TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Dale Earnhardt used his wealth of racing savvy to score a victory on "Super Saturday" at Talladega Superspeedway. Earnhardt jacked, jived and ended up winning Round Three of the True Value Dodge International Race of...
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Dale Earnhardt used his wealth of racing savvy to score a victory on "Super Saturday" at Talladega Superspeedway.
Earnhardt jacked, jived and ended up winning Round Three of the True Value Dodge International Race of Champions by a scant half car length over defending race winner Steve Kinser, in a nine- car blanket finish. It was the second IROC victory of the year for Earnhardt, who assumed the IROC point lead. He called it "one of the most exciting finishes I've ever been involved in."
IROC FINISH: 1. Dale Earnhardt (38 laps, 101 miles in 32 minutes, 21 seconds; avg. speed 187.474 mph; margin of victory 1/2 car length; 13 lead changes among 6 drivers); 2. Steve Kinser; 3. Mark Martin; 4. Scott Pruett; 5. Jeff Gordon; 6. Tom Kendall; 7. Ken Schrader; 8. Ricky Rudd; 9. Rusty Wallace; 10. Steve Millen; 11. Hurley Haywood; 12. Al Unser Jr. (DNS).
POINTS: 1. Earnhardt 57, 2. Martin 47, 3. Pruett 41, 4. Schrader 38, 5. Gordon 37, 6. Kinser, 7. Kendall, 8. Rudd, 9. Wallace 21, 10. Millen 17, 11. Haywood 16, Unser Jr. 16.
Finale: July 29, Michigan International Speedway.
ROUND THREE TRUE VALUE DODGE IROC XIX POST-RACE NOTES
DALE EARNHARDT (#2 Tan, NASCAR Winston Cup) -- It was a great race. It was one of the better, if not the best, IROC race I've been in as far as competition and side-by-side racing. It was pretty much like that all day long. I believe that was Talladega racing at its best when it comes to cars racing side-by side. It could have been anybody's race there in the top five or six.
I don't know where Steve Kinser came from, but he wasn't in that line when we went onto the backstraight. He came from the back and ended up second. What helped me was that when I started making a move on Gordon on the back straightaway, he moved down. I went up and got to the outside of him and then Scott Pruett went to the bottom and it was a three-wide race. Mark Martin had his momentum up coming up on the outside and he jammed up on me. We went into the corner (turn three) and Pruett came up from the bottom and jammed in front of me. Then, Gordon went to the bottom of him and it was a three-way race coming off turn four. That was an exciting time. I didn't know who was going to drop down out from behind me and get behind them. Fortunately we all pretty much stayed in line. Then, here comes Kinser on the short chute. Now we're three-abreast through the trioval. Mark Martin on the outside line helped me draft back by Kinser for the lead and to win the race.
It was an all-out free-for-all in the drafting game. It might not learn you much for tomorrow's race as far as chassis goes, but it sure taught me a lot about working with the draft and sort of tuning up for tomorrow's race.
STEVE KINSER (#7 Orange, Short Track) -- I thought I won the race. It looked a lot closer than one or two or three feet. It was that close. These guys are just that good. I caught them with a little run and was able to make up a lot in those last races.
MARK MARTIN (#1 Mustard, NASCAR Winston Cup) -- It was quite a finish. I didn't run as good as I wanted to and didn't do as good a job as I wanted to. We'll take what we can get and go win it (the series) at Michigan.
SCOTT PRUETT (#3 Pink, Road Racing) -- I'm not sure where we ended up. We chased them around all day and did the best we could. When it came down to the end, I ran out of experience -- drafting and tactics -- with these guys.
JEFF GORDON (#5 Dark Blue, NASCAR Winston Cup) -- I screwed up on the backstraight. I don't think I've ever screwed up so bad in my life. I let him (Earnhardt) get down beside me. Earnhardt is the best at blocking. He's also the best at getting by on the last lap. I let him slip to the outside of me and I wish I hadn't done what I did. I'm learning a lot in this series, that's for sure. It was a great race.
TOM KENDALL (#6 Teal, Road Racing) -- I have no idea where I was. I think if there was one more lap I would have been in good shape. It was wild out there. I've had three IROC finishes like that. It's very hard to plan on what you can do on the last lap. I learned a lot today. It was an education.
KEN SCHRADER (#4 Light Blue, NASCAR Winston Cup) -- We got all shuffled out. I couldn't get anyone to go with me low. It was a helluva race. Everyone was protecting themselves on the high side. We were a close seventh. It was just a couple of car lengths between all of us.
RICKY RUDD (#8 Yellow, NASCAR Winston Cup) -- I don't know -- that last lap was kind of a wild one! It (the pack) got in an awful big jam-up and I don't think I was at the head of the jam-up where I needed to be. I was somewhere in the middle I guess. It was good racing though. I saw that after everybody's tires got heated up they couldn't handle quite as good so the passing sort of calmed down. I'd want to go to the bottom to try to pull out and pass but nobody would go with me. I wasn't where I wanted to be in line. I was about fifth or sixth in line and that's not where I wanted to be. When all the passing quit, I wanted to be sitting about second or third. Every time I tried to go forward I went backward, so I figured the only thing I could do was wait until the last lap to see what would unfold. I saw 'em get jammed-up and I went to the bottom. In hindsight it looks like I would've gone back to the top, I guess.
RUSTY WALLACE (#9 Medium Blue, NASCAR Winston Cup) -- That's exactly what I was doing -- sitting there for about 15 laps and waiting on the last lap. I didn't drive a good race today. I just drove too conservative. Too conservative. I should've drove just a little more aggressive. I guess it turned out OK...I don't know where I finished. One more race (at Michigan Int'l Speedway) and it's all over. My car was pretty good. It just got a little loose on me on the entry. If I tried to shoot to the top of the race track it would get loose on me. It wasn't bad. I had a good car, but I don't feel like I drove it good.
STEVE MILLEN (#12 Lime, Road Racing) -- I really enjoyed it but it's so easy to get hung out! I got hung out right at the end there and I lost the draft. Up until then it had been great. I was up in the draft the whole time. I'd like to do a lot more of these things and really get used to this draft. It was a very big learning day and I feel pleased about it.
HURLEY HAYWOOD (#11 Powder Blue, Road Racing) -- Whewww! I don't know what happened to the race car (shaking his head). I got sort of snookered on the shuffling. All of a sudden I found myself all by myself and I just kept dropping back and back and back. There's not much you can do once you lose the draft. The motor just sounded and felt weak to me and I couldn't keep up. I didn't miss it by that much. I was the last car in the line just ahead of Steve (Millen) and I never could catch back up again. It just got worse and worse every lap.