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The Intimidator This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Dale Earnhardt braced the steering wheel of his black #3 car as it curved against the wall, sending up sparks and gravel against the concrete surface. He was almost halfway through the 125-mile qualifier race. If he could just make it, he’d never ask for anything ever again, not that he needed to worry. This was his ninth qualifier race; he had won eight in a row. Eight years of season-starting glory, if he could just make it... But he’d already had made it, Dale realized. He’d won a NASCAR championship, a Winston cup championship, and had become rookie of the year. That was only the beginning. Winning the AC Delco 500, then seven Winston cup championships. And there were many more. Dale had been so lucky. He had been lucky to have a father like Ralph Earnhardt. Ralph was one of the best short-track drivers in North Carolina, where Dale was born. Ralph didn’t want Dale to race, didn’t want him to start that life. But Dale had to, it was that simple. He had to so much that he dropped out of school. Sometimes he regretted it. Ralph was a tough teacher until the end, when he died in 1973. But it was all worth it: even Dale’s nicknames were worth it. “The man in black”, “The intimidator,” “Darth Vader”. He was an aggressive driver, he admitted. But then again, who wasn’t? If he was an old granny who let any car pass him, then he wouldn’t be here. Dale breathed a sigh of relief as he passed the halfway mark. No more worrying. It was time to win.

Dale squinted through his car’s window. Dang. Jeff Gordan was ahead of him. Jeff had always been a force to be reckoned with, even when he was yonger. But he wasn’t a problem, Dale thought. No, the real problem would be be getting past Bobby Labonte. Just focus Dale, focus and you’ll fly past that checkered flag, yelling victory the whole way. Dale grinned as the announcer yelled, “Lap 138, Earnhardt has taken the lead, but Mike Skinner has moven out of formation. He’s.., he’s pushing Earnhardt to victroy!!!”. Dale could feel his fellow teamate, Mike,pushing the back of his car with the front of his car. Mike knew that he wasn’t going to win, and had decieded that at least somebody from his team should win. Dale hunched foward amd accelerated even more. Uh oh... Labonte was coming before him, a grim expression on his face. Dale saw how it was going to be, Labonte would sneak up on him like a metal stalker. All of a sudden he would pounce, then speed past Dale and into the distance. But not today,Dale though. Not if I can help it. He curve slightly to the left. Okay, here goes. Dale pushed all his weight down on the accelerator, and pressed his body against the steering wheel. Closer, closer... He could see the checkered flag now, it’s black and yellow stripes. He closed his eyes, wating for it. Seconds later he heard a bump and cheering. He opened his eyes. He had made it. All he had to do was cross the victory lane to win. Dale wasn’t worried about losing or Labonte. He was going to win. In fact, he could see all the crew members of every team lining up to shake his hand. This meant he was going to win. He sped foward, to victory, to the rest of his life.





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