The Intimidator Walks Away: A Time Line exploring what if Dale Earnhardt Sr. Wasn’t Lost in The 2001 Daytona 500.

Prologue:



2001 was a much anticipated season in stock car racing. Dodge was coming back to NASCAR and looking to have a huge impact. However, after the first race of the year a dark cloud hung over sport when one of it’s stories legends was involved in a fatal crash at it most sacred of speedways Daytona. Dale’s death set in motion the rise of Kevin Harvick as well as leading to vast changes in the safety of the sport. This thread will be dedicated to my efforts to peer into the multiverse and theorize a history where Dale Sr. doesn’t die on that fateful day. I’ve decided to take the approach that the accident still occurs but isn’t fatal. I will attempt to keep you abreast with the motorsports world as a whole as things change. There will be other points of deviation that will arise. If you question anything as reading please comment.
 
2001 NASCAR
Daytona 500 Entry List and Spotter’s Guide Part One

01 - Jason Leffler/Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates: Cingular Wireless Dodge
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1 - Steve Park/ Dale Earnhardt Inc. : Pennzoil Chevy
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2 - Rusty Wallace/Team Penske : Miller Lite Ford

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3 - DaleEarnhardt Sr./Richard Childress Racing : GM Goodwrench Chevy
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4 - Robby Gordon/Morgan-McClure Motorsports : Kodak Film Chevy
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5 - Terry Labonte/Hendrick Motorsports : Frosted Flakes Chevy
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6 - Mark Martin/Roush Racing : Viagra Ford
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7 - Mike Wallace/Ultra Motorsports : Nationsrent Ford
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8 - Dale Earnhardt Jr./Dale Earnhardt Inc. : Budweiser Chevy
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9 - Bill Elliott/Evernham Motorsports : Dodge Dealers Dodge

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2001 Daytona 500 Entry List and Spotters Guide Pt.2
10 - Johnny Benson Jr./MBV Motorsports : Valvoline Pontiac
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11 - Brett Bodine/Brett Bodine Racing : Ralph’s Supermarkets Ford
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12 - Jeremy Mayfield/Team Penske : Mobil 1 Ford

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14 - Ron Hornaday Jr./A.J. Foyt Racing : Conseco Pontiac
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15 - Michael Waltrip/Dale Earnhardt Inc. : NAPA Auto Parts Chevy:
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17 - Matt Kenseth/Roush Racing : DeWalt Tool Ford:
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18 - Bobby Labonte/Joe Gibbs Racing : Interstate Batteries Pontiac
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19 - Casey Atwood/Evernham Motorsports : Dodge Dealers Dodge
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20 - Tony Stewart/Joe Gibbs Racing : Home Depot Pontiac
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Attachments

2001 Daytona 500 Entry List and Spotters Guide Pt.3

21- Elliott Sadler/Wood Brothers : Motorcraft Ford
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22 - Ward Burton/Bill Davis Racing : Caterpillar Dodge
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24 - Jeff Gordon/Hendrick Motorsports : DuPont Chevy
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25 - Jerry Nadeau/Hendrick Motorsports : UAW/Delphi Chevy
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26 - Jimmy Spencer/Haas-Carter Motorsports : K-Mart Ford
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27 - Kenny Wallace/Eel River Racing : Unsponsored Pontiac
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*Hills Bro. Coffee agrees to additional Sponsorship after Qualifying (Couldn’t load photo)

28 - Ricky Rudd/Robert Yates Racing : Texaco-Havoline Ford:
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Attachments

2001 Daytona 500 Entry List and Spotters Guide Pt.4

31 Mike Skinner/Richard Childress Racing : Lowe’s Chevy
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32 - Ricky Craven/PPI Racing : Tide Ford
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33 - Joe Nemechek/Andy Petree Racing : Oakwood Homes Chevy
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36 - Ken Schrader/MBV Racing : M&M’s Pontiac
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37 - Derrick Cope/Qwest Racing : K&N Filters Pontiac
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40 - Sterling Marlin/Chip Ganassi Racing with Feliz Sabates
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43 - John Andretti/Petty Enterprises : Cheerios Dodge
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44 - Buckshot Jones/Petty Enterprises : Georgia-Pacific Dodge
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45 - Kyle Petty/Petty Enterprises : Sprint Dodge
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2001 Daytona 500 Entry List and Spotters Guide Pt. 5

50 - Rick Mast/Midwest Transit Racing : Midwest Transit Chevy
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51 - Jeff Purvis/Phoenix Racing : Phoenix Construction Chevy
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55 - Bobby Hamilton/Andy Petree Racing : Square D Electric
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66 - Todd Bodine/Haas-Carter Motorsports :Route 66/K-Mart Ford
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71 - Dave Marcis/Marcis Auto Racing : Realtree Chevy
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72 - Dwayne Leik/Marcis Auto Racing : Realtree/Wenger Chevy
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77 - Robert Pressley/Jasper Racing : Jasper Engines and Transmissions Ford:
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80 - Morgan Shepherd/Hover Motorsports : Hayes
Automotive Ford
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84 - Norm Benning/Norm Benning Racing : SoBe
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2001 Daytona 500 Entry List and Spotters Guide Pt.5

85 - Carl Long/Mansion Motorsports : Unsponsored Ford
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88 - Dale Jarrett/Robert Yates Racing : UPS Ford
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90 : Hut Stricklin/Donlavey Racing : Hills Bros. Coffee
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92 -Stacy Compton/Melling Racing ; Kodiak Tobacco Dodge
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93 - Dave Blaney/Bill Davis Racing : Amoco Dodge
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97 - Kurt Busch/Roush Racing : Ford 100th Anniversary Ford
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99 - Jeff Burton/Roush Racing : Citgo Ford
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Attachments

This is going to be good! BTW, you're not ripping me off in any way because my 01 lineup is going to be wayyyyyy different since my POD was much earlier.
 
2001 Qualifying and Gatorade Twin 125’s Report

Qualifying for the 500 turned heads as Dodge sent a statement take long the pole with Bill Elliott. Even more shocking was the car along side himin the front was not just another Dodge but, Stacy Compton in the Melling entry. Last season Compton, with the Melling team finished 38th in driver points. The car’s outstanding performance took many by suprise.

Dodge continued to show strength, this time in race trim with Sterling Marlin grabbing the win in the first race. The second race showed that The Chevy teams were quicker in race trim then they qualified as Mike Skinner’s Richard Childress Racing Monte Carlo crossed the line first, with Dale Earnhardt Jr, in another Chevy right in tow.
*As there is still no deviation from the OTL, please see this link for the actual results of the first duel race....
https://www.racing-reference.info/race/2001-01/Q

And this link for the second....
https://www.racing-reference.info/race/2001-02/Q


 
The night before the 500, Matt Yocum sat down for an interview with Richard Childress about his race team Here is part of that interview.

MY: I’m here with Richard Childress, owner of Richard Childress Racing which operates the number 3 GM Goodwrench and Lowe’s number 31 Chevy Monte Carlos. Richard, it’s the night before the Daytona 500. You been a car owner and involved with the sport since the late 1960’s, does Speedweeks at Daytona still get you excited?

RC: Hell, it sure does Matt. You know at this point, after qualifying and Twin 125 races, I’m just happy we don’t have many repairs to make on our Chevys. With that said, tonight is like the eye of the storm. Calm because we are happy we don’t have anything to fix from Thursday but, anxious to see my guys perform tomorrow.

MY: Speaking of which, you got 2 horses in the race so to speak, How has it been trying to get Dale and Mike on the same page?

RC: Great question Matt. In the past, Dale and Mike would come to most tracks and barely talk but, with this new aero-package, they both have seen that they need to communicate on set up. A lot of folks look at restrictor plate racing and think it’s just hammer down all 500 miles in the draft and pray to avoid the big one. However, as you and I both know, Daytona requires handling.

MY: So it really is a team effort?

RC: Yeah, I mean, we got both crew chiefs plus Dale and Mike in meetings after each session they turn laps. Heck, we even got Kevin and Mikey (Kevin Harvick and Mike Dillon) in there too.

MY: Speaking of your teams talent in the Busch series, how are they progressing?

RC: Well, glad you asked! I was looking to make an announcement and I guess, I’ll make it here with you. We got Sponsorship from AOL to run a third car for Harvick in a few races this season so that we can transition him into a 3rd full time car. Meanwhile, Mike Dillon is going to make a few starts for us in the early part of the season in the Rockwell Busch car. After that, we’ll be looking at some other talent as the season progresses.
MY: Three teams.....Is this just a stop gap until Dale is ready to retire?

RC: Woah...You want me to call up Dale and tell you him you just brought up retirement? Seriously though, at 49 Dale is still winning races. Dale is still contending for the Winston Cup. As long as he wants, he has a seat in that 3 car and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

**This interview is of course fictional but, is essential to setting up more of the situation around RCR in time line where he doesn’t die.
 
Daytona 500

Bill Elliott lead the pack to the green flag but, quickly faded to back before the first round of pit stops. Sterling Marlin and Ward Burton combined to the lead 20 of the first 21 laps for Dodge. At lap 28, Rusty Wallace cut down a tire and was forced to pit under green. He sped on pit entry and was held for an additional 15 second penalty causing him to fall a lap down.



On Lap 47, just before green flag pit stops would have started, the 51 of Jeff Purvis got into the wall bringing out the first caution of the day. During the ensuing pit stops, Jimmy Spencer put the 26 Ford behind the wall to change the rear end (he returns to the track on lap 66), Terry Labonte gets some body work done to the front of the 5 car, and Mayfield picks up a penalty. Ward Burton was first off Pit Road and led the field back to the green on lap 51.



Coming to complete lap 73, Dale Earnhardt Sr. got a big run on the inside to attempt to grab the lead from then leaders Ken Schrader and Ron Hornaday Jr. and he squeezed by Hornaday despite being chased down towards the apron.



Green flag pit stops commence around 100-110. During this sequence, Ron Hornaday Jr., in the Conseco Pontiac for AJ Foyt and Kyle Petty in the Sprint Dodge both pick up drive through penalties; while Robert Pressley loses a lap due to slow stop. In addition, Casey Atwood has to make a second stop due to a loose lug but. When pit stops cycle through Mike Skinner, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Jeff Gordon and Steve Park are among those leading the pack.



After lap 126, Skinner, Gordon, Earnhardt Sr., Marlin, and Earnhardt Jr. have all led laps since the green flag stops.



On lap 135, Matt Kenseth hits pit road to fix a broken shock. Dave Blaney also makes an unscheduled green flag stop the very next lap due to a broken crankshaft.



Lap 150 brings the final green flags stops. Sterling Marlin, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Jason Leffler, Brett Bodine, and Ken Schrader are among the first to stop. Two

Laps later, when the bulk of the lead draft stops, Mike Skinner can’t get the Lowe’s Chevy back out and appears to have broke something in the drivetrain. On lap 157, just after most cars have stopped, Kurt Busch in the Roush Racing 97 drifts high exiting turn four and squeezes Joe Nemechek into at the start of the tri-oval, bringing out the second caution of the day. When the field caught the yellow, Sterling Marlin finds himself back at the front, however, it is discovered that he has a flat tire and is forced to pit as the field takes the green. The timing of the yellow allows Rusty Wallace and Robert Pressley to get back on the lead lap.



After the field took the Green, 2 separate packs emerged. The lead group included of Both Earnhardts, Steve Park, Ken Schrader, Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Jeremy Mayfield, Ward Burton, Ricky Rudd, Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip, and Tony Stewart. However within 10 laps, the second pack ran them down. On lap 167, Michael Waltrip is able to draft to the front of the pack. 2 Laps later Steve Park led a line including Jeff Gordon and Ken Schrader to the front. On the same lap, Robert Pressley makes an unscheduled pit stop under green. The very next lap Johnny Benson also hit the pits and the team confirmed he dropped 2 cylinders.



As the laps wind down, on the inside, Waltrip and both Earnhardts formed a drafting line with War Burton. They make a move to challenge the outside line of Park, Jeff Gordon, and Schrader. On lap 173, Robby Gordon gets a big run and turns Ward Burton around. Burton makes contact with Stewart which triggers the “Big One.” Cars taken out of the race due to damage include Bobby Labonte, John Andretti, Robby Gordon, Andy Houston, Tony Stewart, Ward Burton, Jason Leffler (who completes one lap under yellow before pulling into the garage), Mark Martin (who managed to complete 2 laps under yellow before pulling out), and Jerry Nadeau (who completes 3 laps before taking it to the garage as well). Steve Park, Rusty Wallace, Buckshot Jones, Dale Jarrett, Elliott Sadler, Jeff Gordon, also had considerable damage done to their cars. While, Kenny Wallace and Terry Labonte also attempted to soldier on but wound up pulling after shortly after the green came back out. Clean up from the wreck prompted NASCAR to put out the red flag. When the yellow comes back out, the remaining cars hit pit road and it’s Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Budweiser Chevy that exits first followed by Ricky Rudd, Earnhardt Sr., Waltrip, Mike Wallace, and Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin, Bobby Hamilton, Stacy Compton, and Jeremy Mayfield. The field took the green with 20 laps to go.



Sterling Marlin wastes no time and gets to front within 2 laps of green flag action. However, the very next lap, DEI teammates Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. line up with their boss and fellow Chevy drive Bobby Hamilton and they make an attack that gets all four in front of the number 40 Coors Light Silver Bullet. They manage to fend off attempts by Marlin, Schrader, and Rusty Wallace over the next 10 laps. With 3 to go, it’s still Waltrip, Earnhardt Jr., then Earnhardt Sr. Behind them, Schrader and Marlin are side-by-side with the remaining lead lap cars also 2-by-2 in tow. On the last lap, going down the back straight, Schrader and Marlin take Earnhardt Sr. 3 wide. As they head to the turn, Earnhardt Sr was in the middle and ahead by the whole front clip. To the inside is Sterling Marlin and Schrader is on the outside on even with the door of the GM Goodwrench 3. At the apex of the turn, Marlin pushed up the track. Behind them (point of deviation: as OTL Wallace took the middle behind Earnhardt Sr.) Rusty Wallace took the outside behind Schrader. Wallace’s move gave Schrader added momentum. Meanwhile, Marlin and Earnhardt touch. The contact cause the number 3 Chevy to break loose. Dale attempted to correct it and it chases him up the track. He careened into the engine and driver side of Schrader’s M&M’s Pontiac. Both head into the wall, sweeping Wallace and the Miller Lite Blue Deuce with them.



Meanwhile, Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. drive on in front to the checkered flag for DEI 1-2 finish. Ricky Rudd, Bill Elliott, and Mike Wallace avoid the Earnhardt/Schrader/Wallace accident to round out the top 5.



FinishDriver
1*Michael Waltrip
2*Dale Earnhardt Jr.
3Ricky Rudd
4*Bill Elliott
5 Mike Wallace
6*Sterling Marlin
7Bobby Hamilton
8Jeremy Mayfield
9Stacy Compton
10Joe Nemechek
11*Dale Earnhardt Sr
12 Ken Schrader
13Rusty Wallace
14Robert Pressley
15*Brett Bodine
16Kyle Petty
17Ron Hornaday Jr. (R)
18Elliott Sadler
19Jeff Burton
20Casey Atwood (R)
21Matt Kenseth
22*Dale Jarrett
23Ricky Craven
24Terry Labonte
25Kenny Wallace
26*Mike Skinner
27Jimmy Spencer
28Johnny Benson Jr.
29Buckshot Jones (R)
30*Jeff Gordon
31*Steve Park
32Jerry Nadeau
33*Mark Martin
34Jason Leffler (R)
35^Ward Burton
36Tony Stewart
37Robby Gordon
38Andy Houston (R)
39John Andretti
40*Bobby Labonte
41Kurt Busch (R)
42Dave Blaney
43Jeff Purvis
^ Led the most laps * Led at least one lap

Those who failed to qualify

37 - Derrick Cope

50 - Rick Mast

66 - Todd Bodine

71 - Dave Marcis

72 - Dwayne Leik (R)

80 - Morgan Shepherd

84 - Norm Benning (R)

85 - Carl Long (R)

90 - Hut Stricklin
 
At the end of the Daytona 500, Ambulances were concentrated on the turn 4 area accident. All three drivers skipped the infield hospital and went directly to Halifax Heath Center. At approximately 7:30 EST, NASCAR President Mike Helton holds a press conference about the wreck and the conditions of the three drivers.

MH: Good Evening. Let me start off by saying, initially, I was afraid that we’d be having a much more serious and darker tone 2 hours ago. Today’s last lap wreck was a serious accident, eerily similar to other accidents that have been happening lately in our sport. It is with this in mind, that we are going to be confiscating all three cars involved in this accident as well as the car of Tony Stewart who was involved in the accident prior and also went to the hospital with complaints of shoulder pain. The fortunate thing is car say that Stewart seems to just have slight bruising and swelling in his arm and shoulder.

MH: As for the other three drivers, I can tell you that Ken Schrader is alert. He will be under observation for next 48 hours. The doctors are monitoring a fracture in lower leg as well as discomfort in his back. Rusty Wallace and Dale Earnhardt Sr. were initially unresponsive and Rusty is now alert as well. The Doctors are still conducting tests and scans on both drivers. Fans need to know, both drivers are critical but stable and are being treated by world class elite medical personnel.

Ever the astute professional reporter, Dick Berggren noticed something and immediately attempted to be noticed for a question. At first he is skipped over, in favor of Wally Dallenbach who asks for more info about the confiscation of the cars. Then, Dick is recognized.

DB: Mr. Helton, you touched base on the injuries to Schrader and Wallace but, what can you tell us about the condition of Dale Earnhardt Sr.?

MH: Well, I’m going to be honest, Dale could use some prayers. As I stated, he was unresponsive when the track medical team got to car. Specifics about the state of his car I cannot disclose . With that said, a decision was made by Dr. Steve Bohannon at Halifax Medical Center to put him in a medically induced comma while more tests are being conducted. Sorry, folks I cannot elaborate further than that.

Abruptly, after that statement, Helton walks out ending the press conference.

The next day around noon, at Halifax Medical Center, the now famous Dr. Steve Bohannon addressed the media.

Dr. Bohannon: I will not be able to field any questions due to the laws regarding patient’s rights. However, I have been given permission from the families to share this much about the three injuries drivers. Ken Schrader will be released today with a cast and crutches with an fracture to his Tibia and some bruising of the connective tissue near his ankle. Rusty Wallace suffered a grade 2 concussion and will be held for observation until further notice. As for Dale Earnhardt Sr., tests have show that Dale suffered a minor basilar fracture. The need for a medically induced comma stemmed from attempts to fuse his lower skull back together and also alleviate any cerebrospinal fluid. The families would like to thank you all for your concerns.
 
Busch Series NAPA 300 at Daytona Starting Grid
ROW 1
Joe Nemechek
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Randy LaJoie
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ROW 2

P.J. Jones

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Jeff Purvis

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ROW 3

Scott Wimmer

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Jamie McMurray

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ROW 4

Tim Sauter



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Mike Dillon

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