Loudon: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Kyle Busch Wins at Loudon Bud Team Out Early With Engine Failure, Drops to 7th in Points Kyle Busch led the most laps to win the Lenox Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway at Loudon. Carl Edwards was second and Greg Biffle finished...

Kyle Busch Wins at Loudon
Bud Team Out Early With Engine Failure, Drops to 7th in Points

Kyle Busch led the most laps to win the Lenox Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway at Loudon. Carl Edwards was second and Greg Biffle finished third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team were among the fastest cars on the track for the first 136 laps until an engine failure finished their day very early, giving them a last-place finish. Because of the early exit, Dale Jr. dropped from third to seventh in Nextel Cup points with seven races remaining before the Chase for the Cup. This is only the second DNF (did not finish) of the season for the Bud team.

Key Moments:

Dale Jr., starting 25th for the second consecutive week, had one of the fastest cars on the track, moving through traffic and using pit strategy to move into the top-five by the 20th lap. The pit strategy sent the Bud team to pit lane on lap 83, giving up fourth position and dropping them deep into the field. A yellow flag soon after their stop relegated them one lap down for a short time, but they regained the lead lap on the following caution period on lap 96. Gaining spots at nearly one position per lap, Dale Jr. had climbed from 35th to 13th when the engine seized on lap 136, ending the team's day prematurely.

This is the second time Dale Jr. has finished 43rd at Loudon - the first time being his second career Cup start in 1999, when a similar engine failure sent him home early from the one-mile New Hampshire track. His only other last-place classifications came at the February race at Rockingham in 2001 and last year's Brickyard 400 when he was caught in a front-stretch crash early in the race. In 238 career Cup starts, Dale Jr. has finished in every position at least once - except 28th.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

What can you say? We don't have engine failures very often, and I'm sure the guys in the engine shop will take it seriously. But, I'm really proud of those guys because we've been much better on horsepower lately, and I'm sure they're going to keep working hard at it. We had a good car before then, so I still feel really good about my entire team. I passed a ton of cars today, and that's a good sign for what we can look for when we come back here in September.

Best Radio Chatter:

The short afternoon drive didn't produce the usual volume of chatter for the Bud team. Dale Jr. and his crew chief Tony Eury Jr. discussed their pit strategy during a yellow flag period that began on lap 116.

Dale Jr: It just doesn't feel as good on these tires.

Tony Jr: We're still OK. We've got pretty good stuff. You are the quickest car in traffic.

Dale Jr: Yeah. I don't think we gained so much by staying out on that early yellow flag. We were gambling I know, and it bit us because we didn't really gain anything. (pause) But it is fun to pass all those people though.

Tony Jr: Yeah, during that last segment, you passed 10 cars.

Dale Jr: We were much better in traffic than any of those other guys. When I first came off of pit lane with those sticker (new) tires, it felt great. Really really good, but then after the yellow, this new set seems to slide the nose a lot more.

Tony Jr: Tell me what you need to make you better.

Dale Jr: There's nothing I can tell ya that will make any sense.

***

On lap 134, after a puff of smoke wafted from the underside of the Bud car on the backstretch.

Steve Hmiel (spotter): He's coming to pit lane guys

Dale Jr: I dunno what's wrong. I think it broke a motor.

Tony Jr: Check your switches and the (kill) button on the wheel.

Dale Jr: They're OK but the motor won't even turn over.

Tony Jr: Yeah. It's locked up. Good job today Dale Jr.

-dei

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Greg Biffle , Carl Edwards , Tony Eury Jr. , Kyle Busch