DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Ray Grimm smiled shyly from under his dark mustache.
Gordon's grin was broader.
"Yeah," he said. "We're on the pole -- if we can stay there [No. 1 throughout the race], we'll be all right. We've got a good car."
If Gordon wins, he, too, earns a $1 million bonus in Winston's No Bull Five program.
Grimm, 46, a Hagerstown, Md., resident, is one of five fans who were treated to trips to Florida, paired with five different drivers for tomorrow's race and given the chance to become millionaires.
Competing against Gordon and Grimm: Dale Jarrett and Charles Fodor, 63, Rockaway Park, N.Y.; Terry Labonte and Ritchie Gregory, 33, Dallas; Jeremy Mayfield and Jennifer McCann, 37, Grand Prairie, Texas; and Jimmy Spencer and Kevin Settle, 31, Sebring, Ohio.
"I've actually always been a Dale Earnhardt fan, but that doesn't mean I won't be a Jeff Gordon fan here," said Grimm, a corrections officer at the Maryland Correctional Training Center near Hagerstown. "I'll be a Jeff Gordon fan all the way Sunday."
Hurricane force crash
Danny Bagwell flipped and flipped an amazing number of times in his Sterling Casino Lines Ford. And as his car twirled through the air in the Goody's Dash Series Discount Auto Parts 200, banging to earth here and there before finally coming to rest, stuff flew -- sheet metal, wheels, the engine. By the time it stopped, it was down to its skeletal frame. Bagwell was inside.
As cameras zoomed in, he could be seen lying there, on the bottom of the Daytona International Speedway's front stretch. He was alive and fumbling for his helmet strap as other cars roared by. Bagwell was finally able to undo the strap. He had to undo it, to be able to squeeze his head and body between the car's roll bar and the asphalt pavement.
The helmet came off, but he continued to struggle, releasing seat belts. Finally, he began to wiggle from under his car. Halfway out, he stopped, exhausted. His arms, which had been holding and using the bars for leverage, dropped to the ground and he laid there, almost motionless. Breathing fast.
Then, with still no one there to help him, he continued his efforts and finally, to a great cheer from the grandstand, pulled himself to his feet. Then helping hands arrived.
He was put in a precautionary neck brace and taken away on a stretcher. He waved a still-shaking hand as he was wheeled into the ambulance and taken to Halifax Hospital for observation. He was released with no reported injuries.
It was the third time in the 80-lap race that it was red-flagged (stopped), a high number for non-weather-related delays. The three stoppages delayed the outcome for 57 minutes, 20 seconds.
In an earlier crash on Lap 12 involving nine drivers, George Crenshaw (broken right leg) Scott Weaver (broken left leg) and Danny Snell (neck pain) were injured. Last night, Crenshaw and Weaver were to have surgery.
When the race ended, Christian Elder had won, averaging 110.650 mph to beat Robert Huffman of Claremont, N.C.
Earnhardts rock IROC
Dale Earnhardt led one lap in the International Race of Champions yesterday, the last one. The victory was his 33rd at Daytona International Speedway and his eighth in the series, which is an invitational run with equally prepared Pontiac Firebirds.
In victory lane, with champagne about to pop, Dale Earnhardt Jr. approached his dad to congratulate him.
"You were having quite a go early weren't you," said the father, whose son was running in his first IROC race and had passed him and taken the early lead on Lap 6.
"Yeah," grinned Little E, who was carried to the wall by Rusty Wallace on the next lap and crashed when Eddie Cheever hit him from behind. "Whatever it takes to get to the front."
The father winked. "But it was the wrong lap," Earnhardt said. "It doesn't pay to get to the front on that lap. Just the last one." Dale Jr. blushed. His dad wrapped his arm around his son's shoulders and hugged him.
Earnhardt made the last-lap pass on Mark Martin for the lead coming out of Turn 4.
Pub Date: 2/13/99