Q&A with Winston Cup
driver Dale Earnhardt
(Mar. 31, 2000)
After six races, Dale Earnhardt has one victory, three
top-5s and four top-10 finishes. He is fifth in points, 131 behind leader Bobby Labonte.
Earnhardt spoke this week with Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Rick Minter.
Q: Has your season started about like you thought it
Earnhardt: It's been a good start with the win at Atlanta
and running in the top five in points so far. You've got to race guys who finish up there,
and you've got to be one of them. Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin are going to be the
consistent guys to beat. We're getting back on track with our new Monte Carlo. The way
things are right now, it looks more competitive than ever with the Chevrolet, Pontiac and
Q: How hard will it be to win an eighth Winston Cup
championship this year?
Earnhardt: They keep moving the mark. Now it's top fives
and wins. A top-10 finish in a race may keep you competitive, but it's not going to win
you the championship.
Q: How much difference is there in the race cars you drove to
championships in the mid 1980s and early 1990s and the ones you drive today?
Earnhardt: The earlier car was a tougher-built race car.
It had a lot more bracing in it, and you could scuff the wall with them or get in a
bump-up, and you'd still race and win. The cars today are lighter-built, in the sense that
they do away with everything they can but still build a strong chassis that's not going to
fold up under force. But it probably would fold up under a wreck or bump-up.
Q: How bad were you hurting before the surgery on your
Earnhardt: I was racing with a lot of pain and stuff, but
as far as getting to the point where I couldn't feel my hand, no, I never did that. After
I'd get out of the car, it was that way, and that aggravated me a whole lot. I would go to
a chiropractor and everything, until I got smart and went to a doctor.
Q: What do you think of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s performance
to this point?
Earnhardt: He has been fun to watch since he started
racing. He's been able to take a race car and do things that a lot of people wouldn't be
able to do and would think he couldn't do. He drives a race car as hard as he can go with
his heart -- a lot like I did and have done. I'm very proud of him.
T h e E a r n h a r d t C o n n
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