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Earnhardt is in the show on day one
Brett Borden
Brooklyn, Michigan (June 12, 1998)

Following a week in which the crew chief shakeup at Richard Childress Racing was the big NASCAR Winston Cup Series news, all eyes at Michigan Speedway Friday were on the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet. If they were looking for improvement from the man known as "The Intimidator," well, the eyes have it.

Earnhardt finally made the field in first round qualifying...barely.  With Kevin Hamlin calling the shots for the No. 3 team for the first time, Dale qualified 25th with a lap of 179.158 mph.  For the seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion, that makes all the difference in the world.

"Well, I made the race the first day," Earnhardt said. "We fought this for race after race. Qualifying has not been good to us. We can come out here tomorrow and concentrate on getting our car ready to go race. We don't have to worry if we're going to get bumped back further in the field or what. We'll go out and get our race setup under it and go. As bad I was running in practice, we made some changes and kept searching and it worked."

Larry McReynolds, crew chief for Earnhardt's car until this week, now turns the wrenches on Mike Skinner's No. 31 Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse Chevrolet. Skinner didn't make the field on the first day, but he did turn in the 28th-fastest time at 179.100. Don't think Earnhardt didn't notice where the other Childress team was on the starting grid.

"We ran a 40.18 and Skinner ran a 40.20," said Earnhardt. "He had been a lot faster in practice, but I feel good about making the race the first day. We haven't had any luck, and we need some kind of luck. I think this is a turn in the right direction. We want to get the car as fast as we can for the race, and that's what we'll do Saturday. We can focus on that now. Getting in the first day makes a big difference."