First Career Win for Craven in Exciting Finish at Martinsville Dale Jr. Struggles With Damaged Car, Finishes 27th Ricky Craven, a driver who returned to racing last season after nearly two years of inactivity due to injuries, earned his first ...
First Career Win for Craven in Exciting Finish at Martinsville
Dale Jr. Struggles With Damaged Car, Finishes 27th
Ricky Craven, a driver who returned to racing last season after nearly two years of inactivity due to injuries, earned his first Winston Cup victory Monday at Martinsville Speedway in the Old Dominion 500. The race was run today after being rained out Sunday. Craven grabbed the win in a side-by-side dual to the finish line with Dale Jarrett. Craven, who gives Cal Wells his first win as a Winston Cup team owner, beat Jarrett by a margin of .141. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team ran strong early, running as high as second place before handling difficulties dropped them deep in the field. Dale Jr. spun out and crashed hard into the wall in turn two on lap 276, and later spun his heavily damaged race car on lap 379. The Bud team completed 496 of the 500 laps.
The Key Moment: Starting from the second position, Dale Jr. ran among the top 10 until taking two fresh tires during a pit stop on lap 207. After that, the handling on the Bud car began to get evil and Dale Jr. dropped from 11th to 32nd in less than 50 laps. The car finally snapped loose in the midst of turn two (with help from a slight bump from Casey Atwood), sliding backwards into the wall on lap 276. After three pit stops for repairs, the team was able to rejoin the race, though at a much reduced pace, for the remainder of the afternoon.
Dale Jr's Quotes: "It's like trying to run a foot race, but you have to be on crutches or something. It felt like the car broke a shock in the right rear. There was something really wrong with it, and I just couldn't drive it fast at all. I'd just go into the corner and it would bounce and jerk around. You can't go in hard or you'll just wreck. I had to stay off the gas until I was on the straightaway. Before that, the car was quite good, we were haulin' butt in second place, and then after some pit stops, we were working our way through traffic along with guys like Jarrett and (Jeff) Gordon."
Radio Chatter (the best moments of radio conversation during the race)
A rough day for the team, combined with a short track that keeps the driver busy almost constantly, cut back on the two-way conversations. Because his hands were full, it would often be nearly 100 laps without a word on the radio from Dale Jr. The busiest man today was spotter Ty Norris, whose job is as much psychologist as a second pair of eyes for Jr.
Survival to the finish is key at Martinsville. Saving the brakes and keeping the nose of the car intact are essential. As Dale Jr. closed in on race leader Ricky Craven on lap 45, Norris encouraged him to keep charging, but to do so patiently. Ty Norris (spotter) "OK, great job so far. Just run your rhythm, buddy. Keep it going, keep it rolling. Just be easy on the nose of the car when you get there (to the leader Craven). Real good job just keep your pace."
After the crash, Norris changed his tact, opting to try to keep Dale Jr. focused and pushing hard despite being so far behind. Dale Jr. dropped as far back as 33rd before slowly, gradually regaining positions. Norris: "Good job man. You're doing a good job of hanging onto it. Keep at it some of these guys are getting antsy so we're gonna pick up positions when they start hitting the walls."
Points Points Points
The front-row starting position is the ninth top-10 start for the Bud team this season. Despite troubles this afternoon, Dale Jr. remained in seventh position in Winston Cup points.
Dale Jr. earned a lot of media attention for donating $75,000 from his victory at Dover to the Speedway Children's Charities to benefit the children of those impacted by the terrorist attack, but his major sponsor, Budweiser, has also been extremely generous. The Anheuser-Busch Foundation and the company's independent beer distributors are donating $7.4 million to various relief funds to help people in need following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The donations bring the total amount contributed by the company's foundation and its distributors to $8.4 million.The New York State World Trade Center Relief Fund will receive $5.2 million.The Foundation is also donating $1 million to the Survivors' Fund in Washington, D.C., $1 million to the United Way's September 11th Fund and $200,000 to the Salvation Army disaster relief. Previously, the Foundation donated $1 million to the American Red Cross in Greater New York.
Money Won: $67,623
Points Position: 7th
Laps Led: ---
Best Pit Stop: Lap 125 / 4 tires and Fuel / 14.02 seconds