Rusty Wallace won for the second consecutive week, dominating the goracing.com 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway to take his fourth victory of the season. Wallace, who also won the spring race at Bristol, led Tony Stewart and Mark Martin across the...
Rusty Wallace won for the second consecutive week, dominating the goracing.com 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway to take his fourth victory of the season. Wallace, who also won the spring race at Bristol, led Tony Stewart and Mark Martin across the finish line while Dale Earnhardt finished fourth, continuing his impressive, consistent season. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Budweiser Chevrolet team ran among the top ten for much of the latter stages of the 500-lap marathon, and seemed poised for a great finish until a spin down the front straightaway on lap 452 relegated Dale Jr. one lap behind the leaders. Earnhardt Jr. finished 21st.
The Key Moment: Running among the top 15 and turning competitive lap times, Dale Jr. remained solidly on the lead lap, gradually improving his position to as high as sixth on lap 355 (of 500). While running in the top ten on lap 452, Dale Jr. slid slightly sideways coming off of turn four. Ken Schrader, following closely behind, was unable to avoid hitting the rear of the Budweiser Chevrolet, sending the rookie spinning down the front stretch in a cloud of tire smoke and brake dust. Dale Jr. actually gained control of the car without hitting anything solid (such as a wall or other race car). He continued, but a flat left rear tire caused him to lose a lap to the race leaders.
Dale Junior's Quotes: "I am so disappointed. Disappointed. The whole team is. We worked so hard to stay on the lead lap. We fought hard every lap. We really just wanted to keep the fenders on the car and finish this race on the lead lap. This place is so tough - we had a good car the last time we were here and we were crashed on the second lap. I guess this result is better than that, but it's still not where we want to be.
About the spin on lap 452: "I really don't know exactly what happened. You can probably tell more from the video or something. The car was loose as I came off the corner and then I was just spinning around. My spotter told me Kenny (Schrader) said he just couldn't get off the gas fast enough to avoid us. We might've been able to stay on the lead lap even after that, but it took too long to change the flat tire and we lost a lap.
About being told by his father/car owner to 'be patient': "He told me to be patient when I was restarting right behind him. I'm not going to get into him, but at one point he left the hole open, and I had to take it. I'm not going to do anything stupid, but I'm not going to get run over either."
Dale Jr. is now 15th in Winston Cup driver's points, but is only 45 points out of 13th position. Despite the 21st place finish, he gained four points in the rookie-of-the-year race with Matt Kenseth. Earnhardt was the top-finishing rookie of the race, while Kenseth struggled to a 39th place finish. Kenseth now has a 25 point lead in the rookie race with 11 races remaining this season.