Chicagoland: Dale Earhardt Jr race report

Newman takes Chicago victory, Dale Jr. uninjured in crash No. 8 Budweiser Team fast, but crash ends afternoon Ryan Newman scored win number three for 2003, as he won Sunday's Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL. Tony Stewart ...

Newman takes Chicago victory, Dale Jr. uninjured in crash
No. 8 Budweiser Team fast, but crash ends afternoon

Ryan Newman scored win number three for 2003, as he won Sunday's Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL. Tony Stewart was second and Jimmie Johnson was third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was uninjured in a single-car crash on lap 206 (of 267), and the Budweiser team finished the day in the garage with a 38th place finish. The finish drops Dale Jr. one position in the Winston Cup points standings, as he is now third behind Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon at the season's halfway point (18 of 36 races).

The Key Moments:

The Budweiser team started the afternoon from the 16th position, and gradually improved their spot in the field with a fast car and saavy pit strategy. Dale Jr. climbed into the top-10 by lap 20, turning laps consistently quicker than the rest of the field. A two-tire pit stop on lap 83 launched them into the fourth position, but their good fortune began to wane when the Budweiser car was hit by a chunk of metal from the No. 4 car of Johnny Sauter. Sauter's car deposited an array of debris on the track when the right rear tire exploded. The corresponding pit stop for repairs to the nose of the car dropped Dale Jr. to 18th position. The team again utilized an aggressive pit strategy to get back into the top 10, then made what was scheduled to be their final pit stop of the day on lap 198, but the changes to the car were not what the doctor (or the chassis) ordered. Dale Jr. dropped to 14th place with a loose handling racecar before spinning and hitting the wall in turn two with the rear of the Bud car on lap 206.

Dale Jr's Quotes:

"I'm OK. No problem there. The car was just too loose. I about crashed in every corner after that last stop, and I couldn't hang on. Whooo 0x2022 I was outta control. It just spun around. The car had been tight, and we really loosened it up there. Maybe too much, I guess. That's how it goes. You know, I'm not worried about the points or anything, because we were fast again today and we're still having our best season ever. It happens, and ya can't worry about it. I'm still really optimistic about the year we're having."

Best Radio Conversations

Dale Jr. was among the quickest cars on the track throughout the first 200 laps of the race, but suffered from a stray list of incidents and problems, starting with a severe vibration that began before the team made the first pit stop of the day on lap 63.

Tony Eury Jr. (car chief)

"You were right about that vibration. The left rear tire had several lug nuts that were loose. It didn't hurt the studs or anything, so ya should be good to go..."

Dale Jr: (jokingly)

"Sabotage! You boys better be watching this car every morning before the race!... I was pretty good there by myself. I could run as fast as anybody, but track position is HUGE here- you wouldn't believe it. I tried running the high line and about busted my (butt), but I think we might be able to use that line to our advantage later on..."

After running over debris from the Sauter car on lap 106.

Dale Jr:

"We ran over something! I have a flat tire and a big piece of metal went under the car."

Tony Jr. (after the pit stop for repairs):

"You were right, I think the right front tire had a hole in it. And we fixed the valance (on the nose of the car). You would NOT have liked it if we hadn't fixed that. The boys got ya fixed up."

Understatement of the day...

Dale Jr. (one lap before his crash on lap 206)

"You guys sure loosened her up, I'll tell ya that!"

Best Celeb Visitors:

Members of the Atlanta Braves visited the Budweiser pit area, including Chipper Jones and Terry Pendelton.

Hey Now, You're an All-Star:

Dale Jr. will make his third consecutive appearance at festivities leading up to the Major League Baseball All-Star game in Chicago. Dale Jr. will take batting practice at US Cellular Field Monday morning before making appearances at FanFest and the Home Run Derby Monday afternoon. Budweiser is the official beer of Major League Baseball.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Johnny Sauter , Tony Eury Jr.