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The Winston - Paint Schemes
1995: RJR's Silver Anniversary w/ NASCAR

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1995 Winston Select:
Without knowing it at the time, Dale Earnhardt and Richard Childress Racing started a trend in 1995 when they agreed to give the #3 GM Goodwrench Chevrolet a special one-race paint scheme. The event was the Winston Select, a non-points race for the Winston Cup Series' best drivers, where anything can and does happen. RCR announced they would paint the car silver, in honor of RJR Tobacco's 25th year (or silver anniversary) with NASCAR. The Winston, already well-known for its large purse, unique format, and exciting, unpredictable racing, soon also became known for the special one-race paint schemes which many teams began to run.

In the Race:
At the start of the final 10-lap shootout, the front row was made up of Jeff Gordon on the inside and Darrell Waltrip on the outside. Earnhardt started the segment from the third spot in row 2. Coming to take the green flag, Waltrip jumped the start, and the field reformed to get the green flag once again. This time following the drop of the green flag, Earnhardt dove to the inside of Gordon, making it three-wide with Gordon in the middle of Earnhardt and Waltrip. The three cars were headed into Turn 3 three-wide when Gordon backed off the throttle at the last second. In the corner, Earnhardt, who hadn't gotten a good entry into the turn because he was three-wide, slid up the track and smacked into Waltrip. Sparks flew as the two leaders slammed into the Turn 4 wall. Gordon drove by, eventually winning.

An excerpt from Dale Earnhardt: Rear View Mirror
May 21, 1995
Bad night for the paint job
by Ron Green

The sparks fly as Dale Earnhardt and Darrell Waltrip hit the wall exiting Turn 4 on the first lap of the final segment of The Winston Select. The accident was the third involving Earnhardt of the evening, and it allowed Jeff Gordon (lower right) to slip by and cruise to a $300,000 victory. (Mark B. Sluder/The Charlotte Observer)

Charlotte, N.C.— It’s a good nickname for him, one that fits his daring racing style, but you may not want to mention it for a while.

He did a little more terminating Saturday night in the Winston Select race at Charlotte Motor Speedway than he would care to have brought up over his morning coffee.

In 70 laps of racing, 10 cars wrecked in accidents that he accidentally triggered. That was eight others and his twice. He must have felt like Dennis The Menace out there.

When Jeff Gordon won the Winston Select, Earnhardt was in the garage area looking at the remains of his Chevrolet.

Maybe it was the color. Earnhardt’s No. 3 is ordinarily black, but he agreed to drive a silver car on this occasion to celebrate R.J. Reynolds’ 25th anniversary as a sponsor of the Winston Cup program. Maybe it was like Michael Jordan wearing No. 45 and losing his jump shot.

Whatever, Earnhardt had a tough night.

It began with just a thrill. In the first of three segments of this unique race, he started fourth but quickly made a move to the front. There, he came abreast of his buddy Rusty Wallace. Suddenly, they clanged together and got a little squirrelly, which is not good when you have the entire field packed tightly behind you.

Memories of last year’s Winston Select flashed to mind. They tangled in that one and wound up in smoking wreckage.

But they’re good. They straightened up this time and hurried on off.

In the second segment, in heavy traffic, Dale Jarrett appeared to slow just a fraction to let another car tuck in, but Earnhardt, who was behind him, didn’t slow. He tapped Jarrett’s bumper, sending him spinning, and when the smoke cleared, five cars had run into something hard.

Asked what happened, Jarrett growled, "Got hit."

Everyone went in for pit stops. When they came out, Earnhardt was sent to the rear of the pack for having exited pit road too fast.

Told you it was a bad night.

But Earnhardt brought his beat-up silver car back near the front and finished the second segment in third place. That gave him a second-row start behind Gordon for the 10-lap shoot-out.

Now, the last 10 laps of the Winston Select is not for the faint of heart. It invites every instinct in a racer’s body to express itself in some wild and crazy racing.

On the first of the 10 laps, with Darrell Waltrip coming out of the third turn, Earnhardt went under a car and Waltrip went above it. Car sandwich.

Gordon watched and said to himself, "No way are they gonna get out of the fourth turn without wrecking."

Earnhardt rarely if ever complains if someone wrecks him. And when he wrecks somebody, he admits it.

"I just got loose and lost it and got into Darrell," he said.

A thought occurred to some of us as the cars rolled toward those last 10 laps with Gordon looking at Earnhardt in his rear view mirror.

Tough night or not, Earnhardt is still the best, still running out front the way he has for years. But he can see the future. It is Jeff Gordon, and it’s coming on fast.

Some of the other drivers call Gordon, The Kid.

If The Kid keeps going the way he has the past couple of years, they’ll soon be calling him The Man.

Click on an image for a larger version.

Heading for Turn 1.

Checkers or wreckers?

Earnhardt pits for tires.

The car.

Qualifying for the Winston is unique in that drivers are required to make a pit stop.

More on-track racin'.


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