Earnhardt wins IROC after bumping Unser DAYTONA NOTEBOOK

THE BALTIMORE SUN

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dale Earnhardt did it again. He won at Daytona International Speedway, and he did it in the bump-and-grind style for which he's famous.

It was the last lap of the Daytona IROC, the opener of the 1995 International Race of Champions series, and Al Unser Jr. was in front as the IROC cars headed down the backstretch. Unser was moving up and down the track, trying to keep Earnhardt and the other nine cars that were still on the track behind him.

It was a total waste of time and equipment.

Earnhardt tried to outguess Unser as the two sped toward Turn 3 and was committed to a high path when Unser came up the track.

"I stayed up and he went down and up and my front end was up beside his quarterpanel when we touched," Earnhardt said. "I hate it happened, but he ought to know all those cars behind him were coming at a speed where you can't stop.

"If he feels I did it on purpose, he has three races left to get me back."

Unser wouldn't say Earnhardt did it on purpose, choosing to call it a learning experience.

"I got too far ahead in Turn 1 and I knew it was going to bite me in Turn 3," he said. "I was trying to block Dale. I ran into the same thing last year, except Dale blocked me. Last year I lifted [off the gas]. This year, Dale didn't. It was one of those racing deals. I was trying too hard to win. It's another lesson at Daytona."

Earnhardt averaged 180.723 mph and won by two car lengths over Pruett. Unser was 10th.

Maryland shines

Donnie Neuenberger of Bowie and Barry Fitzgerald of Westminster were outnumbered, 40-2, as the only two drivers from Maryland in the Florida 200. But unlike 22 of those who started, both were on the track running when the checkered flag flew.

Neuenberger, a three-year veteran, finished ninth in his DGN Racing Chevrolet. After starting 29th, he took home $2,690. Fitzgerald, a rookie who started 40th in the Vass&Hastings; Chevrolet, was also all smiles after his 26th-place finish that earned $1,430.

"We had trouble from Day 1 coming here," said Neuenberger. "The motors gave us trouble, but last night GM Motorsports put another motor init and we felt confident after running it six laps. We ran a higher gear, so we couldn't draft with those big boys, so we just tried to hold on, stay out of trouble and do the best we could."

Larry Caudill, in his Husqvarna Dodge, won the race with an average speed of 130.222 mph. He had a .10-second margin of victory over George Crenshaw in a Pontiac.

A blowout on Lap 8 caused Fitzgerald to fall 28 laps behind, as the crew worked to tape up the damage, rework some sheet metal and change the tire.

TOP FINISHERS Florida 200 1. Larry Caudill, North Wilkesboro, N.C., Dodge, 80 laps completed, $12,000, 130.222 mph. 2. George Crenshaw, Lakeland, Fla., Pontiac, 80 laps, $8,000. 3. B.J. Mackey, Rock Hill, S.C., Chevrolet, 80 laps, $6,040. 4. Lyndon Amick, Batesburg, S.C., Pontiac, 80 laps, $4,640. 5. Robert Huffman, Clearmont, N.C., Pontiac, 80 laps, $3,940.

Daytona IROC 1. Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR Winston Cup, 40 laps, 180.723 mph. 2. Scott Pruett, IndyCar PPG Cup, 40 laps. 3. Ken Schrader, NASCAR Winston Cup, 40 laps. 4. Ricky Rudd, NASCAR Winston Cup, 40 laps. 5. Rusty Wallace, NASCAR Winston Cup, 40 laps.

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