NASCAR News 97-09-03

NASCARFans E-Mail List Here's some more Dale Earnhardt information, some from JT Tunnicliff, quotes also from Charlotte.Com, and from Mike Mulhern, writing for JournalNow: Don Hawk, President of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., took a few moments ...

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Here's some more Dale Earnhardt information, some from JT Tunnicliff, quotes also from Charlotte.Com, and from Mike Mulhern, writing for JournalNow:

Don Hawk, President of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., took a few moments this morning to brief the media on Earnhardt's current status following an overnight hospital stay in Darlington, SC on Sunday.

"He was released from the hospital and he's typical Dale," said Hawk. "He's ready to tackle the world and obviously, by his statements, he's ready to tackle the race track. Before he does that, however, the doctors told him that he needed to get a couple of more tests done."

According the Hawk, Dale and wife Teresa were already on their way to an undisclosed hospital for those tests which he declined to name specifically. "At this point, we're just safe to say that they're going to do some things that they weren't able to do at the McLeod Medical Center. When the tests are completed, two of the finest medical institutions in America are going to take a look at the results. We're going to have more than one opinion, obviously."

``He looks like a porcupine where every imaginable kind of needle has been poked in him,'' Hawk said of Earnhardt, 46, whose father, Ralph, died of heart failure at about the same age. ``They have checked his carbon monoxide levels, his potassium and his magnesium. They checked for food poisoning and even for drugs or other substances in case, God forbid, somebody tried to put something in his food or drink.''

Hawk, who has been associated with the veteran driver for nearly four and a half years, went on to recount the events during Sunday's Mountain Dew Southern 500 which led up to Earnhardt being transported to the hospital. "I started the race like normal with Dale at the race car. He actually nodded off a little before the race. It's not unusual for Dale to doze off before a race or under a red flag condition. So that didn't strike us as completely uncommon. But when we woke him up and he nodded off a second time when we told him to start the engine...right there I sensed something I really hadn't seen ever before in him."

As the #3 GM Goodwrench Service Chevrolet circled the track during the pace laps it began to be clear to Hawk that something was very wrong with the driver. "He only spoke one time and his voice was very unclear," he continued. "It was not the Dale Earnhardt that I knew. Richard sensed the same thing I did and was trying to get my attention to see if we could somehow get another pace lap out of the thing to try to pull Dale in to get him out of the car. But by the time I got to the backstretch (where Dale's pit stall was located) and Richard and I talked about it, it was already too late. They threw the green flag. "The rest you all saw. He touched the wall in a couple of places and circled the track a couple of times and we had next to no communication with him until the second time he went by us on the backstretch. Finally Richard just screamed at him and said, 'Dale, park the car now. Stop the car.' And he (Earnhardt) said, 'I'm sorry. I saw two race tracks.' So the next time by he came in. We took him out of the car. I was holding on to him to take his pulse rate because I know what his pulse rate normally is. It was normal but he was pretty limp. We set him behind the wall, put him on oxygen and took him to the infield care center."

>From there Earnhardt was taken to McLeod Regional Medical Center. "They checked -- I'll slightly exaggerate and say somewhere between a hundred and two hundred different options. So far, everything is negative. That's good news. If there's anything that's bad about it, it's that you don't know what caused it yet. We're trying to get a good answer to that."

When asked whether the seven-time Winston Cup champion was concerned about the situation, Hawk replied, "Obviously there's a concern inside of him because his dad died of a heart attack at a very similar age. But Dale does not live in fear which is why he got back in a race car after Talladega and after Daytona. He doesn't fear. He's concerned though. I've seen that concern only a few times and this is one of those times."

With medical tests still ongoing, Earnhardt's status as far as racing this weekend at Richmond International Raceway is still very much up in the air.

And while Hawk admits that there has been some discussion among Childress and others at RCR about a possible plan of action, he pointed out that they have not yet approached their driver about the issue of a possible replacement. "We are thinking about what if. Richard and I and maybe a few others have talked behind Dale's back. But that's one of those things where if you tug on Superman's cape, you might get whacked. It's a realistic thing that you've got to face. There's just been no one brave enough to discuss that with Dale at this point."

``Our goal is to get him cleared, if he's healthy, to race at Richmond,'' Hawk said.

He said it's possible that no cause can be found.

``We are talking to four or five of the best cardiologists and neurologists in America,'' he said. ``If the best doctors in the world can't find it, you can't stop the guy from living his life.

``If there's any question at all about his ability . . . we're not going to put anybody at risk. The No. 1 thing here is that NASCAR, (Earnhardt's car owner) Richard Childress and Dale Earnhardt have to get a clear doctor's opinion and they all have to agree. We're not going to risk any of the competitors or any of the fans.''

''His doctor says his heart is fine, strong, and he'd put it up against anybody's. Everything was right, his urine was clean, his blood was clean, everything about him was good.''

Something similar happened to Davey Allison several years ago. He collapsed and had to sit out a couple of races.

''But they found out what was wrong with Davey,'' Childress said. ''They had an answer, like the flu, or something, and they could say 'That's what's wrong.' If they told us, 'OK, you've got a viral infection, or a chemical reaction,' then we'd feel good about it. But right now all they can say is, 'We can't find anything. We can't find what flipped the switch.'

''We checked everything from the pre-race drinks he had, just in case anyone had put something in there to knock him out. He and I went back through everything that happened from the time he got up that morning.''

According to Jayski, Kevin Triplett (NASCAR's spokesman) has reportedly told reporters that NASCAR will not clear Dale Earnhardt to drive until they have some medical explanations for what happened Sunday at Darlington. ========== Ford's NASCAR race car of the future, the Taurus, took its first laps Tuesday at Daytona International Speedway, with Rusty Wallace and Bill Elliott taking the wheel of the Penske Racing South-built prototype.

"The Taurus design is great, but everybody knows that when you look at a Richmond car or a Charlotte car, compared to a Daytona car, they look a lot different," Wallace said. "With this one we're looking at a Charlotte or Richmond-type car trying to run at Daytona."

Consequently, the team saw numbers that were not unexpected, especially for the car's first trip around any race track. Wallace said the Taurus' best lap was in the 49.50-second range, not quite 182 mph. They were able to get useful baseline information by using the same engine that Wallace had used to qualify for July's Pepsi 400 at Daytona, when the Busch Pole time was 47.424 seconds, by Mike Skinner in a Chevrolet.

For his part, Elliott was on hand to get his feet wet with the new design, which his team is only in the early stages of preparing, preferring to let NASCAR solidify its aerodynamic standards for the car before it gets too far into building one. Elliott ran only four laps so hadn't had much opportunity to form a solid opinion.

"Until you get stuff in drafting or in race trim, running with other cars, it's hard to tell," Elliott said. "I feel like it'll be a good race car but we just need more track time. What'll really tell the tale is when we go to a track like Atlanta or Michigan. That'll be a definite test. Here, you need downforce but because of the restrictor plates you're not running as hard through the corners until you get other cars around you to help pull you through the corners, and that makes a lot of difference.

"Once Rusty and them gets through their test we'll know a lot more about the car. Any time you get a new piece, until you learn about the car and what it likes and dislikes, you don't know. It takes a lot of testing and that's what I'm worried about we don't have a lot of it. This is Sept. 2 and it's gonna be a short winter to get everything we need to get done." (iRace/Jayski/NASCAR Online) ========== Ron Hornaday will be driving the #91 LJ Racing Pionite Chevy at the Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 in Richmond this weekend. He replaces Greg Sacks at least for this one race, not sure of LJ Racings future plans for a driver(RPM2Nite/Jayski). ========== Richmond International Raceway? Scratch that. Let's change it to Petty International Raceway.

Consider:

* Lee Petty, patriarch of the Petty clan, won here in 1953 the first Winston Cup race ever run at Richmond.

* Lee's son, Richard Petty, The King, won here a record 13 times, the first in 1961.

* Lee's grandson, Kyle Petty, claimed his first Winston Cup win here, in 1986.

* And last week, Lee's great-grandson, Adam Petty, got his first chance to hit the RIR track. He was practicing for NASCAR's Late Model Stock Car race here Nov. 1.

"But I let him run some Winston Cup laps, too," Adam's pop, Kyle, said last weekend at Darlington.It was cool."

And how did Petty, 17, do?

"He did good, for the most part," Kyle said, before adding with a chuckle, "He kind of got spun back into the wall a little bit, but he had never been in one before, and I just wanted to let him run some laps."

The Pettys represent the only family to have had drivers from three generations win on the Winston Cup circuit. And Richmond is the only site where Lee, Richard and Kyle all drove into victory lane.

Kyle doesn't yet know if Adam has the qualities necessary to compete on the Winston Cup circuit, but he does know at least one thing: He'll never try to talk Adam out of at least trying.

"My father never tried to talk me out of it," Kyle said. "I think I take the same approach he took with me, that if you want to do it, go do it. . . . t want to do it, you ain't got no business even trying it. Adam has a strong desire right now to want to try to be a race-car driver, so I'll help him any way I can." (SKIP WOOD, Times-Dispatch)

Mike Irwin (mike@nascarfans.com) NASCAR Fans _______________________________________ NASCAR Fans Website http://www.nascarfans.com

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Rusty Wallace , Adam Petty , Mike Skinner , Kyle Petty , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Richard Petty , Greg Sacks , Lee Petty , Davey Allison
Teams Team Penske