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Hamlin believes third time a charm
Richmond, Virginia (September 10, 1998)

Dale Earnhardt and the No. 3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus NASCAR Winston Cup team recently tested at Richmond International Raceway with a new Monte Carlo in preparation for this Saturday's Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400.

Earnhardt liked the car so much that they loaded it as the backup for New Hampshire.   After damaging their primary car in Friday morning's practice, the team used the new car and finished ninth in the New Hampshire race.  The race car was used again this past week at Darlington where Earnhardt finished fourth.

Now with two races under its belt with that car, the GM Goodwrench Service Plus team will bring the same Monte Carlo to Richmond where crew chief Kevin Hamlin says "the third time's a charm."

Before a string of five disappointing finishes out of the top-10 at RIR, Earnhardt and the GM Goodwrench Service Plus team had 29 top-10 and 24 top- five finishes.

The first of Dale Earnhardt's five wins at Richmond International Raceway came in the Miller High Life 400, February 24th, 1985. Additionally, he had back-to-back wins in 1987, won the fall race in 1990 and the spring in 1991.

It was after the disappointing 21st-place finish at the last Richmond race that team owner Richard Childress decided to swap crew chief Larry McReynolds and RCR team No. 31 crew chief Kevin Hamlin.

"When we left here running for 20-something position, I knew we couldn't keep going in that direction," Childress said. "The changes have helped both teams get turned around. We haven't made winner's circle yet, but it won't be long."

"We came and tested here because we needed to find what we lost," Earnhardt said. "It wasn't long ago that we would leave here with a win or a top-five finish. We haven't done that the last five trips, and we needed to find out why. I think we're all happy with how it went. We had a good test."

With a fourth-place finish at Darlington last Sunday, Earnhardt and the GM Goodwrench Service Plus team will be eligible for the "No Bull 5" $1 million dollar bonus at Talladega Superspeedway in October. Earnhardt has been eligible for three of the possible five Winston "No Bull 5" bonuses.