The Intimidator must have a plate in his head-a restrictor plate, that is-for nobody outsmarted and outdrove the competition in the '99 "plate races" quite like Dale Earnhardt. The seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion had yet another fantastic year on the superspeedways with two Second Places at Daytona, a win earlier in the year at Talladega, and a curtain-call victory in the Winston 500.
The weekend, however, did not start out too promising for Earnhardt. After losing a motor during qualifying, the #3 GM Goodwrench Service Plus Chevrolet was forced to start 27th. But he didn't stay there for long. By Lap 8, Earnhardt was already in Third Place and remained in contention all day.
Keeping in front points leader Dale Jarrett for the checkered flag proved to be one of the more difficult obstacles for Earnhardt. "We came down to the end there," Earnhardt later said, "and I wasn't really sure I had a car I could win the race with. I was really amazed I held Jarrett off. It just proves you never give up on your team, you never give up on your car."
Jarrett tightened his grip on the Winston Cup Championship with a solid Second-Place finish. Behind Jarrett was Ricky Rudd, who put the advice-and the motor-he got from his future boss Robert Yates to good use.
"Thanks to everybody from Dale Jarrett's team, Todd Parrott, and everybody on the #28 team," Rudd said. "It went beyond the motor, too. Those guys helped with chassis, helped us with shocks, and Michael McSwaim, our crew chief, worked with those guys."
Ward Burton, Kenny Wallace, Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton, Bobby Hamilton, and Kenny Irwin rounded out the top 10.
Joe Nemechek was at it again. He started on the pole with a blistering 198.311-mph qualifying run, but finished 30th. Michael Waltrip's unfortunate luck continued when, while leading with only 35 laps left, smoke started pouring from the rear of his #7 Phillips Chevrolet, ending his day. Also running up front were Mike Skinner and Kevin Lepage, but late-race shuffling sent them to 13th- and 18th-Place finishes, respectively.
Winston Cup Championship Point Standings Following The Winston 500
|1. Dale Jarrett ||4602 |
|2. Bobby Labonte ||4356 |
|3. Mark Martin ||4283 |
|4. Jeff Gordon ||4168 |
|5. Tony Stewart ||4159 |
|6. Jeff Burton ||4063 |
|7. Dale Earnhardt ||4039 |
|8. Rusty Wallace ||3677 |
|9. Ward Burton ||3507 |
|10. Mike Skinner ||3491 |
Race No. 30
There were 32 lead changes among 16 drivers and three caution flags, for a total of 17 laps.