Daytona II: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Rookie driver Greg Biffle won Saturday night's Pepsi 400 at Daytona, taking advantage of superb fuel mileage while many of the faster cars were forced to make an extra stop for fuel late in the race. Jeff Burton and Ricky Rudd were second and...

Rookie driver Greg Biffle won Saturday night's Pepsi 400 at Daytona, taking advantage of superb fuel mileage while many of the faster cars were forced to make an extra stop for fuel late in the race. Jeff Burton and Ricky Rudd were second and third with the same strategy as Biffle. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team ran at the front of the field for much of the night until a late pit stop for fuel on lap 139 (of 160). Dale Jr. led the race twice for 43 laps and regained second place in the Winston Cup point standings, 180 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.

The Key Moments: The Budweiser car started in the 5th position, and ran among the top-10 positions until Dale Jr. swept past Kevin Harvick to take the lead on lap 71. The team chose not to make a pit stop during the final yellow flag of the night on lap 74, and led the race until making a pit stop on lap 102. The red No. 8 car took the lead again on lap 127 until making their final pit stop on lap 139. The stop dropped them nearly a full lap behind the leaders, but Dale Jr. put on a banzai passing display, gaining 19 positions in the final 21 laps. The Budweiser team has finished seventh or better in 11 of the last 15 races. Dale Jr. has led 12 races for 572 laps, and scored more bonus points than any other driver.

With a victory in Friday night's Busch Series race, Dale Jr. joined his father Dale Earnhardt (1993) and Fireball Roberts (1962) as the only drivers to win four races in one calendar year at Daytona International Speedway. Dale Jr. led 48 percent of the laps he completed this year in six races at Daytona. He led 295 laps in 609 laps of racing.

Dale Jr. now has six career victories at Daytona. He won the Budweiser Shootout and a 125-mile qualifier in 2003, the Pepsi 400 in 2001, and has three victories in the Busch Series.

Dale Jr's Quotes:

"Seventh? I'll drink to that. I'm happy I guess. We had a car that could have won, but we'll take another top-10 and go on. I'm proud of my guys -- and I think we're having a great season. I knew Matt (Kenseth) was right in front of me at the finish, but I didn't have enough laps to get him."

"We didn't stop during that yellow (the final yellow flag period on laps 74-79) because it wouldn't have helped our fuel strategy at the time, and that's how the race played out. If we would have had another yellow flag, we would have been right up there. I think the 29 (Harvick) and I had the best cars out there, and we had a helluva battle at the end of the race. I knew we were out of sync on the pit stop, so I just had to suck it up and pass as many guys as I could at the end. Whoo- I almost crashed about 100 times in the last 20 laps, but we were able to pass a lot of cars."

Best Radio Conversations

The demands of racing at a superspeedway, where two- and three-wide racing is the norm rather than the exception, meant Dale Jr. was not as talkative on the radio as usual. Most of the chatter took place during the two yellow-flag periods.

Dale Jr: (during the caution period on lap 65) "I'll tell ya what, I don't think I have a friend within a 100-mile radius tonight."
Ty Norris: (spotter) "I think the 97 (Kurt Busch) was trying to help you there."
Dale Jr: "Yeah, well, I feel like a one-man band out here. I'm gonna just get my (butt) to the front no matter what, no matter who helps me..." (Junior took the lead six laps later.)

Best call of the night...
Ty Norris: (spotter): "The 48 car (Jimmie Johnson) has a run on the outside. He's got a big push. It's clear behind him if you need it...(Junior pulls away from Johnson going into turn three)... oh, I see ya don't need it..."

Junior's Burning With Rome: Dale Jr. will be the special guest via satellite on "Rome is Burning" with Jim Rome on ESPN, Tuesday at 7 p.m. Eastern. (The show will re-air on ESPN2 at 1 a.m. Eastern).

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson