Earnhardt History
1991 Season
Another season, another title

1991 Season

Starts 29
Wins 4
Top 5's 14
Top 10's 21
Points Rank 1
Crew Chief:
Kirk Shelmerdine
Car Owner:
Richard Childress
Car Make:
Chevy Lumina
Car No: 3
Sponsor: GM Goodwrench



Although the level of competition in NASCAR was at an all-time high during the 1991 season (there were nine different winners in the first 10 races of the year), it was apparent from the moment the teams unloaded at Daytona that Dale Earnhardt was again going to be the man to beat for the championship.  Dale wasted no time showing the entire garage area the firepower he had ready for the 1991 season.  The Busch Clash had a new format for '91.  Now, the field would be inverted for the second half of the 20-lap sprint race.  Earnhardt won the first 10 laps easily, going from sixth place to the lead in just one lap.  Consequently he started last in the 14-car field for the second 10 laps, and in a driving display that was vintage Earnhardt, he rocketed to the point in just over a lap.  It was a runaway.  Even Dale had to crinkle a grin under his mustache.  "It was pretty awesome, wasn't it?" was his rhetorical question.

Dale went on to win one of the two Gatorade Twin 125's and blast to victory in Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series race.  He definitely looked ready to finally win his first Daytona 500 after a dozen of tries.  But a group of "Mighty Mights" wearing Kodak yellow had a surprise for him.  Ernie Irvan bolted to the lead in the restart after the final caution and left Earnhardt and Davey Allison in the lurch.   Irvan went on to become the surprise winner of the Daytona 500.

Still, over the course of the season, no one could handle the reliability and consistency of the Goodwrench Chevrolet team, and after Talladega's Winston 500 -- won by Harry Gant with a little help in the form of a push from Skoal teammate Rick Mast -- Earnhardt found himself at the head of the points table.  It was a lead he would not relinquish throughout the remainder of the season.

In the end, the championship came down to a battle between Dale Earnhardt and Ricky Rudd, and Earnhardt simply had all the answers.  Ricky won just once -- the TranSouth Financial 500 at Darlington -- while Earnhardt went to victory lane four times.  One of Earnhardt's victories came in the DieHard 500 at Talladega, where he held off a phalanx of Fords and took his Chevrolet to the line first.  He later remarked that he now "understood how Custer felt looking at the ridges full of Indians when those Fords lined up to come get me."

Earnhardt, car owner Richard Childress and his team unarguably had become the best in the sport when it came to winning championships.  Their experience and ability to "bulletproof" a car in the stretch run to the title made the difference.   Earnhardt went into Atlanta, the final race of the season, needing only to start to clinch the title.  He fired the engine, the banners went up and Dale won the NASCAR Winston Cup crown by 195 points.  Allison and Rudd were locked in a furious battle for second place, but a dead battery erased Davey's seven-second lead lead midway through the race.  Rudd moved just past Allison in the final points standings and captured second place by just four points!


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