Earnhardt’s Final Win 20 Years Later


This year’s fall NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway marks the 20th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt’s 76th and final win of his Hall of Fame career.

Earnhardt scored the win in dramatic fashion, coming from 17th in the final five laps with drafting help from Kenny Wallace when the two paired up with four to go.

For Wallace, his memory of the race came on the final trip to pit road when he knew he was going to be in good hands after a slow stop.

"We had a caution and I came down pit road and Jimmy Elledge my crew chief at the time called for two tires, right sides only and we had a mistake and Jimmy said just come around to the left side, let’s change all four," Wallace recalled. "When I came off pit road I knew I was the last car off pit road and to my surprise I looked in the mirror and there was Earnhardt behind me. I keyed the button to Jimmy Elledge and I said, ‘What happened Earnhardt?’ and that’s what started it all was that moment right there."

As the field crossed the line and the white flag was displayed, Earnhardt took the lead from his Richard Childress Racing teammate Mike Skinner and went on to hold off Andy Petree Racing teammates Wallace and Joe Nemechek at the checkered flag.

"It just shows you Dale Sr. was an amazing guy at making stuff happen," Skinner said. "He didn’t have a winning car that day. His car was about a sixth-place car. The 31 was a winning car that day and we finished sixth and he won the race."

Audio: MRN’s Broadcast of the 2000 Winston 500

The last driver in the outside lane that Earnhardt and Wallace needed to pass during their charge to the front was John Andretti, who led one lap and ultimately finished 20th.

"When we got close to Andretti’s car it just kind of moved up the tri-oval and we just went right by him," Wallace said. "When the race was over, I remember Earnhardt he had a drink in his hand later that night and I looked at him and I said, ‘How did we get by Andretti? And I promise you, my hand on a Bible, he never even said a word. He shrugged his shoulders. It was almost as Earnhardt knew how to position his car on Andretti."

From that point on the rest was history and Earnhardt went on to claim his record 10th win at Talladega in front of a jubilant jam-packed crowd.

"I could remember hearing the people cheering, going nuts," Wallace said. "I mean over the race cars."

Listen to Dave Moody’s conversation with Wallace and Skinner about the 2000 Winston 500 in the player above or by clicking here.