DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dale Earnhardt, the seven-time Winston Cup champion, was wearing a bright red shirt. Dale Jarrett, the man who had beaten him to the finish line in the 1993 Daytona 500 and the man who beat him to the No. 1 starting position for next Sunday's Daytona 500, wore plum.
Together, they make quite a sight. Earnhardt in his silver reflective shades. Jarrett in brown reflective shades.
They look like they're on the road to Hollywood. Yesterday, they took center stage in this annual roadshow called the Daytona 500.
"The last time we were this close together, you won," said Earnhardt. "And I guess for right now, you're Dale No. 1 and I'm Dale No. 2. At least that's what we'll start with."
It's the Dale and Dale Show again here at Daytona International Speedway, following yesterday's pole-day qualifying in which Jarrett won the No. 1 starting position by taking his Texaco/Havoline Ford around this 2.5-mile tri-oval at 193.494 mph.
Earnhardt will start beside him on the front row, after whipping off 193.449 mph in his GM Goodwrench Chevrolet.
The rest of the field will have to earn their starting spots in Thursday's Twin 125-mile qualifying races.
"It was pretty nerve wracking, waiting for Dale to run," said Jarrett, who had to wait nearly an hour and a half. "We knew Dale hadn't shown his hand all week. And there we were waiting, knowing the wind would die down later in the afternoon and that the track would cool off to make better conditions.
rTC "It was quite a thrill when it was finally over."
It was Jarrett's first Winston Cup pole. But, in truth, it was more than that.
In 1993 when he won here and last year, when his team struggled, Jarrett was driving for former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs. This year, he is driving for the Robert Yates-owned team, and it was Jarrett's first real test for the team that has been hit with so much misfortune and sorrow over the past two years.
Two years ago, the Havoline team suffered the loss of its driver, Davey Allison, who died in a helicopter crash. Last August, while leading the Winston Cup points race, the team endured the life-threatening crash at Michigan that has sidelined Ernie Irvan indefinitely with a head injury.
"I don't feel I have anything to prove being in this car," said Jarrett. "But I wanted to run well here. Not so much for me, but for this team. It's been through so much sadness. They needed a pick-me-up and I wanted to do it for them."
The Yates team did need a confidence builder. As Yates walked to the garage yesterday morning, he noticed there weren't a lot ** of Fords. In his mind, his No. 28 looked awfully lonely. And his crew chief Larry McReynolds wore a worried frown.
"I was very concerned about Earnhardt," said McReynolds. "I had watched him run some pretty awesome laps, and it looked to me like he would run as fast as he wanted to."
Here at Daytona, in the 500, Earnhardt could use a little pick-me-up too. The seven-time champion has dominated every other event he has ever been in here -- including tomorrow's Busch Clash all-star race for last season's pole winners.
In fact, Earnhardt has won the Clash five times. But he has never won the 500, the race considered the Winston Cup's Super Bowl.
DAYTONA 500 QUALIFYING
1. Dale Jarrett, Ford Thunderbird, 193.494; 2. Dale Earnhardt, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 193.449; 3. Sterling Marlin, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 193.349; 4. Robert Pressley, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 193.050; 5. Terry Labonte, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 192.872; 6. Bobby Labonte, Ford Thunderbird, 192.550; 7. Michael Waltrip, Pontiac Grand Prix, 192.152; 8. Lake Speed, Ford Thunderbird, 192.020; 9. Darrell Waltrip, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 191.947; 10. Phil Parsons, Ford Thunderbird, 191.824;
11. Kyle Petty, Pontiac Grand Prix, 191.755; 12. Morgan Shepherd, Ford Thunderbird, 191.701; 13. Davy Jones, Ford Thunderbird, 191.546; 14. Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 191.400; 15. Rusty Wallace, Ford Thunderbird, 191.388; 16. Mark Martin, Ford Thunderbird, 191.306; 17. Jeff Purvis, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 191.156; 18. Todd Bodine, Ford Thunderbird, 191.140; 19. Ken Schrader, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 190.994; 20. Bill Elliott, Ford Thunderbird, 190.860;
21. Steve Grissom, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 190.589; 22. Ricky Rudd, Ford Thunderbird, 190.517; 23. Mike Wallace, Ford Thunderbird, 190.335; 24. Ted Musgrave, Ford Thunderbird, ,X 190.303; 25. Dick Trickle, Ford Thunderbird, 190.118; 26. Dave Marcis, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 190.078; 27. Derrike Cope, Ford Thunderbird, 190.090; 28. John Andretti, Ford Thunderbird, 190.010; 29. Bobby Hillin Jr., Ford Thunderbird, 189.966; 30. Ricky Craven, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 189.813;
31. Ritchie Petty, Ford Thunderbird, 189.805; 32. Randy LaJoie, Pontiac Grand Prix, 189.753; 33. Loy Allen Jr., Ford Thunderbird, 189.386; 34. Geoff Bodine, Ford Thunderbird, 189.310; 35. Jeff Burton, Ford Thunderbird, 188.972; 36. Jeremy Mayfield, Ford Thunderbird, 188.953; 37. Joe Ruttman, Ford Thunderbird, 188.953; 38. Jimmy Spencer, Ford Thunderbird, 188.620; 39. Phil Barkdoll, Ford Thunderbird, 188.608; 40. Ward Burton, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 188.482;
41. Bobby Hamilton, Pontiac Grand Prix, 188.450; 42. Ben Hess, Ford Thunderbird, 188.407; 43. Joe Nemechek, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 187.974; 44. Kenny Wallace, Ford Thunderbird, 187.891; 45. Chad Little, Ford Thunderbird, 187.774; 46. Steve Kinser, Ford Thunderbird, 187.688; 47. Billy Standridge, Ford Thunderbird, 187.609; 48. Shawna Robinson, Ford Thunderbird, 187.453; 49. Jim Sauter, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 187.414; 50. Kerry Teague, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 186.994;
51. Jerry O'Neil, Chevrolet Lumina, 186.745; 52. Randy McDonald, Pontiac Grand Prix, 186.714; 53. Gary Bradberry, Ford Thunderbird, 186.699; 54. Greg Sacks, Pontiac Grand Prix, 186.641; 55. Rick Mast, Ford Thunderbird, 186.023; 56. Mike Chase, Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 185.705; 57. Ken Bouchard, Ford Thunderbird, 179.608.