DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - It was a familiar scene at Daytona International Speedway Friday night as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Michael Waltrip crossed the finish line back-to-back. Earnhardt, the two-time Busch series champion, took the green from the...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - It was a familiar scene at Daytona International Speedway Friday night as Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Michael Waltrip crossed the finish line back-to-back. Earnhardt, the two-time Busch series champion, took the green from the pole position and led every lap to the checkered flag.
"It probably looked real easy," said Earnhardt. "It looked real easy but it wasn't. The challenge tonight for me was the handle on the race car. It was real loose the first 35 laps or whatever, up until we had that first caution. I was just really really loose getting into the corner, but I was still was able to keep up my momentum, and I didn't have to lift or anything.
"It always a little bit of a help to be that loose, because I can run faster, but, as long as it didn't get any worse. So, that was quite a challenge for awhile, that was another good thing about taking the two tires was that it tightened the car up a little bit, and it sure did. The car was just perfect there with the two tires."
It is Earnhardt's 18th career victory in the series, and third consecutive NBS win this season.
"I got some celebrating to do," said Earnhardt. "Hopefully we will have more to do tomorrow night."
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was untouchable during the events 100 laps. Earnhardt piloting the No. 8 Chance2 Motorsports Chevy sporting a DEI power plant under the hood was never threatened for the lead by a single other competitor.
"The car was great," Earnhardt commented. "We stayed up front all night and I didn't think that was possible. It was possible."
Earnhardt pitted once on lap 44 during the events first yellow flag, taking just two-tires. Ensuing cautions two and three would see some of the field come in for adjustments, but not the Chance2 Chevy. Strong from the start, his vehicle remained stealth all evening.
"We just had a super car," said Earnhardt. "I gotta credit the fabricators at DEI, Richie Gilmore in the engine shop, and the guys in Chance2, who are all very young. Due to their positions, they really did a great job putting the car together. It was only a 100 lap race and it kinda went by pretty fast, at least for me. It was just a lot of fun just being able to lead. I don't think I've ever lead every lap at a race before. It was pretty cool."
The only opportunity the other 42 cars had at catching Earnhardt came late in the race at lap 86. After a spin involving Damon Lusk and Brad Baker, the field restarted with ten laps to go. Jamie McMurray and Ron Hornaday attempted to step out of the draft and try and pass the 8 and the 15, to no avail. In the end it was Earnhardt's night.
Michael Waltrip scored his fourth second place finish at a Daytona NBS event.
"It's difficult to run second at a plate race," said Waltrip. "It you're leading, you're just looking out the rear view mirror the whole way, and not even paying attention to where you are going. Just watching the mirror and making sure you block off any runs people get on you, and the only way I could have gotten Jr. is if he would have made a mistake, and he's not going to do that.
"But I was playing the game, and Ron (Hornaday) was playing the game, letting off and trying to get runs. You just have to be really careful, because if you don't time it just right, if you let off at the wrong point then they can pass you. Plus the fact that we only got two tires, my car wasn't handling all that well, it makes for a real mentally tough race to try and figure out all what to do and handle and ill handling car.
"I was hoping to pass him (Earnhardt) on pit road, and be the guy out front, and I don't think the results would have been any different. I think if I would have been out front, he wouldn't have passed me."
Jamie McMurray in the No. 1 Dodge landed third, making the top three a clean sweep by Winston Cup regulars.
"The 2, 21, me and Vickers all said we'd try and get together and make a run on Michael (Waltrip) and the 8 car," said McMurray. "But its so hard to get a run on anyone, and then when you pull out you don't really know if the car is going to go with you or not.
"I was a little bit nervous cause of the 2 in front of me and the 21 behind me; I assumed that they would help each other more than they would help me. But then when you pull out with two laps to go, you just get what you give. There's not really any deals to be made, you just do what you can.not a bad night for us though."
Rounding out the top five were RCR teammates Ron Hornaday and Johnny Sauter.
Outside pole sitter Kasey Kahne encountered back luck on lap 68. Kahne spun the No. 38 Akins Motorsports Ford hitting the wall and bouncing across the racetrack and into the grass. Kahne lost control of his Ford after contact with the No. 7 Evans Motorsports Chevy of Greg Biffle. Kahne was running in the top ten at the time. Kahne finished 38th.
David Green falls to second place in the points after a 20th place finish. He sits just two points behind new leader Scott Riggs. Ron Hornaday is third followed by Todd Bodine and Jason Keller.