Newman wins Richmond, Dale Jr. 17th; No. 8 Budweiser Team leads 76 laps, punctured tire foils bid for victory. Ryan Newman won Saturday night's action-packed Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Jeremy Mayfield was second while...
Newman wins Richmond, Dale Jr. 17th; No. 8 Budweiser Team leads 76 laps, punctured tire foils bid for victory.
Ryan Newman won Saturday night's action-packed Rock and Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Jeremy Mayfield was second while Ricky Rudd was third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team were among the top three cars for almost the entire race, until a punctured right front tire forced the team to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 355 (of 400) while running in third position. Dale Jr. led the race three times for 76 laps, including an exciting side-by-side duel with Jeff Gordon for the lead for nearly 30 laps. Dale Jr. remains in second place in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings.
The Key Moments: Starting 13th, Dale Jr. was into the top-10 by lap three, and then steadily climbed through the field, taking the lead on lap 164. The No. 8 car, carrying a special paint scheme in honor of Budweiser's "True Music" program and the Chevrolet Rock-and Roll race theme, was among the top-five positions for the next 190 laps. On lap 318, Dale Jr. ran over a piece of debris in turn two with the right front tire. At the time, the tire did not deflate, so the team opted to remain on the track in second place during the next yellow flag period on lap 320. But, the damage was done, and Dale Jr. reported the right front tire going flat on lap 354. After the unscheduled pit stop, the No. 8 team dropped to 23rd position, and were able to move to 17th by the conclusion of the race.
Dale Jr, Quotes: "It's really, really disappointing to have such a fast car and then finish 17th. Almost from the start of the race, I had some sort of vibration in the brakes. I really couldn't drive the car hard because the vibration would just make the front tires skip across the track. We were still fast, but I didn't want to push the car hard if I didn't know how it would respond. This has always been one of the tracks where we've had great finishes, but I guess we came up about 50 laps short tonight. Because I wasn't really able to push it, we had a lot of car left for them at the end, and I think we would have been good in the long run.
"I hit some debris on the track in turn two (on lap 318). I wasn't sure if the right front tire was going flat, but we decided to stay out and not pit because it looked it was going to stay up. It guess it took another 30 laps of racing for the tire to actually go flat. Then, I had no chance to hang on and we had to pit. It's unfortunate, but I'm glad I had a great car to drive. It just makes it harder to accept finishing where we did."
Best Radio Conversations:
Despite being among the fastest cars, Dale Jr. was not as pleased with the set of tires he received on the first pit stop.
Dale Jr: "I don't like these tires as much as the first set."
Tony Jr: "Sherm (tire specialist Shawn Nettleton) said it may be an old set of tires."
Dale Jr.: "Darn you, Sherm. OK, everybody point at Sherm and laugh..."
Tony Jr: "It's alright. We already did..."
After hitting debris on lap 318.
Dale Jr.: "Get ready guys, I have a flat right front!... I hit some debris in turn two..."
Ty Norris (spotter): "NASCAR is saying there is some debris there, They may throw a caution."
Dale Jr: "Yeah there's debris there! I hit it! I ran over it! Tell me if it looks like it's going flat... Tell NASCAR I hit it!"
The caution flag did come out on lap 320.
Dale Jr: "Did anybody see what the debris was? Could it have caused a flat."
Norris: "We can't see it from here."
Dale Jr: "Somebody check it out. It looked like a piece of square tubing..."
Tony Jr: "NASCAR says it was fiberglass...You'll have to do what you can. We can make it on fuel."
Norris: "From where I'm at, the tire looks the same as it has all night, It looks fine."
On lap 354...
Dale Jr: "Flat tire! I'm comin' in!"
Started: 13th 2Finished: 17th (-1 lap)
Points: 2nd place (no change)
Best Pit Stop: Stop number 3 of 5 / Lap 196 / Four tires and fuel / 13.73 seconds
Special Awards: MBNA Mid-Race Leader Award ($10,000)
Goodyear Gatorback Fastest Lap Award ($5,000) / Lap 209 / 124.367 mph