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Earnhardt sets record straight on rumors of team ownership

Now hear this: Dale Earnhardt is not trying to start his own race team.

Earnhardt, appearing slightly agitated about reports linking him to the imminent sale of the Kenny Bernstein racing team, wanted to make that loud and clear Thursday.

"Some things have been written about me being ready to start my own team. I'm only human. If (Earnhardt's team owner) Richard Childress or I get a proposal, it only makes good business sense to listen," said Earnhardt, who owns Busch Series cars and a SuperTruck team. "But no, I'm not in the market to buy a race team. I've got one more year left on my contract with GM Goodwrench and Richard Childress, and another contract is on the table that would take me through 1999 with Childress and Goodwrench."

Quote of the day

This one comes from Earnhardt, talking about the expected 90-degree heat on race day and the air ducts on the car that help keep the driver cool.

"(Crew chief) Andy (Petree) don't like me to run them open 'cause it slows the car down, but I betcha I'll have them open Saturday."

Bonus payoff for pole win

There's a large bonus awaiting Earnhardt if he can win Saturday's race from the pole.

The Unocal 76 Challenge fund, which increases $7,600 each time a race is not won from the pole, is up to $98,800.

Jeff Gordon last won the bonus at the Rockingham race in late February, when the fund was worth $91,200.

Spencer struggling in '95

What a difference a year has made for Jimmy Spencer. The defending Pepsi 400 winner, Spencer hasn't won a race this season and has just one top-10 finish (Talladega).

Rudd sticking with Ford

The possibility of Ricky Rudd switching from Ford to Pontiac next year is a dead issue. Rudd, who owns his No.

10 Ford team, said he plans to tell Pontiac officials thanks, but no thanks.

"I don't want to slam the Pontiac people in any way because they have a good program," he said, "but we're going to get more engineering support from Ford next year. It's really a combination of things that just lined up. It's the right business thing, it's the right racing thing for us to do right now."

_ DARRELL FRY

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