DALE EARNART 1951 - 2001

DALE EARNHART LOST HIS LIFE AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY YESTERDAY ON THE LAST LAP DASH TO THE CHECKER'S WITH EARNHART'S STABLE RUNNING 1, 2 & 3. WITH 3 TO GO STERLING, (IN 4TH), GOT INTO THE BACK OF EARNHART. WITH 2 TO GO, DALE WAS RUNNING ALONG SIDE OF MARLIN AND THEN KENNY SCHRADER GOT A RUN ON THE OUTSIDE. WITH EARNHART IN THE MIDDLE SLOWING THE FIELD, MICHAEL WALTRIP & DALE JR. GOT AWAY. DALE PUT HIS SON AND MICHAEL WALTRIP IN A POSITION TO WIN THE DAYTONA 500, WITH HIM RIDING SHOTGUN. HE NEVER SAW THEM CROSS THE FINISH LINE.

EARNHART DROPPED BACK INTO THE CLUTCHES OF STERLING, SCHRADER, & THE REST OF THE PACK HOWLING LIKE WOLVES AT HIS HEELS. THE 40 & 36 CARS WERE BOTH HUNGRY COMPETITOR'S. STERLING FOR DODGE'S RETURN TO NASCAR, & CHIP GANASSI, AND SCHRADER FOR HIS FIRST WIN IN TEN YEARS.

AS A RESULT, DALE PAID THE ULTIMATE PRICE WITH HIS LIFE. THEY WENT INTO THE FINAL TURNS 3 WIDE AND INCHES APART, AND THEN THEY RAN OUT OF ROOM. STERLING TAPPED THE 3 CAR IN THE LEFT REAR EVER SO SLIGHTLY, AND EARNHART STARTED SPINNING TOWARDS THE INFIELD. HE WORKED THE WHEEL HARD TO HANG ON BUT WHEN THE LEFT SIDES CAUGHT THE APRON, THE 3 CAR HEAD STRAIGHT UP TOWARDS THE WALL. THE IMPACT WAS NEARLY HEAD ON AT 180 MPH AND DALE DIED INSTANTLY UPON IMPACT.

EARNHART SPOKE OUT FREELY AGAINST THE RESTRICTOR PLATE RACING GAME FOR YEARS. I CAN QUOTE HIM FROM MEMORY "THAT AIN'T RACING". EARNHART MANAGED TO HOLD OFF THE DODGE'S, THE FORDS, AND THE REST OF THE CHEVY'S, HE MADE SURE THAT MICHAEL WALTRIP WON HIS FIRST RACE IN 463 ATTEMPTS, OVER A CAREER SPAN OF 15 YEARS.

DALE JUNIOR RAN IN FRONT OF HIS FATHER AND PUSHED THE 15 CAR TO THE FLAG, FINISHING SECOND.THE REST OF THE PACK WAS RUNNING THREE AND FIVE WIDE, BUT MANY OF THEM WERE WOUNDED FROM THE BIG 19 CAR CRASH THAT RED FLAGGED THE RACE AT LAP 176, SENDING TONY STEWART TO THE HOSPITAL. TONY WAS OK, BUT THAT WAS THE WRECK THAT YOU EXPECTED SOMETHING BAD TO HAPPEN. MAYBE THE MUCH SLOWER, WOUNDED CARS SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN ALLOWED BACK ON THE TRACK AT THE END OF THE RACE.

I PERSONALLY THINK THAT MAY HAVE BEEN A FACTOR. I WON'T PASS JUDGEMENT ON IT IMMEDIATELY THOUGH, AS I'D RATHER SEE THE TAPE OF THE LAST 20 LAPS 3 OR 4 MORE TIMES FIRST. I WILL HOWEVER, DECIDE LATER WHAT I THINK ABOUT THAT, BUT THEN IT WON'T REALLY MATTER THOUGH WILL IT? DALE IS GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN, AND THAT'S ALL THAT REALLY MATTERS RIGHT?

DALE EARNHART WAS A DIE-HARD RACER THAT INSISTED ON WINNING. COMING SECOND, WAS NOT AN OPTION. IF HE COULDN'T WIN, HE HAD LOST. AND THAT WAS THAT. HE TANGLED WITH THE WALL MANY, MANY TIMES IN HIS CAREER, AS YOU CAN SEE IN THIS FILE PHOTO, BUT ALWAYS MANAGED TO PREVAIL. THEN HE WORKED ON ANOTHER PLAN. HE CHOSE TO SEND A COUPLE OF DRIVERS TO THE FRONT. HIS SON DALE JR, TO TAKE HIS PLACE AT THE TOP OF THE NASCAR CIRCUIT, AND MICHAEL WALTRIP, WHO HAD BEEN TRYING TO CATCH THE DREAM FOR 15 YEARS. THEY MOVED ON... AND DALE ENDED AN AMAZING CAREER.

DALE EARNHART IS NOT GONE IN THE HEART OF THE FAN'S... HE'S NOT GONE IN THE HEART OF LITTLE E, MICHAEL WALTRIP, OR THE REST OF THE NASCAR COMMUNITY... HE'S JUST GONE... AND THAT IS NOT A GOOD THING FOR NASCAR... RACING... OR ANYTHING ELSE...

LESSTUNA