Earnhardt wins Daytona IROC


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dale Earnhardt started first and finished in victory lane yesterday after another entertaining afternoon of racing in the International Race of Champions.

The Dodge Avengers looked like brightly colored marbles as they rolled around Daytona International Speedway.

Earnhardt's lime green machine beat Al Unser Jr.'s red one to the finish line by half a car length.

Rusty Wallace, who led the most laps (14), finished sixth, behind Dale Jarrett, Mark Martin and Kyle Petty.

"Everybody was competitive," said Earnhardt, who got shuffled as far back as fifth before regaining the lead with three laps left. "The cars drafted well, and things went well."

NASCAR drivers took six of the top seven spots, but no one seemed to have more fun than road racer Jack Baldwin, who blew a tire, lost a lap, regained it and lost it again before finishing 10th in the 12-car field.

"It doesn't matter if you're near the back in this race," he said. "In some races, you might look at the run down and feel bad to be at the back. But when you wind up behind Earnhardt, Unser, and everyone else, you still feel you've done something."

The next event in the IROC series will be in Darlington March 26.

This was Earnhardt's fourth IROC victory.

Goodyears all around

When rookie Loy Allen Jr. the pole-sitter for tomorrow's Daytona 500, agreed to switch to Goodyear tires, it completed a switch by drivers who had intended to compete on Hoosier tires here.

The entire 42-car field will run on Goodyears.

"We never had any problems with our Hoosier tires," said Allen, who had handling problems during the 125-mile qualifying races Thursday. "But meeting with other drivers, everyone else made the decision to go with Goodyears, and basically, the other drivers made me aware that they would not give me any drafting assistance if I stuck with the Hoosiers. They especially didn't want to draft behind me."

While everyone has been careful not to blame the Hoosier tires for the racing deaths here of Neil Bonnett and Rodney Orr, everyone has made it equally clear that they were nervous about competing against cars on those tires because most of the teams were unable to make their cars handle properly.

"The problem with the tires," said Darrell Waltrip, who is under contract with Hoosier for the rest of the season, "is that they are too conservative. They don't wear. They don't hook up with the race track."

Taking a dip

Florida 200 driver Dave Stacy from Enon, Ohio, was involved in a multi-car crash in turn two, and his car rolled into Lake Lloyd, the 44-acre infield lake. Fortunately for him, he landed right-side up and did not sustain any injury.

"This isn't the kind of splash I wanted to make at Daytona," said

Stacy. "I did get a fishing card for the lake. I really don't know what happened. I got tapped from behind, the car spun and I was in the lake."

Stacy was the third driver to take a dip during competition here. Tommy Irwin did it in the 1960 twin qualifying race, and Bay Barnell in an ARCA qualifying race in 1964.

And the winner is

Pole-sitter Mike Swaim in the Massey Chrysler/Plymouth Dodge won the Florida 200 Goody's Dash series race, averaging 104.621 mph.

Robert Huffman, driving the car of Orr, who was killed while practicing for his first Daytona 500 on Monday, finished second, .51 of a second behind.

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