Jarrett Wins Darlington, Rough Day for Dale Junior Earnhardt Jr. 34th after Early Contact with Turn Two Wall Dale Jarrett won Sunday's Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington (SC) Raceway, beating the Dale Earnhardt Inc. team with driver Steve Park by...
Jarrett Wins Darlington, Rough Day for Dale Junior Earnhardt Jr. 34th after Early Contact with Turn Two Wall
Dale Jarrett won Sunday's Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington (SC) Raceway, beating the Dale Earnhardt Inc. team with driver Steve Park by slightly more than half-a-second. Jarrett was able to hold off Park in a final seven-lap green flag rush to the finish line. The race had been stopped briefly to clean up debris from a crash involving Mike Skinner, creating the short dash to the end.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team finished 34th after scraping the wall in treacherous turn two on lap 45. Earnhardt Jr. and the Bud team made 13 pit stops in the remaining 248 laps, attempting to correct a bent suspension piece on the right front corner of the car.
The Key Moment: Starting 16th, Dale Jr. ran as high as 12th before sliding into the wall on lap 45. The impact was not enough to permanently disable the No. 8, but it did bend the right front lower A-arm, which impacted the handling of the car severely. For the rest of the race, Dale Jr. merely tried to keep the car from crashing and avoid hampering the leading cars as they lapped him. Junior had his hands full, with the car sliding off of the turns like a small boat being tossed from side-to-side in a violent ocean storm. He was able to make it to the finish, but eight laps behind the leaders.
Dale Jr's Quotes: "I don't really know why I crashed there. The car had been getting tighter (front wheels not turning effectively), but I got up into the turn and it was like glass. I locked the tires, but the nose slid up into the wall.
"We had a good car at the start of the race. Maybe too good- maybe I drove it too hard and hurt the tires. That could be why I crashed. After that, it wouldn't turn at all, especially in turns one and two. I had to just coast around. If I would get back on the gas, it would just wanna go right up into the wall. That was a damn tough day out there. I was hangin' on!"
The Commercial. A special Budweiser commercial featuring Dale Jr. aired for the first time during the race telecast on Fox this afternoon. It will air once per race for the next several weeks as a tribute to his father, the late Dale Earnhardt.
Much of the script was based upon a column that Dale Jr. had written about his father last winter. Dale Jr. wanted to do another tribute to his dad and also wanted to provide a positive message urging race fans to continue to support and enjoy NASCAR racing.
The commercial was shot on a windy, cold day at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, NC, while Dale Jr.recorded his narration the following day in a studio near uptown Charlotte.
Return of Wolfie Bud team member Steve Wolfe, who suffered a badly cut finger during a pit stop last week, returned to action during Sunday's race. Wolfe, who received three stitches on his left ring finger, tested the injured digit Friday and was cleared to participate.
Today's Stats Started: 16th Finished: 34th Current Points Position: 22nd Money Won: $64,138 Laps Led: 0 Best Pit Stop: Lap 214 / Four tires / Fuel in 14.31 seconds