Earnhardt History
1997 Season
What's wrong with Dale?

1997 Season

Starts 32
Wins 0
Top 5's 7
Top 10's 16
Points Rank 5
Crew Chief:
Larry McReynolds
Car Owner:
Richard Childress
Car Make:
Chevy Monte Carlo
Car No: 3
Sponsor: GM Goodwrench Service Plus



For 1997, established crew chief Larry McReynolds joined the team, replacing David Smith. Nearly everyone was expecting the Earnhardt-McReynolds combo to be a strong contender for the championship. Unfortunately it wasn't to be.

The 1997 season was instead a year-long struggle for Dale Earnhardt. He was involved in a crash while racing for second in the closing laps of the Daytona 500, preventing him once again from winning the prestigious event.

A scary event for Earnhardt was the Southern 500 in September at Darlington Raceway. Dale's car brushed the Turn 1 wall, and then hit the wall hard in Turn 2 on the first lap. Earnhardt slowed and drove slowly around the track, but missed the entrance to pit road.
car2.jpg (19060 bytes)He went around again, ignoring team owner Richard Childress' radio command to park the car where it is. When Dale finally got his car onto pit road, his crew had to get in front of it to bring it to a stop. Dale was carried from the car and taken to the infield care center, followed by the hospital for tests. The incident was diagnosed as a temporary dysfunction of the brain where a blood vessel feeding the base of the brain temporarily went into spasm and restricted some of the blood flow to the brain stem. After spending one night in the hospital Earnhardt was cleared to race the next weekend.

Dale had just 7 top-5's all year and went winless for the first season of his career. Earnhardt, McReynolds and the team tried everything, but nothing seemed to help get the Intimidator back to victory lane.



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