Another season, another title
|Car No: 3
|Sponsor: GM Goodwrench
Although the level of competition in NASCAR was
at an all-time high during the 1991 season (there were nine different winners in the first
10 races of the year), it was apparent from the moment the teams unloaded at Daytona that
Dale Earnhardt was again going to be the man to beat for the championship. Dale
wasted no time showing the entire garage area the firepower he had ready for the 1991
season. The Busch Clash had a new format for '91. Now, the field would be
inverted for the second half of the 20-lap sprint race. Earnhardt won the first 10
laps easily, going from sixth place to the lead in just one lap. Consequently he
started last in the 14-car field for the second 10 laps, and in a driving display that was
vintage Earnhardt, he rocketed to the point in just over a lap. It was a
runaway. Even Dale had to crinkle a grin under his mustache. "It was
pretty awesome, wasn't it?" was his rhetorical question.
Dale went on to win one of the two Gatorade Twin 125's and blast to victory in
Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series race. He definitely looked ready to finally win his
first Daytona 500 after a dozen of tries. But a group of "Mighty Mights"
wearing Kodak yellow had a surprise for him. Ernie Irvan bolted to the lead in the
restart after the final caution and left Earnhardt and Davey Allison in the lurch.
Irvan went on to become the surprise winner of the Daytona 500.
Still, over the course of the season, no one could handle the reliability and
consistency of the Goodwrench Chevrolet team, and after Talladega's Winston 500 -- won by
Harry Gant with a little help in the form of a push from Skoal teammate Rick Mast --
Earnhardt found himself at the head of the points table. It was a lead he would not
relinquish throughout the remainder of the season.
In the end, the championship came down to a battle between Dale Earnhardt and Ricky
Rudd, and Earnhardt simply had all the answers. Ricky won just once -- the TranSouth
Financial 500 at Darlington -- while Earnhardt went to victory lane four times. One
of Earnhardt's victories came in the DieHard 500 at Talladega, where he held off a phalanx
of Fords and took his Chevrolet to the line first. He later remarked that he now
"understood how Custer felt looking at the ridges full of Indians when those Fords
lined up to come get me."
Earnhardt, car owner Richard Childress and his team unarguably had become the best
in the sport when it came to winning championships. Their experience and ability to
"bulletproof" a car in the stretch run to the title made the difference.
Earnhardt went into Atlanta, the final race of the season, needing only to start to clinch
the title. He fired the engine, the banners went up and Dale won the NASCAR Winston
Cup crown by 195 points. Allison and Rudd were locked in a furious battle for second
place, but a dead battery erased Davey's seven-second lead lead midway through the
race. Rudd moved just past Allison in the final points standings and captured second
place by just four points!
Copyright © 2000 The Earnhardt Connection
Home Page | Contact Us