Texas: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Kahne is 11th Different Winner in 11 Nextel Cup Races At Texas Dale Jr. Finishes 12th, Maintains Sixth in Point Standings Kasey Kahne earned his third career victory in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon. Kahne...

Kahne is 11th Different Winner in 11 Nextel Cup Races At Texas
Dale Jr. Finishes 12th, Maintains Sixth in Point Standings

Kasey Kahne earned his third career victory in the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon. Kahne is the first driver to win two races this season, and is the only driver this year to win a race from the Bud Pole position. (He also won from the Bud Pole at Atlanta in March.) Matt Kenseth finished second while Tony Stewart finished third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team ran among the top-20 nearly all afternoon with an ill-handling car. With a pass for position on the final lap for the second week in a row, Dale Jr. finished 12th, and retains his sixth-place position in NASCAR Nextel Cup points after seven races. This is only the second time in eight starts that Dale Jr., who grabbed his first career victories in both the Busch and Cup Series here, has failed to finish in the top-10 at Texas.

Key Moments: Dale Jr. started 15th, and climbed slowly forward, taking 10th place on lap 56. After making several pit stops, the Bud car seemed to struggle more and more in the corners until late into a green flag run. Each restart would see the No. 8 car drop back a spot or two, only to regain form some 30 laps later, and begin passing cars again. A series of yellow flags late in the race eliminated the benefits of a car that improved on long runs, but Dale Jr. was able to make several passes late in the race to finish 12th.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

"It's not really a fun day when the car is tight all afternoon like we were. I just couldn't drive it. But, if that's a bad day for us -- 500 miles of struggling -- and we still finished 12th, that ain't too bad I guess. That shows how far we've come as a group. I'm proud of my team again. They did a nice job of keeping me somewhere near the top-15 all day even when we really weren't that good. I would have liked to have another top-10 here -- we always run good at Texas -- but we just didn't have it all together today. But, a good day for my teammate Martin (Truex Jr., who finished eighth). We were trying a lot of new stuff on the car this weekend, so whatever we learned today will only help us improve in the long-run."

Best Radio Chatter:

Waiting for the command to start the engine on the Budweiser Chevrolet, Dale Jr. was trying to see and hear the large video screens during a pre-taped message from the President.

Dale Jr.: "Is that George W,?!"

Steve Hmiel (spotter): "Yep. The President says 'crank it up June!'"

***

The Bud car suffered from poor handling all afternoon, which meant a lack of extra chatter from the driver and the crew, even under yellow flag periods. Much of the focus for the afternoon was in helping Dale Jr. find the optimal groove around the track. But, they managed to enjoy some of the side-action taking place during a red flag period to repair the wall after a hard crash with Greg Biffle.

Hmiel: "Hey Stiffy (referring to crew chief Tony Eury Jr.), the 2 car took out the 16, and Biffle's girlfriend is down in the 2 pits hollerin' at em!"

Dale Jr.: "Heh heh. I'll bet she's mad as hell. The question is, how far did she have to walk to get there?"

Eury Jr. "We thought it was hilarious. She walked by us but we didn't see where she was goin."

***

Hmiel and Eury Jr. continued to report lap times and commentary to the driver, based upon the line he was taking around turns one and two and again in turns three and four.

Dale Jr: "This set of tires is junk. I can't understand you guys when you talk too much to me. Just don't get so technical -- you can just tell me "good lap" or whatever. I just want to know you're watching the line and paying attention."

Eury Jr:: "10-4. We'll be alright. By the time you go to the top groove, you're usually one of the best cars."

Dale Jr: "But it's too soon in the run to go up there. I need to stay on the bottom when the tires are new, then the car gets better the longer we go. I just need you guys to give me a good pit stop so I don't have to pass 'em all again."

***

A late-race caution for some mysterious unseen debris hampered the charge toward the top-10 for the Bud team that was relying on longer runs to make progress. It also hurt Robby Gordon; whose team uses engines from Dale Earnhardt Inc. Gordon lost a top-10 finish because of being in the pits when the yellow flag fell on lap 314 of 334.

Dale Jr: "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh... (dubious tone) Debris? And Robby just happened to be on pit road."

Hmiel: "Yeah, he was haulin' butt too."

Eury Jr: "What do ya think Junebug -- do you want four tires or maybe take two tires here and gain track position? There's only five guys behind you on the lead lap."

Dale Jr.: "Two?! I don't think so, buddy, I'm pushin' like a truck."

Eury Jr: "Alright that's what I needed to know, four tires."

***

The most excitement of the day for Junior took place on the final lap, as he passed a fading Clint Bowyer (who had taken two tires on the final stop) and then watched in his mirror as Bowyer and Kyle Busch crashed into each other.

Dale Jr: "Damn! Man, did you see that!?"

Hmiel: "Yeah. Did you see that in your mirror?"

Dale Jr.: "Yeah! They hooked each other."

Hmiel: "They sure did!"

-dei-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Robby Gordon , Kasey Kahne , Clint Bowyer , Tony Eury Jr. , Kyle Busch