -- literally and figuratively -- Saturday when he held off a hard-running Ward Burton and a fast-closing Todd Bodine to win his second straight NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division MBNA Platinum 200.

But as much as it appears he will be molded into someone's vision of a driver, "Little E" remains "just ol' Dale." Among other things, the young driver often displays an introspective side not often seen in his father.

"I've kind of got mixed emotions here," Earnhardt Jr. said immediately after exiting his ACDelco Chevrolet in Dover's Victory Lane.

"We lost a relative and a real good friend -- the father of Tony Eury, Ralph Eury. We want to dedicate this one to him. We wanted to get him one in Charlotte (May 29), but it had to come at Dover.

"We finally got to Victory Lane, so maybe we got the monkey off our back. We put a little point spread on 'em, so maybe we can go down to Homestead and win the championship again."

Earnhardt Jr. came into the race 84 points behind friend and main rival Matt Kenseth, so he was correct when he cited the win's significance.

A year ago, Earnhardt gave great credit to his Dover victory, which he achieved despite a mid-race spin, as being the greatest impetus to his championship charge in his first full season in the NASCAR Busch Series. He thought Saturday might be a preview of, if not another championship, at least good times to come.

"To get first place is surely a relief compared to where we've been running," Jr. said. "We're going to go home now and watch the truck race and drink some Budweiser."

As much as he goes rock 'n' roll at the drop of a hat or a checkered flag, Little E certainly has his compassionate side as well.

"I hated to see Matt Kenseth have trouble," Earnhardt said. "He's certainly a good race car driver. It's a shame to have to get points that way. I wanted to do it on the race track.

"I figured he'd be up there shortly, but I never saw him. Then I saw his car torn up. That's a shame for the whole crew. Those guys work hard. They've stepped their program up, and they're one of the better teams this year."

The victory was Earnhardt's first in his title defense. Although he had seven at the end of last season, he's only one behind where he was at this time last year.

The 1999 season has been marked by jagged up and down swings -- from 3rd one week to 34th and 32nd the next two. But he and his Tony Eury-led crew have never hung their heads and his optimism has never flagged, heading back to a diverse stretch of races in June and July.

"Now that we're back in Victory Lane, I hope all the Earnhardt fans are happy," Earnhardt Jr. said. "We've been out of Victory Lane for a while, so this gives us something to be excited about. We're real happy everything is going like we expected. We had a little difficulty with winning some races like we did last year, but the car has been running up front. We've been running in the top-2."

And if he can keep finishing as he has the last three races: Two seconds and a win -- that second championship may be a foregone conclusion.

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Blk3GM's Dale Earnhardt Site was born on July 26, 1998 and is owned and maintained by Gary Harris.  This site is a tribute to "NASCAR's Greatest Driver" and his up and coming son.  We are not affiliated with any official Team, Sponsors, Media Group or NASCAR.  This site is solely for entertainment purposes.  Information and statistic's on this site have been collected from various NASCAR related sites on the internet, from Winston Cup Scene, Newspapers, Television and our personal experience at Winston Cup and Busch Grand National races.  All statistics are believed to be accurate at the time they are updated but cannot be guaranteed.
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