Originally created 09/17/97

Earnhardt hopeful about MBNA 400



BALTIMORE (AP) - Seven-time Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt said his recent blackout and crash are no cause for worry and that he's eager to race at this weekend's MBNA 400 at Dover Downs International Speedway in Delaware.

Earlier this month, Earnhardt fell asleep at the wheel twice before the start of the Southern 500 in Darlington, S.C., then crashed in the first turn.

"Chalk it up to a chemical imbalance," said Earnhardt, speaking by video link from Charlotte, N.C. "It was a reaction that happened chemically with what I had to eat that day or the night before."

After the crash, Earnhardt said he was disoriented, had double vision, and couldn't recall the next hour and a half.

"It was pretty much like a blackout," he said.

Earnhardt said tests showed no chemicals in his blood and nothing wrong with him physically.

Known as "The Intimidator," Earnhardt has 70 career Winston Cup victories, but hasn't won since the Purolator 500 in Atlanta last year. The span of 50 winless starts is easily the longest of his career.

He said he's confident he'll end his bad streak.

"We're going to get to Dover and take that Monster Mile," Earnhardt said.