April 24, 1999 EARNHARDT MAKES IT TWO FOR TWO IN IROC AT TALLADEGA Talladega, Al - Dale Earnhardt won race two of the 1999 True Value International Race of Champions here at the...
April 24, 1999
EARNHARDT MAKES IT TWO FOR TWO IN IROC AT TALLADEGA
Talladega, Al - Dale Earnhardt won race two of the 1999 True Value International Race of Champions here at the Talladega Superspeedway. Earnhardt took the high groove through the tri-oval to overtake Rusty Wallace at the stripe. Rusty had been in command from lap 23 of the 38-lap event when Earnhardt made the move that won the race. "It feels great to be here and answering questions about winning," said Dale Earnhardt in the Talladega Media Center. "The cars are so equal, Jay Signore and the crew do a great job, they're the best they've been here," he continued.
Of his second place finish Rusty Wallace said, "heck of a race. I thought I had it won, but he got me right there at the end. It was a great move on his part, he's the master at that stuff."
Earnhardt has led a total of two laps so far this year in IROC- the last lap at Daytona and the last lap today. Earnhardt won the Daytona IROC race in February with a daring, last-chance move on the bottom of the track passing Mark Martin. "There is only one lap you have to lead in any race-the last one," said Earnhardt.
Defending, four-time, IROC Champ Mark Martin finished third followed by Winston Cup Champion Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Pep Boys Indy Racing League Champion Kenny Brack in fifth. FedEx Championship driver Adrian Fernandez took sixth followed by NASCAR's Bobby Labonte in seventh. Eighth went to Indy 500 Champion, Eddie Cheever Jr. with FedEx Champ series driver Greg Moore finishing ninth. Dale Jarrett took 10th followed by Jeff Burton in 11th, both of NASCAR's Winston Cup Series. NASCAR Busch Grand National Champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. placed 12th.
The 1999 True Value International Race of Champions series once again challenges twelve of the world's best drivers to compete against each other in a four race series. The IROC racecars are as equal as humanly possible. All IROC racecars are equipped with Goodyear Eagle radial tires and specially finished with brilliant DuPont ChromaSystemÔ colors. The drivers are awarded points for each race. At the end of the fourth race the points are tallied and an IROC Champion is crowned. IROC XXIII will reward its champion with $225, 000 from the $760,000 purse.
IROC returned to the 2.66 mile, high-banked Talladega Superspeedway after a two-year absence making this the 11th appearance for the series. Starting positions for this race were determined by the reverse order of finish of race one.
There were six lead changes among six drivers starting with Jeff Burton who led laps one and two, from the pole, before being overtaken by Dale Jarrett on lap three. Mark Martin took to the lead for two circuits claiming laps four through six. Jeff Gordon took over for lap seven. Only one caution came out at the end of lap seven when the engine blew in Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car, spilling oil on the track. (Caution flag laps do not count in IROC races).
After the re-start, Dale Jarrett led for a second time from lap 8 through lap 22, resulting in Jarrett claiming the five-point bonus for leading most laps. Rusty Wallace went into the lead at lap 23 and held on through lap 37 when Dale Earnhardt became the last leader, winning on the 38th lap.
NASCAR Winston Cup driver, Jeff Burton went two laps down when he had to pit under green due to an electrical problem. The IROC crew determined the problem, made a hasty repair and Burton rejoined the field.
The open wheel drivers held their own and were a definite threat to the NASCAR drivers throughout the day. Kenny Brack of the Pep Boys Indy Racing league teamed up with Dale Earnhardt in a tight draft for several laps, allowing them to catch the lead draft of five cars, which included FedEx Championship series driver Adrian Fernandez. "I had to get on the brakes and lost critical ground when Jeff Burton had his problem and suddenly slowed up, " said Brack of his fifth place finish.
FedEx Championship series driver, Adrian Fernandez was also a victim of Jeff Burton's misfortune. Burton was running second with Fernandez in third. They had agreed, through hand signals, to go together at the 'two lap to go' mark. "I got the O.K. sign, but the ignition went out and he went all the way to the back because he was stuck behind me," said Jeff Burton.
"I'm disappointed, but the guys with IROC do all they can do and it's a rare occasion that they have any kind of failure. I'm just honored to be in this series and thankful I've been chosen to compete. It's a shame we're having such tough luck, but it's a lot of fun to get out there and race with these guys," said Dale Earnhardt Jr. regarding his engine problem.
Jeff Gordon said, "Great Race. The cars were the best they've ever been. We had a good clean, safe race. There was a little bit of bumping going on out there, but that's going to happen with the way these cars draft. We were just trying to make up a few positions there at the end because I got shuffled back at the wrong time and I was afraid I was going to end up back there."
In winning this race, Dale Earnhardt earned his ninth IROC win, putting him second to Al Unser Jr. (11 wins) on the overall IROC win list.
The True Value IROC race from Talladega was broadcast live on ESPN.
IROC will continue with race three on June 11th at Michigan Speedway and will conclude on August 6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
IROC is sponsored by True Value Hardware Stores, Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., and DuPont Automotive Refinishes.