Dark weekend for NASCAR, Dale Jr. at New Hampshire

Tony Stewart won a rain-shortened Winston Cup race for the second time in 2000 while Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Budweiser team struggled to a 21st place finish in the thatlook.com 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. The race was stopped...

Tony Stewart won a rain-shortened Winston Cup race for the second time in 2000 while Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Budweiser team struggled to a 21st place finish in the thatlook.com 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. The race was stopped for nearly an hour by a rain delay, and was stopped again for the final time on lap 273 (of 300). A somber mood dominated the weekend following the death of Kenny Irwin in a practice crash on Friday morning. The fatal accident took place in the same location as the crash that claimed the life of Adam Petty only eight weeks ago.

The Key Moment: A yellow flag on lap 100 allowed Dale Jr. to remain on the lead lap. Earnhardt had held his poor-handling Bud Chevy in front of race leader Stewart for four laps prior to the caution flag . The race started with Earnhardt Jr. in the 26th position, but he needed only six laps to blast past ten cars into the 16th position. From there, the team struggled with an ill-handling car, although pit strategy brought Dale Jr. as high as second place midway through the race. The pit strategy would have gained the team several positions if the race had run to its full distance as many of the cars in front of the No. 8 would have been forced to make another pit stop for fuel.

Dale Junior's Quotes: "This is frustrating to do so poorly. We've got a long way to go before we're really fast at this place. I think our inexperience might have hurt us today. We just couldn't get the car to turn very well - it pushed [the front tires wouldn't turn]. The track was different today - it threw us a curveball and we were never able to get the car really good. We made that pit stop right after the rain delay to try to make the car better, but we weren't going anywhere - we were just hanging onto those guys."

About passing ten cars in the first six laps: "We weren't really even that fast! I just took a high line on the start - and we passed all of those cars 'cause they seemed to be slowing down!"

About the death of Kenny Irwin: "I didn't know Kenny as well as some of the other guys - but I know we'll all miss him. It's tough to put into words right now - it's just tough to deal with. My thoughts and my prayers are with the Irwin family."

ESPN in Print

The latest edition of ESPN Magazine (July 10 cover date, with Tiger Woods on the cover) includes two Dale Jr. segments. A feature story by Ryan McGee examines the relationship between Dale Earnhardt and Dale Jr., while ESPN Sportscenter anchorwoman Linda Cohn spoke with Dale Jr. about the perks of being a famous athlete.

What's The Point?

Despite a rough day on track, Dale Jr. remains 14th in the Winston Cup standings. In the rookie battle, Matt Kenseth passed Earnhardt Jr. late in the race to become the top finishing rookie. Kenseth leads Dale Jr. by 14 points in the rookie race (217-203).

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Adam Petty