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Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 5, 2001

Earnhardt's widow pleads for privacy

LAS VEGAS -- The widow of Dale Earnhardt pleaded for public support Sunday in helping the family keep the driver's autopsy private.

"This is the first time I've spoken in public since we've lost Dale," Teresa Earnhardt said, reading from a statement before the UAW-DaimlerChrylser 400. "Honestly, I'm not very comfortable being here. It's too soon. But this issue is of vital importance, not just to my family but to anyone ever faced with being exploited after losing a loved one."

Later, the Orlando Sentinel released a statement reiterating its sympathy to the Earnhardt family, but further explaining its request to see the autopsy report for a deeper investigation into how Earnhardt died.

"Newspapers are not always popular," the statement said. "Sometimes newspapers have to ask hard questions; this is one of those times."

Earnhardt died instantly of head injuries on Feb. 18 in a last-lap crash at the Daytona 500.

His wife sued Volusia County on Feb. 22 to stop release of its medical examiner's autopsy photos taken after the fatal wreck. The next day, a Sentinel reporter made a public records request asking for "any and all photographs" of Earnhardt.

Judge Joseph Will issued a temporary injunction. He said the photos have no "bona fide newsworthiness" and could cause the family "additional anguish and grief."

A hearing on whether to make the injunction permanent was originally set for Thursday but was postponed for one week because of a scheduling conflict.

Teresa Earnhardt pleaded at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for anyone "who feels strongly as we do, to let your voices be heard."

T. BODINE GOING FORWARD: Todd Bodine doesn't think he needs to prove anything. Just don't overlook what he's doing.

"I don't know if I've got a lot to prove," said Bodine, who led several times and finished fifth a day after winning the Busch Grand National race at Las Vegas.

"I've kind of proven it over and over," he said. "Maybe some of the people needed an attitude adjustment, but I've done this in a lot of different cars and in a lot of different situations. Hopefully, people will take notice."

Bodine drove in 109 Winston Cup races before this season, but never has found a permanent home, moving from team to team and moving up and down between Winston Cup and BGN.

PIT STOPS: This was the eighth consecutive race to produce a different winner. ... Chevrolets have swept all three races this season, but all four manufacturers (including Ford, Pontiac and Dodge) were in the top four Sunday.

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