Who would have thought Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s weekend could have gotten any better? After an emotional win Sunday in the Daytona 500, just three years after his father died there in a last lap crash, Earnhardt Jr. dominated the rescheduled Busch ...
Who would have thought Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s weekend could have gotten any better? After an emotional win Sunday in the Daytona 500, just three years after his father died there in a last lap crash, Earnhardt Jr. dominated the rescheduled Busch series event.
Earnhardt led when the field resumed action after a two-day rain delay Monday morning at lap 32. A poor pit stop however, sent the No. 8 from first to 16th. It took Earnhardt until lap 90 to get back to the front of the field, but once the No. 8 car was out in clean air the competition was toast. Further reinforcing the DEI dominance on restrictor plate racetracks.
Earnhardt looked tired and overwhelmed as he exited his Chevy in victory circle to the accolades of his team. It will be a long week for Earnhardt, as he becomes NASCAR's media darling, with scheduled appearances on The Today Show, Letterman, and various other media outlets.
After his win yesterday, Earnhardt had an early morning. A championship breakfast at 8:00 am kicked off his Monday morning, followed by the induction of his Daytona 500 winning car into Daytona USA. Earnhardt looked surprisingly perky, considering the merriment that erupted Sunday evening.
When asked if he got any sleep, Earnhardt commented, "A little, but it's like the guy who goes into a gas station and buys a dollar's worth of gas, just enough to get where he needs to go."
Hopefully he will have time to recoup before Rockingham next weekend, Earnhardt said yesterday that if he won the Busch race, "the party might never end." If any team has earned the right to celebrate it is Team DEI; Earnhardt Jr. has won 9 events at Daytona. His father, the seven time Winston Cup champion, won 34.
Monday's win was Earnhardt Jr.'s fourth consecutive Busch series win, one short of his father's all-time record of five.
"We're going to go for five," Earnhardt said. "Heck, we'll go for six, seven, eight -- as many as we can."
"I knew this thing was really strong after Saturday," said Sauter. "I hate it that Junior won again. I mean I am happy for him, but I hate it."
Robby Gordon earned his best ever career finish in a Busch race, with third but had to fight off Kevin Harvick to maintain the spot. Harvick finished fourth.
"It was fun," said Harvick. "I was just telling Robby (Gordon) and Johnny (Sauter) that that is how it is supposed to be, beating and banging and having a good time."
Reigning Winston Cup champion Matt Kenseth completes the top five.
"Junior had such a strong car," said Kenseth. "He could just stay out there by himself."
The season opening Busch event was red flagged for rain after just 31 laps on Saturday, and postponed until Monday morning. Two mutli-car crashes plagued the event, the first on just lap 11 on Saturday.
Mike Bliss lost control and spun in the middle of the pack in turn two. All in all, seven cars were involved in the incident, including Johnny Benson, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne, Wally Dallenbach, Joe Nemechek, Jason Leffler and C.W. Smith.
No driver injuries occurred, Dallenbach took the worst hit -- head-on into the wall. The TV commentator and part-time NASCAR racer confirmed that he was OK, saying, "That was the hardest hit I've ever had."
During the series of following pit stops, the No. 17 of Matt Kenseth and the No. 46 of Ashton Lewis, Jr. made contact on pit road. Kenseth was forced to return to pit lane several times to make repairs to his Ford.
The second big crash occurred at lap 42 on Monday, and involved 11 cars including the Chance2 No. 81 Chevy of pole sitter Martin Truex, Jr.