Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Earnhardt Gets His `Classic' Wins Brickyard 400; R. Wallace Second

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Earnhardt Gets His `Classic' Wins Brickyard 400; R. Wallace Second

Article excerpt

One down, one to go. Dale Earnhardt, who has struggled for nearly two decades without success to win one of stock car racing's oldest classics, the Daytona 500, needed only two attempts to win its newest classic, the Brickyard 400.

Earnhardt, in a Chevy Monte Carlo, took the lead after his last pit stop with 28 laps to go on Saturday and held off Rusty Wallace, who was second, and a fast-closing Dale Jarrett, each in a Ford Thunderbird, to win the race, which pays the richest purse in stock car racing at $4.5 million.

After dodging raindrops that delayed the race's start for just over four hours, Earnhardt had to dodge Jeff Burton's spinning Ford in Turn 2 on the 132nd of the 160-lap race. That brought out the race's only yellow flag, and when the green came back out with 25 laps to go, Earnhardt, who started 13th and struggled in the opening laps, had enough to hold off Wallace and Jarrett.

Jeff Gordon, the pole-sitter, could not overcome a mistake on his last pit stop and finished sixth, behind Bill Elliott in fourth and Mark Martin in fifth.

The race, which had only four yellow-flag laps, was completed in an average speed of 155.218 miles an hour.

Elliott, Gordon, and Marlin shared the lead for most of the first 100 of the 160 laps.

Wallace, a native St. Louisan who started 24th, moved up steadily, reaching the top 10 by the 30th lap and getting into the lead pack after his second pit stop.

Earnhardt ran slowly after the green flag fell, but his crew remedied whatever handling problem his Chevy Monte Carlo had, and he quickly got into the lead group.

As things shook out, the contenders were obvious: Wallace, Earnhardt, Elliott (who is in his first year with his own team), Gordon, and Sterling Marlin.

Pit stops became even more crucial, as the race ran without a yellow flag for the first 132 laps. Wallace benefited from his usual fast pit work. …

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