Daytona Childress Teams Try to Hook Up

Childress teams fail to hook up By Brett Borden DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 14, 1999) Dale Earnhardt and Mike Skinner will remember this Valentine's Day as a day of broken hearts. Both were within reach of the ultimate one-day achievement in...

Childress teams fail to hook up By Brett Borden

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 14, 1999) Dale Earnhardt and Mike Skinner will remember this Valentine's Day as a day of broken hearts. Both were within reach of the ultimate one-day achievement in NASCAR Winston Cup racing -- victory in the Daytona 500. If either had been able to help the other one out, they could be celebrating a one-two finish for their car owner Richard Childress. But circumstances conspired to put someone else -- their arch-rival Jeff Gordon -- in victory lane.

"I was just trying to get some help," said Earnhardt, who came within a car length of winning his second consecutive Daytona 500. "The 28 car (Kenny Irwin) and the 31 (Skinner) were trying to race each other. I couldn't really muster much on Jeff. His car was stronger from the center of the corner off than I was. I just never could get to him. If could have got to him, I could have got a bumper under him.

"I was sitting there waiting, trying to go and I couldn't go. If Skinner had been behind me, maybe he could have pushed me and got me beside him or got me to him, but I just couldn't get to him. Gordon was backing off in the center of the corner, holding the air between us. I knew that, but every time I'd back off, he'd back off. It made it rougher for the guys behind me trying to pass me. I don't think he did it on the trioval. If he had done it there, he probably would have got pushed sideways."

For his part, Skinner was having trouble getting help from Earnhardt earlier in the race.

"Naturally you're a little frustrated," said Skinner, who finished fourth. "It's hard to watch people go draft with your opponents instead of your own team, but that's the way it goes. We're at Daytona, man. This is restrictor-plate racing. Nobody is going to help anybody if they've got a 31 on the door.

"I would have much rather been behind that black 3 (Earnhardt). The way circumstances were, it wasn't meant to be that way today. Maybe it will be at Talladega. We were able to pass cars by ourself in the Bud Shootout, but the 28 just had a little bit too much motor for us.

"I lost my partner, Dale Jarrett. (Jarrett was collected in an accident midway through the race). He was probably the best partner I had today, but Kenny came up there and raced us clean and did a good job. He got by us, and I just wasn't able to get by him. I think he would have pushed Dale forward if he could have, too."

Earnhardt said traffic probably played the biggest part in his failure to work better with Skinner.

"You can't drive these cars on top of each other," Earnhardt said abruptly. "If there's someone in between us, you can't drive through people."

So Richard Childress Racing will have to 'settle' for second and fourth. Two top-five finishes in the season's biggest race isn't too shabby, especially when it means two chances at the Winston "No Bull 5" bonus again in the next race in the program -- the Las Vegas 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7.

It could be a big payday for one of the teams, but the way Earnhardt sees it, Sunday wasn't a bad day for the people in the stands and watching on TV.

"They got their money's worth today," he said.

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Mike Skinner
Teams Richard Childress Racing