Jarrett wins Michigan - Top 10 for Dale Jr. No. 8 Budweiser Team lead 37 Laps, grab best-ever Michigan finish. Dale Jarrett took home the winner's portion of the purse for Sunday's Michigan 400 after an entertaining race that saw 12 different...
Jarrett wins Michigan - Top 10 for Dale Jr.
No. 8 Budweiser Team lead 37 Laps, grab best-ever Michigan finish.
Dale Jarrett took home the winner's portion of the purse for Sunday's Michigan 400 after an entertaining race that saw 12 different drivers lead the race. Tony Stewart finished second. Among the 12 leaders were Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team, who started from the Bud Pole position and led 37 circuits. Dale Jr. finished 10th, his best career finish in seven Winston Cup races at the high-speed oval in Michigan's Irish Hills outside of Detroit. The Bud Pole position is the first of the season for the No. 8 team, marking their fifth career Bud Pole and secures them a starting spot in the 2003 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, the season-opening all-star event.
The Key Moments: Dale Jr., starting on the Bud Pole for the first time this year and the second time in three seasons at this race, led five times during the afternoon, including a stretch late in the race on laps 171-176 (of 200). The key moment for the Bud bunch took place on the team's final pit stop with 38 laps to go. To gain track position, the team made an aggressive move to take two tires instead of four to remain at or near the head of the pack. The strategy worked, until the final yellow flag of the day with less than 15 laps to go bunched the field, and allowed the teams that had previously chosen to change four tires, such as the eventual winner Jarrett, to close on Earnhardt Jr. The final 11 laps saw the advantage fall to the cars with four fresh Goodyear's to take control.
Dale Jr's Quotes:
"I'm happy with the weekend. A Bud Pole was great - it was a boost that we needed for our confidence, and then to come out and run among the leaders all day long felt really good. I mean, when we felt like we had a shot to win, 10th place doesn't sound so great, but since it's the first time we've been able to leave this place with a top 10, it feels pretty good. This weekend is another step forward for us as a team."
"It was the same for me as it was for the other guys out there: tight. The track here always tightens up and makes it tough on everybody to try to continue to make the right adjustments to the car to keep up with it. If you get behind on your changes, chances are you won't catch up the rest of the day. We were pretty good all afternoon - especially early on. I'm happy - and I'm really excited about going to Bristol next week. We have some momentum that we haven't had for awhile"
Best Radio Conversations:
From the start of the race, even though he led for portions of the day and was always in or near the lead pack, Dale Jr. had a handful of things to deal with in making the car better.
Dale Jr: "Depending on where I run on the track, the car is really quick to push or real easily gets loose. The track also has a lot of trash and wrappers and bags just flying all over the place. You guys need to keep an eye on the grille. If I get any of that stuff on there, let me know and I'll do what I can to get it off"
The team chose to get aggressive and take only two fresh tires on their final pit stop.
Tony Eury Jr. (car chief) "Alright, let's go now. We're gonna take two. Only two."
Dale Jr: "Yeah, I agree. We're goin' for it. Goin' for the win. I like it"
Before the final green flag on lap 189, Dale Jr. sensed that he was a sitting duck in traffic with only two fresh tires and a car that was very sensitive to aerodynamic changes when he was behind other cars.
Dale Jr. "The car just plows when I get up behind anyone. You can't do anything. It's like it just takes all the air out from under me and it just plows along"
Started: 1st (First Bud Pole of 2002, Fifth of Winston Cup career)
Points Position: 16th (+1 gain)
Laps Led: Led five times for 37 laps