Earnhardt History
1989 Season
Earnhardt gets 5 wins in new Chevy Lumina

1989 Season

Starts 29
Wins 5
Top 5's 14
Top 10's 19
Points Rank 2
Crew Chief:
Kirk Shelmerdine
Car Owner:
Richard Childress
Car Make:
Chevy Lumina
Car No: 3
Sponsor: GM Goodwrench

 

 

Bill Elliott's championship run the previous season (1988) had given Dale Earnhardt, among many others, plenty to stew about over the winter months.  Earnhardt had failed in his quest to win three straight championships.

In the Daytona 500, Dale was highly competitive, but he ran low on fuel with just 10 laps to go.  Although he failed to win the event, the 500 proved that the Goodwrench team could still be competitive.

Earnhardt, with his third place in the 500 and a third in the following race (Richmond) moved into the point lead before giving it up to Rusty Wallace.  Dale won again at North Wilkesboro, and when he snapped a 10-year winless streak at Dover, he was ready to make his run.  Dale retook the points lead following the Sears Point race and led throughout the summer months.

On the same weekend that Dale Earnhardt's father, Ralph, was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association's Hall of Fame, Dale enjoyed an overpowering victory in the Southern 500.  The win boosted Dale's point lead to 63 points over Rusty Wallace and 196 over Mark Martin.  It looked as though he was tightening his grip on the title.  But shortly afterwards, at Charlotte, everything began unraveling for the Goodwrench team.

While racing at Charlotte, his "backyard" track, a camshaft broke in his Chevrolet, dropping Dale to a 42nd-place finish - last place.  Rusty Wallace's eighth place finish in Charlotte made up the 75 points Dale held over him, and Rusty took the point lead.  At North Wilkesboro, Dale and Ricky Rudd engaged in a final-lap battle that caused the two to spin out and handed the victory to Geoff Bodine.

After a collision in Phoenix, Rusty Wallace's lead in the points was cut to 79 points over Dale Earnhardt in third place in the standings.  Mark Martin was second in the standings 78 points behind Wallace.   Entering the season's final race, at Atlanta, anything could happen - and it nearly did.

Both Earnhardt and Martin came loaded with their best in hopes of chasing down Wallace.  Dale dominated the action and won the race, while Martin was the victim of a fiery engine failure that ended his championship hopes.

Wallace almost lost the championship at Atlanta.   At one point in the race, Rusty was in 33rd place, a lap down.  But he battled back to a 15th place finish, and it was enough to give him the championship.  He was 12 points ahead of Earnhardt in the final tally.

 



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