Charlotte II: Dale Earnhardt Jr. race summary

Shocker at Charlotte: McMurray wns in second start; no. 8 Budweiser Team ninth. The same team and the same car won the UAW-GM 500 for the second year in a row Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, but it was a different man behind the...

Shocker at Charlotte: McMurray wns in second start; no. 8 Budweiser Team ninth.

The same team and the same car won the UAW-GM 500 for the second year in a row Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, but it was a different man behind the wheel. Much different. Jamie McMurray, driving in place of the injured Sterling Marlin (who won this race last season), grabbed a remarkable victory in only his second Winston Cup career start, setting a modern-day record for quickest first win. The 26-year-old McMurray, who has yet to win a race in the NASCAR Busch Series where he had been racing full-time until being tabbed to fill-in for Marlin, led the final 30 laps impressively, holding off 2000 Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte and current points leader Tony Stewart for the shocking win. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser race team had one of the fastest race cars throughout much of the rain-delayed race, finishing ninth after leading for six laps. It is the sixth top-10 finish for the Bud team in the last nine races. In addition to winning the race last week at Talladega, Dale Jr. has now led in each of the last four Winston Cup events.

The Key Moments: Dale Jr. and the Bud team started 13th for the second week in a row (based on Winston Cup points) as Mother Nature washed out Bud Pole qualifying as she had the week before. When the race finally began after a nearly three-hour rain delay, it took very little time for the red No. 8 to streak into the top 10, reaching the seventh position1``before the first pit stops of the day. The car lacked grip early in the race, causing it to feel as if it were liable to spin out at any moment in each corner, so the team made an extra pit stop during the first caution period of the day on lap 138. The extra stop corrected the handling difficulties, and made the Bud car the fastest machine on the track. The fresh tires launched Dale Jr. through the field and into the lead on lap 206. He held the point until pitting again six laps later. The day went from promising to frustrating on lap 223, as Dale Jr. slid through his pit box and was forced to back up before receiving service from the Bud crew. The slow stop dropped him to the 14th position, and he spent the final 100 laps clawing his way through the pack into his finishing position. The ninth place finish (along with five bonus points for leading) leaves him 13th in points, but he will likely pass the injured Marlin in the standings following the race next week at Martinsville.

Dale Jr's Quotes: "Another top 10 is great. We were fast, but just didn't do it in the pits. At the end there, we stayed out for a long time before pitting because we were out of sequence, and if we had caught a yellow flag, we would have put most all of those guys one lap behind us. But, we didn't get the yellow we were hoping for and I think we made up five or six positions in the last 20-some laps. It's fun to race like that when you have a fast car and you can make passes and race hard with guys like that. The field got a little spread out at the end, so we had to go out and just track down each guy one-by-one. That's not as easy as it looks because of the aerodynamics of these carsIt's tough to pass. That's fun for me in the driver's seat, although it took us about half of the race to get the car to where we could really run hard without having to worry about the back end swingin' around and biting us"

Best Radio Conversations Because of rain, the race started several hours later than scheduled, and caused NASCAR to start the race under the yellow flag, allowing the cars to dry the track with their hot exhaust. On the third lap under the slow conditions, Dale Jr. reported on his race car while traveling approximately 60 mph.

Dale Jr. : "The car drives really really good so far. No changes on the next pit stop. It's great, I can hold it down right along the bottom here in the corners I'm just ridin' around out here just waiting until later to make a move"

Once the race got up to high speeds, the Bud car was not quite so perfect. Dale Jr. tried to describe its' characteristics to the crew.

Dale Jr: "The car feels so loose. Like I have no grip in the rear and I just don't have a good feel for the right side of the chassis. When we've run well here, it felt like I had a little more support on the right side and more overall grip. Now, I'm going into the turn and it feels like the porch is falling off the right side of the house... Goin' into the corners, one of the tires is bouncin', and I don't mean skipping, I mean honest-to-goodness basketball dribblin'. I'm gonna crash if we don't fix it."

Soon after, the Performance Racing Network radioed a few questions to Dale Jr. during the yellow flag period.

Dale Jr: "I don't think I can adequately express my feelings about the car on national radio, but hopefully we'll get better and I'll be happier later on"

After the second pit stop of the night, Dale Jr. pulled out of his pit stall and was nearly slammed into by the damaged car of Bill Elliott, who was limping into his stall after hitting the wall. Dale Jr. was not pleased about the near miss and about not being warned by his team

Dale Jr.: "Guys, you gotta call me out of the pits there! I've got enough to worry about steering and shifting and braking and all, so you can't do that to me! That's a scary deal it like some sorta Halloween haunted house where they jump out at'cha Help me here Help me!"

A 10-car crash happened right behind Dale Jr. on lap 229, and perhaps the fact that he was right in front of the crash prompted a stream-of-consciousness commentary from the driver

Dale Jr: "Man! That was a big crash! SLAM! BAM! SMASH! They were jumpin' over each other! Wild! That annihilated half the field It looks like he got on the grass and took 'em all out (half bragging, half joking) But, it doesn't compare to my wild ride through the grass at Daytona (in Feb. of this year, when Dale Jr. somehow wheeled a car through the infield grass at nearly 180 mph with a flat rear tire). I don't know about y'all but it was miraculous from my seat! When ya blow out a front tire, you're just gonna hit the wall, but when that rear tire blew, that S.O.B. did its' own thing. I was just hangin' on and wheelin' it!... (like a race announcer) But, this is where that Dale Jarrett car gets good and he comes back for a surprise win!"

Ty Norris (spotter) "Bodine said they checked up in front of him that's why he crashed 'em all..."

Dale Jr.: "Yeah, maybe he meant AFTER the contact slammin' and slidin' maybe they checked up then Oh, did the 'Skins (Washington Redskins) lose? Wait- don't tell me. I don't think I can handle it"

Today's Stats
Started: 13th
Finished: 9th
Points Position: 13th (no change)
Money Won: $89,300
Laps Led: 1 time for 6 laps
Best Pit Stop: Lap 212 / Stop #5 of 8 / 4 tires, Fuel / 13.65 seconds


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Dale Jarrett , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Sterling Marlin , Jamie McMurray