Dale Earnhardt conquered the new Busch Clash format in Daytona Beach, Fla., yesterday, hammering the rest of the 14-car field to win both halves of the sprint race for the previous year's pole winners.
Earnhardt, who failed to qualify for the last two runnings of the Clash, won the 50-mile race at Daytona International Speedway for the fourth time in six tries.
His Chevrolet Lumina stayed in front for most of the first half of the race, earning $25,000 for leading at the halfway point. He won $35,000 for winning the second half for a $60,000 day.
After the 10th lap of the first half, the race was slowed by a caution flag under the new format, breaking the 20-lap event into two halves. The drivers were to get two laps of caution after 10 laps in which they could make needed adjustments to their cars.
Geoff Bodine's spin gave them extra yellow flag laps to prepare for the last 10 laps, with the field starting in reverse order.
Earnhardt quickly moved to the middle of the pack by the end of Lap 11. As the leaders raced for the finish line on Lap 12, defending Daytona 500 winner Derrike Cope slid up the banking into Ricky Rudd and Ken Schrader and those three cars spun wildly.
All three drivers escaped injury, but the cars were out of the race. Cope was running a backup, but Rudd and Schrader both were driving the cars they planned to race next Sunday in the Daytona 500.
Daytona ARCA 200:
A crash on a restart three laps from the end helped Ben Hess pick up a victory and $11,350 in the late model stock car race at Daytona International.
The 26-year-old Hess was indicted last Wednesday along with his father, Homer Hess, and eight associates by a federal grand jury in Cleveland on charges of diverting about $1.2 million into team coffers after his father declared bankruptcy.