Earnhardt History
1990 Season
Nine wins and 4th championship

1990 Season

Starts 29
Wins 9
Top 5's 18
Top 10's 23
Points Rank 1
Crew Chief:
Kirk Shelmerdine
Car Owner:
Richard Childress
Car Make:
Chevy Lumina
Car No: 3
Sponsor: GM Goodwrench

 

 

For Dale Earnhardt, who had retreated immediately into the woods for a little deer hunting following the completion of the 1989 NASCAR Winston Cup season, there was plenty of time to analyze what had gone wrong.  His frustration grew when he realized that he has essentially lost the title at North Wilkesboro because he had not looked at the big picture.  On that Sunday afternoon, his battle with Ricky Rudd on the final lap was about victory - but not victory in the overall points battle.  Instead of regaining the point lead over Rusty Wallace that afternoon, he had lost another two points on the leader.  Angry with himself, he fired his gun into the ground.

And from that moment on, Dale was a dedicated soul.  He would come roaring out of the blocks, overcome a disappointing final lap at Daytona and lead his team on its quest for another championship.  This time, he was clearly focused on the title rather than winning a single race.  He had watched Rusty claim the one million dollar champion's bonus at the Waldorf-Astoria, and he was determined to retake the champion's table at center stage when it came time for the festivities next December.

Earnhardt and the Richard Childress team's determination to come out of the box smoking had been evident to everyone in the Daytona garage.  The black Goodwrench Chevrolet was the dominant car throughout Speedweeks.   Dale looked like he had his first Daytona 500 victory in hand until he cut a tire on the final lap and skated high in the third turn.  Derrike Cope's Chevrolet whipped by Earnhardt, leaving his with another Daytona disappointment.  Dale managed to bring his Chevrolet home fifth.  It was a heartbreaking loss, but there was little question in anyone's mind that the team was on a quest.

At Atlanta, Dale finally moved to the top of the points table with his first victory of the season.  Mark Martin was 175 points behind Earnhardt as the teams headed for Darlington.  There, Mark only fell further behind when Dale won his second straight race.

Earnhardt led the point battle after the Coca-Cola 600.  Early in the Budweiser 500 at Dover, Dale broke the engine in his Goodwrench Chevy early in the race, but with a determined effort, his team was able to repair the motor in just over 90 minutes.  Earnhardt returned to the track after the outstanding work by his crew and picked up 12 more points than he would have earned had he stayed in the garage.  Unfortunately for Dale, it wasn't enough - he lost the point lead to Morgan Shepherd.

A couple of races after Dover, Dale streaked to a pair of consecutive wins at Daytona and Pocono, followed by a win a couple of weeks after that in the DieHard 500 at Talladega.

The championship clearly had come down to the two drivers -- everyone else was too far behind to challenge.  Dale picked up his second-straight Heinz Southern 500 in Darlington and a win in Richmond the following race.   When the teams arrived at Charlotte, the point lead that Martin had held for months had shrunk to 16 points.

Both teams struggled at Charlotte and Rockingham.  At Charlotte, Dale lost a rear tire on pit road when his lug nuts weren't tightened.  His crew, tools and tires in hand, dashed down to the turn one apron and put a new tire on the Chevrolet.  Davey Allison won the race, while Martin increased his lead to 49 points.

Two races later in Phoenix, Martin still had the point lead, 45 points ahead of Dale in the championship battle.  But Earnhardt won the Checker 500 in dominant style.  Martin, on the other hand, had to make an emergency pit stop late in the race.  As a result, Dale left Phoenix with a six point lead.

For the season finale in Atlanta, the Ford teams left no stones unturned to help Mark win the title.  He tested no less than six cars prior to the race, before settling on a car that belonged to Robert Yates Racing.   Earnhardt, meanwhile, was calm and cool, treating the race no differently than he would treat any other race.  Martin was only able to finish sixth, while a calm Earnhardt coasted to a third place finish.  Earnhardt had won his fourth title by 24 points.

On his way to a record $3.3 million season, Earnhardt also claimed the $100,000 "consolation" bonus for winning two of the three events counting for the Winston Million.  The cut tire at Daytona on the final lap of the season-opening race kept him from claiming the Million.  He had won at Talladega and Darlington in two of the other three races counting for the huge bonus.

 



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