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The Callahan Report: Earnhardt Tops $30 Million Despite Bad Luck Streak

31 July 1997

INDIANAPOLIS: We've been hearing it for months. Dale Earnhardt hasn't won a race in __ (fill in the blank) races. Take a look at the roster of drivers running the Winston Cup circuit. The majority of the drivers are on a losing streak far worse than that of the seven time series champion. Despite Earnhardt's bad luck, he became the first driver in the history of the sport to top the 30 million dollar mark in career earnings. He achieved the milestone at the conclusion of his last event, The International Race Of Champions (IROC).

At the Brickyard, Earnhardt has already been to victory lane in the short three race history of the event. Earnhardt, teamed with Richard Childress Racing, won the 1995 Brickyard 400. He did it in record time. He charged from the 13th position for his first Indianapolis victory.

Last year was the hardest year here for Earnhardt. With a broken collar bone and sternum from a crash the previous Sunday, Dale qualified 12th for the 1996 Brickyard event. After only six laps of green flag racing, a caution came out. Earnhardt took a long drive down the pit road and climbed from the car in severe pain. Mike Skinner (now Earnhardt's teammate) climbed in for Earnhardt and finished in 15th spot.

[ Dale Earnhardt
] Dale Earnhardt

"It would be great to leave Indy as the only two time winner," Remarked Earnhardt. "With broken bones last year, we never had a chance to try to get back-to-back wins, this will be our year to come back and get into victory lane. Larry and the guys have done their home work and I feel we are more than ready to make a run at it."

Earnhardt continued, "Last year we came here injured and couldn't give 100% effort. It took a lot for me to get out of that race car, probably one of the toughest things I've had to do in my racing career." In fact, Earnhardt refused interviews he was so emotional after getting out of his "Intimidator" machine.

Earnhardt tested here extensively. Although Earnhardt's practice speed was only 18th fastest yesterday (175.261 MPH), he will be tough as always on race day. "We had some really good test sessions this month," said car owner Childress. "Larry (McReynolds) has sone a great job getting this team prepared for the races. We've had enough time to look back and see what we'll need to bring back with us this week. Our chances of returning to victory lane are very good."

Consider the similarities of the last race track (Pocono) and Indy. Both are flat and driven pretty much the same. Earnhardt finished second at Pocono. The losing streak ticker may be reset to zero this weekend.

Terry Callahan -- The Auto Channel