Kansas: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

From Strange to Stranger, Biffle Wins, Dale Jr. 10th Bud Team Finishes in Top-10 at Kansas Speedway Greg Biffle won a bizarre Nextel Cup race Sunday at Kansas Speedway, taking the checkered flag after only 210 laps (of a scheduled distance...

From Strange to Stranger, Biffle Wins, Dale Jr. 10th
Bud Team Finishes in Top-10 at Kansas Speedway

Greg Biffle won a bizarre Nextel Cup race Sunday at Kansas Speedway, taking the checkered flag after only 210 laps (of a scheduled distance of 234 laps) despite crossing the finish line behind other lead lap cars while sputtering with low fuel under yellow flag conditions. The race was stopped twice for rain - including a lengthy delay of more than two hours after 148 laps - and then ended as the track fell into darkness. In a season marred by numerous rain delays and postponements, today is the first event in recent memory to end due to darkness. Biffle topped second-place Clint Bowyer while Jimmie Johnson finished the race in third position. Johnson now leads the points in the Chase after three of ten races while many of the other 12 drivers in the Championship battle suffered from crashes or mechanical trouble all afternoon and evening. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team started near the front, dropped back mid-race with handling difficulties, but made many adjustments in the pits to run as high as second place before fading in the final laps to finish 10th. Dale Jr remains 13th in the point standings and has now recorded 12 top-10 finishes this season.

Key Moments:

Dale Jr., starting 6th, launched into third place by the second lap ("Wow! Hah!" was the driver's commentary on the radio as he made his move into third.) The race was soon slowed by rain, and was then red-flagged on lap 15 with the Budweiser car sitting in fifth position. After the first stoppage, the race restarted with a track washed clean by the rain, which did not agree with the set-up on the No. 8 car. Junior fought the handling on the car, then unintentionally ran into the back of Kyle Busch on lap 28, sending Busch's car spinning on the backstretch. The characteristics of the Bud car became more evil as the cloudy, muggy afternoon continued, and a series of pit stops eventually dropped Dale Jr. as low as 36th position. However, due to the same multiple stops, the Bud team were able to remain on track much longer than most of the rest of the field because they had filled their fuel tank each time, and Dale Jr. had climbed back to sixth position when a torrential downpour stopped the race for a second time on lap 148. The two-hour-plus delay meant the race restarted late in the afternoon - under much different sunny and cool conditions. The Bud car ran as high as third place in the final segment of the event, as impending darkness caused NASCAR to initially shorten the race to 225 laps - and then finally to 210 laps as multiple caution flags slowed the pace and darkness fell.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

About the contact with Kyle Busch: "I'm really sorry about that. I was running the high line as we came off turn two and he kind of made a move to the inside like he was giving me the high line. I was committed to my line, so when he came up, I was there and was hard into him before I could do anything. I don't blame him for being upset because I ran into him. I was screaming at him all the way down the backstretch 'save it! save it! save it!' He made it almost all the way down the backstretch and then I lost sight of him. I apologize to Kyle and his team and fans.

"We struggled with the car most of the day. It was just so tight - I couldn't get the car to turn and I was about to knock down the turn four wall every lap. We have a big ol' chunk of concrete that was lodged into the right side of the car by the rear bumper - so that tells ya how hard I was hitting that wall off of four! But Tony (Eury, crew chief) Jr. kept making drastic changes and we made an extra stop or two and we finally got it really haulin' after that last stop before the long rain delay. We were hoping the yellow flag would go a few more laps. We had nine laps of fuel over all but one or two of the other guys, so we wanted the officials to let us keep rollin' - you know - keep the track warm with the racecars and then all of those guys in front of us would've run out of gas or had to stop. Once we restarted, the car just went back to being tight and I couldn't hold those guys off. I would have loved to get a second straight top-three, but we'll take a top-10 and look forward to Talladega next week."

Best Radio Chatter:

Very early in the race, Dale Jr. discovered the track had not been completely cleaned after Carl Edwards major crash in yesterday's Busch Series race. Then, the button for his radio stuck open, allowing all on the channel to listen to Dale Jr. for several laps uninterrupted.

Dale Jr: "The track's really dirty off of turn four! They need to get a sweeper up there when they can! It's all that mess from Carl's wreck is still up there from yesterday!... (followed by several laps of Dale Jr's mic remaining open until he realized the button was stuck open) Damn! Y'all knew that button was (messed) up! Why didn't ya change it?"

Tony Eury Jr (crew chief): "We were just here listening. It sounds like you're breathing pretty good."

***

After running into the back of the 5 car of Kyle Busch...

Dale Jr: "Did he hit anything?!?"

Eury Jr: "Yeah. The 5 car hit the wall pretty good..."

Dale Jr: (somber, after a long silence) "That was an accident. I didn't know he was gonna pull in front of me. The way he came offa two, I thought he was gonna give me the line!"

-credit: dei

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , Kyle Busch