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NASCAR WCUP: Dale Earnhardt, Tony Stewart hospitalized; Michael Waltirp wins Daytona

By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
Dale Earnhardt
DAYTONA BEACH, FL: Dale Earnhardt crashed on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. The seven time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion was unconscious when rescue workers arrived at the scene. Earnhardt was fighting for third place when the crash occurred. He had to be cut from his race car.

As Earnhardt was chasing two of the cars he owned (Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) to the checkered flag, he made contact with Sterling Marlin in turn four at Daytona. When the cars touched, Earnhardt was turned hard to the right and had head-on impact with the wall. Ken Schrader had nowhere to go and also hit Earnhardt in the passenger side as he went into the wall. Schrader was uninjured. Marlin also was able to continue in the race.

Michael Waltrip went on to win his first NASCAR Winston Cup race, the Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt Jr followed him across the finish line. The younger Earnhardt accompanied his father to the hospital.

Tony Stewart was also injured in an earlier accident. He was driving one of 21 cars involved in a lap 174 crash. Stewart became airborne and flipped several times down the backstretch. Stewart complained of shoulder pain after regaining consciousness. Stewart was later diagnosed with a dislocated shoulder.

More details to follow.

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