left.gif (848 bytes) main.gif (882 bytes)
News The Earnhardt Connection
Text links are located at the bottom of the page.

Earnhardt hopes to make Darlington history
Darlington, South Carolina (September 1, 1998)

Dale Earnhardt is looking to tie the legendary David Pearson (left) for most wins at Darlington.

Over his 20-year career, Dale Earnhardt has experienced great success at Darlington Raceway.  If there were a race track that Earnhardt could pick to run for a million-dollar bonus, the track "Too Tough to Tame" would be it.

When the GM Goodwrench Service Plus team brought home a fifth-place finish in the Aug. 1 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it qualified them for the Winston "No Bull 5" $1 million bonus that is up for grabs this weekend in the Pepsi Southern 500 at Darlington.

"It's not every day that you get a million dollar bonus," Earnhardt said. "R.J. Reynolds always finds a way of getting better and better. The 'No Bull 5' is a great promotion that not only includes the drivers and teams, but the fans as well. It's important to remember the fans. They are the ones that watch and support NASCAR."

This is the second time Earnhardt and the team have been eligible for the bonus. The first was after Earnhardt won the season opening Daytona 500, qualifying them for the bonus at the 600-mile event in Charlotte.

"We won the Daytona 500 and it paid a million dollars," Earnhardt said. "Now, if we win Darlington, it's another million. I guess if you're only going to win two races this year, Daytona and Darlington sound like a million bucks."

Earnhardt holds the race record for the fastest 500 miles run at Darlington. He accomplished that March 29, 1993. That day, Earnhardt went on to win his eighth race at the 1.366-mile oval at an average speed of 139.958 mph, and did it in 3 hours, 33 minutes, 29 seconds.

Kevin Hamlin, crew chief for the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet team, knows what it's going to take to be a contender at Darlington.

"Qualifying has been a weak point (for the team this year)," Hamlin said. "The backstretch pits makes it difficult to win races and that's where we've been. I think we've overcome most of our struggles with qualifying. If so, I think we have a good chance of cashing that big check."

Earnhardt leads the list of active drivers with nine wins at Darlington. Behind the "Intimidator" are Darrell Waltrip and Bill Elliott with five wins each. The only driver in the sport's history to have won more races than Earnhardt at Darlington is South Carolina native David Pearson, who has 10 victories.

Pearson gained his 10th win in the 1979 Southern 500 while relief driving for the injured Earnhardt. That win was also car owner Rod Osterlund's only Darlington victory.

With its ninth-place finish at New Hampshire International Speedway, the GM Goodwrench Service Plus team has finished in the top-10 in five of their last 10 events, and has moved from 13th to eighth in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series points standings.