Jeff Burton Wins Dover to Take Pts. Lead, Dale Jr. 21st Tire Troubles Mean Woes for Bud Team Jeff Burton won for the first time in 175 Nextel Cup races, taking the checkered flag in Sunday's Dover 400 in a sparkling side-by-side battle with Matt...
Jeff Burton Wins Dover to Take Pts. Lead, Dale Jr. 21st
Tire Troubles Mean Woes for Bud Team
Jeff Burton won for the first time in 175 Nextel Cup races, taking the checkered flag in Sunday's Dover 400 in a sparkling side-by-side battle with Matt Kenseth in the final 30 laps. Burton's victory also puts him into the unofficial point lead after two of the 10 Chase for the Cup races. Kenseth ran out of fuel in the final laps, handing second place to Carl Edwards and third place to Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team started 13th for the second week in a row, and like last week, moved forward into the top-five positions early in the race. A flat right front tire knocked the Bud team out of contention, forcing them to make an unscheduled green flag pit stop on lap 282. Their troubles were compounded when a yellow flag came out on lap 298, trapping them two laps behind the leaders. The No. 8 finished the day in the 21st position, three laps down. The finish allows Dale Jr. to maintain his seventh-place position in the Chase for the Cup point standings, but is now 102 points behind the leader Burton with eight races remaining. Of the eight remaining tracks, Dale Jr. and the Bud team have 10 career victories at five venues (Talladega, the All-Star race at Charlotte, Atlanta, Texas and Phoenix).
Key Moments: Dale Jr., starting 13th -- as he did last week at Loudon -- also replicated his climb through the field early in the race. Finding speed in the high groove in what has now become somewhat of a Dale Jr. trademark, the Bud car was into the top-10 by lap 60, and then into the top-five by lap 95. He remained in or near the top-five until a pit stop on lap 186 dropped them to mid-pack, but Dale Jr. again climbed as high as sixth place before the flat tire took them out of contention for the race victory on lap 282 (of 400).
Dale Jr. Quotes: "It's another frustrating day, but what can you do? A flat tire-- then the yellow flag locked us two laps behind-- The car was good early on in the high line. I could really get a run on a lot of guys running up top, but we were never worth a damn in the low groove. The nose would push, push, push all day and it got worse and worse as the race went on. We took two tires (on a lap 208 pit stop) to try and get some track position, and we were hanging on to the top-10 but then the (right front) tire started going down and we dropped back. After that, it was a case of trying to pick off whatever cars were on our lap. It's not a good day, but it could certainly have been a lot worse if we would have crashed when the tire went down."
Best Radio Chatter:
With tire trouble taking the Bud team out of contention, most of the (printable) chatter took place early in the going--
Dale Jr: (foreshadowing the afternoon on lap 12): "It's really plowin' on the bottom. It just ain't cuttin' it down there so it might be time to go to the top. I might not make a lot of time for awhile, but it'll pay off later."
Tony Eury Jr. (crew chief): "10-4."
Dale Jr. (twenty laps later): "It's good up top. A little tightness in the middle, but I'm pretty good in and off the corners. It's still not working well on the bottom. (speaking to his spotter, Steve Hmiel) Steve, when I'm running the high groove, you don't have to clear me everytime a car is in the low lane. I know they pull even in the middle, but by the time I'm off the corner, they're gone."
Steve Hmiel: "Yeah. As soon as I said it, I knew I was saying too much. But I didn't want to say anything about it because then I'd be talking more about something I knew I was already talking too much about."