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Earnhardt banks on Michigan hot streak
The Earnhardt Connection

Brooklyn, Michigan (August 12, 1998)

Since winning at Daytona, Dale Earnhardt has endured an up-and-down season.

Dale Earnhardt's riding the crest of what's been -- for him in an up-and-down season -- a hot streak of note in the last six races. This weekend's NASCAR doubleheader at Michigan Speedway will give him an unusual opportunity: To run a fast car and observe his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who's been on a tear of his own.

"We had a good car the last time we were here, and got it torn up before the race," Earnhardt said. "We're coming back with that car, and I think you'll see the black No. 3 at the front of the field."

Earnhardt and the GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet crew had to use a back-up car for the first race this season in Michigan. After qualifying for the race in 25th spot, the car was involved in an accident during the final practice with Rusty Wallace, causing the team to start the event from the end of the starting grid.

Earnhardt came back to finish 15th, one lap behind winner Mark Martin.

Earnhardt has two victories at Michigan. His first came in June of 1987. His second came in 1990, where the Richard Childress Racing team started the event from the 20th position.

Earnhardt's team has made some improvement in the standings since their last trip to Michigan, in early June for the Miller Lite 400. Earnhardt and the team have moved from 13th in the points and are currently in the ninth spot. He is only 20 points out of eighth position and 51 points from seventh.

The team has improved on its starting and finishing positions in the last six races. It has qualified on its first attempt in five of the last six races and has three top-10 finishes -- and just missed two others with 11th-place finishes in those six races.

The team has made its improvement since owner Richard Childress made a change in crew chiefs, moving Kevin Hamlin to the No. 3 and swapping Larry McReynolds from the No. 3 to driver Mike Skinner's No. 31 Lowe's Chevrolet.

"Putting Kevin with the No. 3 and Larry with the No. 31 has helped both RCR programs," Earnhardt said. "We've made first round qualifying in all but one race since the switch, and we both had top-five finishes at the Brickyard."

The icing on the cake for Earnhardt this weekend will be watching Dale Jr. compete on Saturday in the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Pepsi 200 presented by DeVilbiss. Earnhardt Jr. leads the series standings and has won five times in the ACDelco Chevrolet owned by Earnhardt and his wife, Teresa.

"With the schedules the way they are, I don't get to see Dale Jr. race in person that much," Earnhardt said. "When we come to places like Michigan, where both series run together, it gives me the chance to watch him race.

"We didn't know what to expect at the beginning of the season. He didn't have much experience and that was a concern. I think he has shown he can handle the job, and made our decision look like a smart one."