NASCAR »

Dale Earnhardt Is Inducted

Earnhart goes into the Hall of Fame
No driver before or since has aroused unbridled passion in fans of NASCR racing the way Dale Earnhardt did.

If you were an Earnhardt fan, the Intimidator was your sole focus. Your emotions rose and fell with his changing fortunes on the racetrack.

If you weren't a fan, the depth of your outrage was boundless when he punted your favorite driver into the wall on the way to one of his 76 Sprint Cup victories.

There was no middle ground, and that's also the way it was with Earnhardt—a man who fashioned his legacy in racing with uncompromising determination and honesty.

"What Dale showed future generations of drivers is to be yourself, because he was always the same whether he was around friends, being interviewed or in the racecar," said FOX and Speed analyst Larry McReynolds, who enjoyed a stint as Earnhardt's crew chief at Richard Childress Racing in the late 1990s. "You never had to worry about whether Dale was being honest with you and coming clean.

"When he talked to the media, he wasn't worried about having his sunglasses on, his drink in hand. He took good care of his sponsors, but his interviews were genuine, whether in victory lane, coming out of the infield care center or just after he got flipped upside down with 11 to go in the Daytona 500. You knew Dale spoke from the heart."

Earnhardt's reputation as an aggressive, iron-willed and iron-headed driver is larger than life, but it shouldn't obscure the magnitude of his accomplishments in the sport.

His 76 wins rank seventh on the all-time list behind only Richard Petty (200), David Pearson (105), Darrell Waltrip (84), Bobby Allison (84), Cale Yarborough (83) and Jeff Gordon (82). What set Earnhardt apart, however, was his championship record.

Teamed with car owner and longtime friend Richard Childress, Earnhardt won his seventh Cup title in 1994—his fourth championship in five seasons—to tie Richard Petty for most all time. Only two other drivers, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, have won as many as four titles.

Our memories of Earnhardt, however, are less a statistical review and more of an impressionistic landscape. Indelible images have endured beyond the last-lap crash that took Earnhardt's life in the 2001 Daytona 500.

McReynolds remembers the 1997 Daytona 500, where he watched in awe from the pit box as Earnhardt barrel-rolled down the backstretch and returned to his car from an ambulance after noting that the wrecked No. 3 Chevrolet was still drivable.

"I don't know of any other driver who would have been sitting in the ambulance, looking out the window at his mangled racecar and then all of a sudden realizing, 'That son-of-a-gun will still roll. That son-of-a-gun will still go.'" McReynolds said. "He hopped out of the ambulance and told the poor track worker to get the hell out of his car, climbed in and drove it to pit road. I don't know of another driver who would have done that, nor one that would do that today."


The Earnhardt file
* Record 7 Cup championships
* 76 Cup wins
* Record 10 Cup wins at Talladega
* Won 27 NASCAR races at Daytona


Tagged as: Dale Earnhardt

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
DALE EARNHARDT
Danica Patrick alongside the #10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing on pit road at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo Credit: NASCAR via Getty Images)
Danica Patrick driving the #10 GoDaddy Breast Cancer Awareness Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, talks with the media following the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finished in 5th position and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmer`s Insurance Chevrolet SS finished in 12th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Newman, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. Kahne, who was also in the Chase, did not advance. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finished in 26th position and Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet SS finished in 13th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Gordon, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished in 9th position Sunday, October 19, 2014 in the final Contender 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. Harvick, who was in the Chase, advances to the Eliminator 8 phase of the Chase which begins next week at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Smithfield Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, are involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Cessna Chevrolet, spin out into the grass during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The crew of Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Crew members work on the Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Halloween Toyota, in the garage area during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, leads the field near the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, races Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates with an American flag after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redd`s Wicked Apple Ale Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 19, 2014 in Talladega, Alabama.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.