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Earnhardt wrecks in practice
The Earnhardt Connection
Brooklyn, Michigan (June 13, 1998)

The final practice for the Miller Lite 400 at Michigan Speedway was spoiled by an incident that sent Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt careening into the second-turn wall Saturday.

Following the wreck, Earnhardt walked up to Wallace in the garage area, grabbed him by the front of his driving uniform and made some strong remarks.

I ain't the #24 car," Earnhardt said to Wallace as the two were separated from each other.  "I'll hit you back."

``I'll take the blame for the whole deal,'' Wallace told reporters shortly after. ``The rear end got out from under me. It was my fault for trying to be too aggressive. It was the wrong time to try that.

``Dale was real upset and I would have been, too. I don't blame him. We're still good friends and it's unfortunate that it happened. If I could go back and change it, I would.''

Earnhardt, who cooled down quickly and began preparing to drive in the IROC race later Saturday afternoon, said, ``It's just very frustrating when you work so hard and you tear up so many race cars like we have in the last month.''

The accident took place about halfway through the one-hour session Saturday.

The two were close together when Wallace's Ford slid sideways, slapping Earnhardt's Chevrolet and sending both cars skidding into the concrete barrier at the top of the 2-mile, high-banked track.

Wallace and Earnhardt were able to drive their damaged cars back to the garage area.

After some quick repairs, Wallace returned to the track in the same car.

Damage to Earnhardt's car, however, was much more serious. The front end was heavily damaged, as was the left side.  Earnhardt's team immediately began preparing his backup. Since he cannot drive the car he qualified 25th for Sunday's race, the seven-time Winston Cup champion would have to move to the rear of the 43-car field. Wallace will start third in the repaired car.