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NASCAR WCUP: Dale Earnhardt in Serious Condition after Daytona Crash

By Terry Callahan
Motorsports Editor, The Auto Channel
Dale Earnhardt
DAYTONA BEACH FL: Dale Earnhardt is listed in serious condition at Halifax Hospital in Daytona after crashing on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. The seven time Winston Cup Champion had to be cut from his car. His son, who finished in second place behind winner Michael Waltrip, accompanied Earnhardt to the hospital.

The crash occurred as Earnhardt was fighting for third place when he and Sterling Marlin made contact between turns three and four at the famed 2.5 mile tri-oval. The contact caused Earnhardt to lose control, sending him head on into the outside wall in turn four. Ken Schrader also hit Earnhardt as he slammed the wall.

"We were three deep and he hit me," Marlin said. "Then he turned around."

Earnhardt is the most successful active driver in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series with 76 victories. He was challenging for his second Daytona 500 win Sunday. He won the Daytona 500 for the first time in 1998 after twenty tries.

Earnhardt Sr. owns both cars driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip. A third car owned by Earnhardt, driven by Steve Park, was also a contender in the race before being caught up in a 20 car crash on lap 174.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. sprinted to the infield care center to be with his father. Michael Waltrip was not immediately aware that is car owner had been seriously injured in the crash.

More details to follow.

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