Looking Back: Would Dale Sr had won his 8th Championship in 2001?

RT1981

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I remember many people at the time think he could have coming off one of his best season in years.I think he would had been in the hunt but the way Jeff ran that year he would had been tough to beat but still it would had been fun watching him and jeff battle it out that year.
 

AndyMarquisLive

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I remember many people at the time think he could have coming off one of his best season in years.I think he would had been in the hunt but the way Jeff ran that year he would had been tough to beat but still it would had been fun watching him and jeff battle it out that year.
I think he could have.
 

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He had it in him. He was fantastic in 2000. I definetly think he would've been a title contender in 2001.
 

Snappy D

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I see Earnhardt maybe winning 3-5 races in 01 and finishing top 5 in points but no way he’s beating Gordon for the Cup that year. Jeff was in his prime while with that rebuilt 24 team and was fending off challenges from the RYR duo of 88/28, Sterling Marlin in the 40 and Smoke in the 20. I think JG holds off Earnhardt. I’ve always wondered how long Dale would have raced till, maybe he sticks around for the first version of the Chase in 04
 

Efisher131

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I see Earnhardt maybe winning 3-5 races in 01 and finishing top 5 in points but no way he’s beating Gordon for the Cup that year. Jeff was in his prime while with that rebuilt 24 team and was fending off challenges from the RYR duo of 88/28, Sterling Marlin in the 40 and Smoke in the 20. I think JG holds off Earnhardt. I’ve always wondered how long Dale would have raced till, maybe he sticks around for the first version of the Chase in 04
I thought I read somewhere his last year was going to be 03, but I could be wrong.
 

Snappy D

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Yup 03 would have been his last season and in 04 would have gone sports car racing with a DEI corvette.
Oh I have never read this, knew Dale was interested in sports car racing, wow it’d be cool to see him in IMSA
 

rowdy3

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Oh I have never read this, knew Dale was interested in sports car racing, wow it’d be cool to see him in IMSA

Yup. He was impressed by Ron Fellows that he offered him a ride in the 1 cup car full-time in 2002. Contract was printed and was sitting on his desk for him and Ron to sign it. Dale was planning to do the watkins glen grand-am race in August and the rolex 24 again in 2002.
 

hmmm298

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I thought I read somewhere his last year was going to be 03, but I could be wrong.

Even if he had not planned to retire yet, I'm sure that would have been his last year with the Chase starting in 04; kind of similar to JJ and the new car, since it was originally supposed to debut in 2021bc (before covid).

Also I definitely believe Dale would have had a chance. I was just a kid at the time - 10 years old in 2001 and planning to attend my second nascar race for my birthday in May that year at the 600, but was a big fan of Dale since I was old enough to remember watching. My family always said they couldn't believe the NASCAR facts I knew as a kid and things I believed that would happen (and did etc.). I followed Nascar and even F1 and the ASA series very closely as a kid.

I always believed that that would have been the best chance he ever had at #8. It would have been a classic final chapter in the JG rivalry, with the Chase signalling the beginning of a new era in 04.
 

Snappy D

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Yup. He was impressed by Ron Fellows that he offered him a ride in the 1 cup car full-time in 2002. Contract was printed and was sitting on his desk for him and Ron to sign it. Dale was planning to do the watkins glen grand-am race in August and the rolex 24 again in 2002.
Very cool to know this, didn’t know Earnhardt got the sports car bug.
 

Snappy D

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cool thread.

Anyone who doesnt think he could have is crazy
I think it woulda been extremely tough. Don’t think he beats Jeff in 01, don’t see it going much better against Smoke in 02. Maybe 03 against Kenseth but gosh you know if it was announced that year would have been his last those last year tours rarely go well based on past history.
 

Formerjackman

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Yup. He was impressed by Ron Fellows that he offered him a ride in the 1 cup car full-time in 2002. Contract was printed and was sitting on his desk for him and Ron to sign it. Dale was planning to do the watkins glen grand-am race in August and the rolex 24 again in 2002.

I don't know anything about Dale running those races, but if he was, it wouldn't have been in one of the P&M Corvettes. They were an ALMS team and the ONLY Grand Am races they ran were the 1999-2001 Rolex 24's and after 2001, GT1 cars were no longer eligible in Grand Am. As for a RCR Corvette, once again if you are suggesting a P&M "factory" built car, GM never allowed ANYONE to race those cars in the US except themselves. They only sold old cars to Pro-AM teams off the continent that wouldn't and couldn't race directly against them at LeMans. To this day, GM makes it basically impossible for anyone but their own factory team to race a Corvette in IMSA.
 

JGR_20

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I think RCR was poised for the 3 car to be a title contender nonetheless... I can’t say he would have won his eighth cup, but I think the 3 car wins 2-3 races and is top five in points at least

I do recognize he was a lot of people’s title pick for 2001, based on his 2000 season though

The Yates cars were amazing for parts of the 2001 season... along with Jeff Gordon’s successful season
 

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I think with #8 on the line Dale would have been everyone's nightmare on the track including Jeff Gordon.
 

rowdy3

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I don't know anything about Dale running those races, but if he was, it wouldn't have been in one of the P&M Corvettes. They were an ALMS team and the ONLY Grand Am races they ran were the 1999-2001 Rolex 24's and after 2001, GT1 cars were no longer eligible in Grand Am. As for a RCR Corvette, once again if you are suggesting a P&M "factory" built car, GM never allowed ANYONE to race those cars in the US except themselves. They only sold old cars to Pro-AM teams off the continent that wouldn't and couldn't race directly against them at LeMans. To this day, GM makes it basically impossible for anyone but their own factory team to race a Corvette in IMSA.

Doug Fehan who ran the corvette program was going to sell Dale a few corvettes for him to run for DEI.
 

Snappy D

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I think with #8 on the line Dale would have been everyone's nightmare on the track including Jeff Gordon.
Jeff already beat Dale in 95 when #8 was on the line right after coming off #7. I don’t think pardon the pun, Jeff would have been intimidated in 01 when he was clearly on top of the sport with a newly rebuilt team and a new crew chief he was vibing with.
 

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Jeff already beat Dale in 95 when #8 was on the line right after coming off #7. I don’t think pardon the pun, Jeff would have been intimidated in 01 when he was clearly on top of the sport with a newly rebuilt team and a new crew chief he was vibing with.
Jeff beat him once and your sure he could do it again regardless of Dale's mind set?
I don't think so.
 

Snappy D

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Jeff beat him once and your sure he could do it again regardless of Dale's mind set?
I don't think so.
Jeff also beat him in 97, 98. I don’t think Earnhardt winning again is a slam dunk like you do.
 

Formerjackman

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Doug Fehan who ran the corvette program was going to sell Dale a few corvettes for him to run for DEI.

Unless you can show me something concrete, I don't believe that for one second. NUMEROUS people have tried to get a hold of those cars over the years and the answer was not just no, but hell no. GM is so damn anal about those cars and making sure that their two are the ONLY Corvettes in American professional sportscar racing that they basically ran Lou Gigliotti, (who had built his own car) out of the ALMS and when they hired Callaway to develop the C7 GT3 car, they expressly forbade ANY of those cars coming to the US, even though they would race as privateer cars in GTD, not GTLM with the factory cars. Not to mention to competitively run one of those GT1 cars back in Dale's era would have taken a near Cup level budget. Where was the money coming from?
 

rowdy3

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Unless you can show me something concrete, I don't believe that for one second. NUMEROUS people have tried to get a hold of those cars over the years and the answer was not just no, but hell no. GM is so damn anal about those cars and making sure that their two are the ONLY Corvettes in American professional sportscar racing that they basically ran Lou Gigliotti, (who had built his own car) out of the ALMS and when they hired Callaway to develop the C7 GT3 car, they expressly forbade ANY of those cars coming to the US, even though they would race as privateer cars in GTD, not GTLM with the factory cars. Not to mention to competitively run one of those GT1 cars back in Dale's era would have taken a near Cup level budget. Where was the money coming from?


"Earnhardt Sr. got an OK from Doug Fehan, program manager for Corvette Racing, to acquire the purpose-built C5-R’s from GM. “One day soon, we’re going to find a way in our schedule to get over to Le Mans and see what it’s like,” Earnhardt Sr. told Fehan. “Me and my boys are going to do Le Mans.”

But two weeks after finishing fourth at Daytona’s 24-hour with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins, Earnhardt Sr. suffered his fatal crash on the last lap of the Daytona 500. Despite having laid the groundwork to set up his own Corvette team, Earnhardt Sr.’s death ended DEI’s plans to enter sports car racing."

Got to talk to Ron Fellows one year after he liked my shirt and after hearing him in a interview about his plans in Nascar and Dale's plans in sports cars.
 

hmmm298

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Unless you can show me something concrete, I don't believe that for one second. NUMEROUS people have tried to get a hold of those cars over the years and the answer was not just no, but hell no. GM is so damn anal about those cars and making sure that their two are the ONLY Corvettes in American professional sportscar racing that they basically ran Lou Gigliotti, (who had built his own car) out of the ALMS and when they hired Callaway to develop the C7 GT3 car, they expressly forbade ANY of those cars coming to the US, even though they would race as privateer cars in GTD, not GTLM with the factory cars. Not to mention to competitively run one of those GT1 cars back in Dale's era would have taken a near Cup level budget. Where was the money coming from?
I doubt any of those people had the pull with GM that Dale Earnhardt Sr had.
 

Formerjackman

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I still don't believe when push come to shove it ever would have happened, and I doubt Fehan had the clout to MAKE it happen. That decision would have come from much farther up the food chain. Whatever clout Fehan DID have, it didn't save him from getting canned a few weeks ago. The whole LeMans things seem pretty far fetched too. First off the car has to be invited, and you kind of have to EARN the right to be invited, and then there is the cost, which isn't far off what it takes to run a whole season in the US. Hey whatever. If Racin' Today says it, I guess it's true....
 

aunty dive

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Eleven years later, Fehan gets the corporate axe ... after leading the Pratt & Miller-run Corvette squad to 14 team championships,13 manufacturer and driver titles as well as 113 race wins, including eight class victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the program’s 22 seasons to date.

So, yeah ... no credibility. Just another guy making statements he isn’t authorized to make. I’m surprised he hasn’t started posting here. He’d fit right in.
 

StandOnIt

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Eleven years later, Fehan gets the corporate axe ... after leading the Pratt & Miller-run Corvette squad to 14 team championships,13 manufacturer and driver titles as well as 113 race wins, including eight class victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the program’s 22 seasons to date.

So, yeah ... no credibility. Just another guy making statements he isn’t authorized to make. I’m surprised he hasn’t started posting here. He’d fit right in.
yeah but he doesn't know Jack.
 

Formerjackman

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Just because Fehan was on board with it, doesn't mean it was going to happen, and NOTHING that GM did before or after Dale's death gives even the SLIGHTEST indication they would be open to such an arrangement. If I had a nickel for every larger than life racing story that was supposedly gospel when all or some of the principals are no longer around to comment, I could probably retire. I have followed that program since the day it was first announced to the press, and this is the VERY FIRST time I have ever heard thing one about this. That doesn't mean it isn't true, but I find it odd that if this was going to happen that it wouldn't have been more newsworthy. From the time Dale first drove the car to the day he died, I doubt there was even time to seriously even discuss it, let alone make a decision on it or put any of the pieces in place. Remember too that at the time, this was a pretty new team, and the 2001 Rolex was the team's FIRST major victory, and it wasn't even in the series they actually ran in, so I hardly think that would have been the time for them to seriously think about expanding the scope of the project. As someone who has seriously studied the sport of auto racing, read scores of books and magazines and listened to hundreds of interviews, I never cease to be amazed at the details that drivers, owners, crew chiefs, you name it, get factually wrong five years after the event happened, let alone 20. Unless somebody can show something more concrete than some obscure magazine article, I'm calling BS on this one. If you want to believe it, be my guest, I don't really give a damn.
 

aunty dive

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Jonathan Ingram has been a respected motor sports journalist for 5 decades. He is the author of 8 books, most notably his most recent ...

“CRASH!, published in 2019, talks about both the science and research that went into the development of the HANS device as well as the political complexities that inevitably arose with its adoption. It’s a great read about one of the most important driver safety devices ever introduced into motorsport. That it’s been recognized for inclusion into the library of the Smithsonian Museum of American History is a huge deal.”

Mr. Ingram covered Earnhardt and Fehan’s entire careers.
 

Snappy D

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hmmm298

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Found this article it does have Mr. Fehan saying Earnhardt Sr was going to run for Corvette at LeMans was but it sounded like it’d be a factory deal
I see a quote in that article saying "He was only going to run one more year of Cup", so it sounds like Dale was actually planning on retiring after 2001. He was so close.
 

Switchback

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Could he have won it all in 01? Maybe, harvick was a talented rookie, but still a rookie and he put on a show that year. Remember he finished top ten having missed a race. If nothing else, earnhardt would have performed much better at the plate tracks, but likely other tracks as well. If I had to guess, I doubt he beats gordon. Rcr wasn't on par with hendrick and Jeff was in his prime.
I wonder if rcr would have had that terrible fall off in 02 with earnhardt behind the wheel. If so, 01 would have likely been his last chance.
 
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