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11th NASCAR Busch Win!
Gateway International Raceway - July 31st, 1999
Dale Jr. and the ACDelco Team win the the Gateway 250!
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Madison, IL - Earnhardt started in the 18th position among a field of 43 cars, he moved up quickly picking up 11 spots in 20 laps on the 1.25-mile oval, the young driver used a great deal of patience moving toward the front. Dale Jr was a little more aggressive when he caught and passed the leader Jeff Green to pick up 5 valuable bonus points, then he went back to a more patient style of driving.

There were many lead changes throughout the race but it was Earnhardt who played his cards right, he charged around Winston Cup regular Joe Nemechek with 45 laps remaining in the 200-lap race, Randy Lajoie moved to second place and seemed to be closing in on the #3 ACDelco Monte Carlo, the handling went away on Lajoie's car securing the victory for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

He flashed under the checkered flag 68-hundredths of a second ahead of LaJoie. Nemechek took third. Pole sitter Casey Atwood finished seventh after dominating in the early stages of the race.

"I was almost going to be a little too conservative, and I was afraid of that," Earnhardt said. "I knew he was coming, and I didn't know if we had the stuff to hold him off."

"I ran the thing pretty hard getting to him," said LaJoie, who started 27th in the No. 1 Bob Evans Chevrolet. "I got to him, and I thought I might be able to give him a little bump. I just used too much chasing him. But it was a good day."

"I used the right front (tire) up pretty hard. I was hoping he'd slip up," LaJoie said. "Any time you can be in the same ZIP code with that 3 car, you're doing pretty good."

"Randy's one of the roughest competitors we have in the Busch Series," Earnhardt said. "He's hard to beat. I knew he was coming, and I didn't know whether we had the stuff to hold him off. I saw his car kind of going away there at the end, and I just tried to stay consistent and smooth. It paid off."

"We didn't have the quickest car on the sheet, statistically, all weekend," Earnhardt said. "Maybe unconsciously, we had the wool kind of over everybody's eyes there -- maybe even our own."

Earnhardt's crew chief, Tony Eury, said he didn't make any major adjustments to the car to compensate for the evening's drop in temperature.

"We set our car up a little bit loose this afternoon," Eury said.

Earnhardt averaged 104.227 mph, as six caution periods slowed the field for a total of 30 laps. There were 17 lead changes among Earnhardt, Nemechek, Atwood, Jeff Green and St. Louis native Kenny Wallace, another Winston Cup performer.

This was one of the best Busch Grand National races of the 1999 season.


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