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The Callahan Report: Marlin & Earnhardt Win Twin 125s

12 February 1998

By Terry Callahan
The Auto Channel

DAYTONA BEACH, FL: Qualifying for the 40th Daytona 500 is complete. The field was set with the running of the Gatorade Twin 125s.

In the first race, Sterling Marlin brought the Coors Light Monte Carlo into victory lane. The two- time winner of the Daytona 500 looked to be in his old style as he cruised to the finish without a pit stop.

Sterling Marlin, Winner Twin 125, Race One
Sterling Marlin, Winner of the first Gatorade Twin 125

On lap 33, Kenny Irwin, Dick Trickle, and Todd Bodine tangled bringing out the caution flag. Strong contenders entered the pits for right side tires and fuel during the slow down. Those who stopped included Jeff Gordon and Ken Schrader. Gordon and Schrader had dominated much of the first 30 laps. Marlin and seven other drivers stayed on the track. Those who pitted gained nothing from their fresh tires.

Marlin held off a late charge from Dale Jarrett's Ford Taurus and Bobby Labonte in a Pontiac for the victory. Marlin was driving the only Chevy in the top ten.

Schrader, Johnny Benson, and David Green all crashed on the last lap, with Schrader getting the worst of the incident. Shrader was uninjured but his car was heavily damaged. Benson will miss the Daytona 500 because he has no provisional starts to use since he is with a new team for 1998.

Kenny Irwin finished 25th in the race but still advances to the Daytona 500 by virtue of his team owner (Robert Yates) points.

In the second qualifying race, it was like a rerun. For the ninth consecutive year, Dale Earnhardt won his 125-mile qualifying race. Earnhardt started from the outside of the front row. He pulled to the lead early in the race and never looked back.

Dale Earnhardt Leads the Way
Dale Earnhardt Leads the Pack

The last time Earnhardt had visited victory lane was one year ago in the 1997 Gatorade Twin 125s. Drivers in the 125s do not earn NASCAR points. Earnhardt has not won a NASCAR "point" event in almost a year and a half.

Earnhardt's win wasn't easy. He had plenty of pressure from Michael Waltrip's Ford Taurus. The race was heading toward a one lap dash to the checkered until Loy Allen spun with a lap remaining. The race finished under the yellow.

Chevrolet did much better in this race, placing five cars in the top ten. Pontiac had one top ten finisher while Ford had four Taurus' toward the top.

There were five drivers sent home from the second qualifying race. Those included Kenny Wallace, Gary Bradbery, Norm Benning, Loy Allen, and Mark Gibson.

Seven drivers used provisional starts to get into the 43 car field. Those included: Darrell Waltrip, Brett Bodine, Steve Grissom, Ricky Rudd, Kyle Petty, Kenny Irwin, and Ted Musgrave.

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