Earnhardt won the same way Mark Martin would have won if that crash had happened on lap 199 instead of lap 200. Had that wreck happened shortly after the first restart, the pace car would have come out and drove them home.
But Earnhardt won under different rules. When he was on lap 198 and the caution came out, the field was not frozen. Earnhardt had to win the race back to the line, and he did. I see a lot of folks (not just here) saying NASCAR should of handed the RACE to Martin at the time of the wreck instead of actually having them race.
The reason they did away with that rule was because of safety. Not asking drivers to weave through crash scenes so as to not lose points seemed like a good place to start.
So now they freeze the field and attempt the green, white, checker, one time. If they didn't do this, what is to keep Mark Martin's teammate or anyone's teammate who is in 43rd from driving his car straight into the wall, creating a caution so Mark or whomever can walk home with the win?
You need to remember that teams are out there and when one team member has no shot to do better than 40th, but his car is still running, how would NASCAR keep him from blowing a tire or just getting loose and hitting the wall?
The way they do it now prevents this as a teammate out in front of the field is better than a teammate starting first during a late race restart. There is no benefit to wrecking to help a teammate who is in the lead this way and we as fans get to see at leat an attempt to finish the race, racing.
Yes it is supposed to be 200 laps but it is one of those rules made to benefit, us. Without that rule you don't see two cars, side by side going 180 fighting for the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
One of the best finishes ever and people are upset they didn't get the most boring ever.
By the way, I was cheering for Mark Martin even though I have no use for him. It always bugged me that he hung around the Busch series until he set all kinds of records. He was a top NASCAR driver and he was going for Busch Series titles. Lame. Harvick did the same thing last year but he isn't pushing 50. Harvick is still learning. Martin knew all he could ever know and then spent Saturday's picking on kids. But based on who was in the top ten when they started for the final time, I was hoping for Martin.