Earnhardt domination at restrictor plate race tracks has been reenergized. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. led 88 of 103 laps to earn his first Busch win of the season in his second start this year. Earnhardt, at times, led by a fourteen second advantage ...
Earnhardt domination at restrictor plate race tracks has been reenergized.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. led 88 of 103 laps to earn his first Busch win of the season in his second start this year. Earnhardt, at times, led by a fourteen second advantage until a rash of late race cautions slowed his charge.
He was able to keep the No. 8 Chevrolet's nose out front and while he could not mount the lead he enjoyed in the races early laps, Earnhardt's ride was clearly the class of the field.
"I know that wasn't probably the race the guys might have tuned in to see, but I had such a good car," said Earnhardt. "I just had to hold it to the mat and do what I could do with it. At the end, the competition got better. We tightened the car up too much. But we were able to hold them back."
He was unchallenged as the race wound down, easily grabbing his 10th overall victory at DIS.
"It was really, really loose all night," Earnhardt explained. "But the race was fun for me. Hopefully next year will be more competitive. They needed to bring a better tire. It was a little hard."
Brian Vickers was second, "It was a good run. We had a good car. We were really unsure of the handling in practice. We were all over the place.my Cup car felt good compared to the Busch car and I was worried. But once I got in the race I realized that everyone was in the same boat.everyone was sliding all over the place."
Kevin Harvick, whose crew chief Shane Wilson was ejected from the race track Friday after an unapproved aerodynamic modification was found on the No. 21 Chevy, was forced to start at the rear of the field as part of the penalty; but Harvick quickly shot to the front.
"It was a good night for us," said Harvick. "We had to start at the back.we didn't quite have anything for the 8."
Vickers and Harvick both expressed their distaste for the new tire the Busch league used for this race; feeling that they did not create competitive racing.
"The tire kind of screwed up the race tonight," Harvick explained. "They were horrible. That's probably the worst race we've seen at Daytona in the Busch series for five years. It's usually the most exciting race. It shows how much tires can screw up the race."
Pole sitter JJ Yeley and Carl Edwards complete the top five.
"Thanks to Goodyear for making the race good with the tires," a facetious Edwards remarked.
The first half of the race was relatively quiet with Earnhardt dominating the field; leading by a five second advantage. A debris caution at lap 56 slowed the No. 8 Chevy but he once again jumped out to a sizeable lead when a multi-car crash erupted at lap 61.
Involved in the incident were Reed Sorenson, Clint Bowyer, Paul Tracey, Jason Leffler, Danny O'Quinn, Kevin Lepage, Johnny Sauter and Ashton Lewis, Jr. A severed piece of fence at crossover gate seven forced NASCAR to red flag the event at lap 64.
After a 12 minute delay, the race restarted on lap 67.
Two laps later, the evening's second multi-car melee broke out, involving Denny Hamlin, Michael Waltrip, Edwards, Paul Menard, Jay Sauter, Stephen Leicht, and Regan Smith. The incident sparked after Edwards bump drafted Waltrip in the corner causing Waltrip to spin in front of oncoming traffic.
Edwards, who had no damage to his car, was penalized one lap for aggressive driving. He got the lucky dog a few laps later and was able to get back on the lead lap.
Earnhardt was still leading on the restart at lap 75 but cautions breed cautions and on lap 81 the fourth yellow fell for debris. They restarted on lap 84 as Earnhardt continued his sprint.
Earnhardt's dash for the finish was interrupted when Leffler spun with three to go causing the fifth caution and a green/white/checker finish. A wreck by Hamlin on the apron with two to go didn't require a caution allowing Earnhardt to sail to his 21rst Busch series victory.
He ties his late father and Harry Gant in career Busch series wins.
"Tying my Dad in anything is pretty damn awesome for me," said an elated Earnhardt.
Harvick continues to lead Busch series points. Edwards (-388), Bowyer (- 423), Hamlin (-431), and Yeley (-452) complete the top five.