Budweiser Season in Review: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser Team in 2007 So much ink has been spilled this season with the drama surrounding Dale Earnhardt and the No. 8 Budweiser team on and off the track, it seems wasteful to...
Budweiser Season in Review: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser Team in 2007
So much ink has been spilled this season with the drama surrounding Dale Earnhardt and the No. 8 Budweiser team on and off the track, it seems wasteful to recount all of the drama and excitement mixed with heartache and hard-feelings. So, we've boiled down the b.s. into a list of numbers that sheds a faint light on the season past.
While mechanical issues and strange crashes (a rear wheel falls off while racing for the win on the next-to-last lap at Atlanta?!) meant they tied for the league's worst mark and set a team record for DNFs (Did Not Finish), Dale Jr. and the bunch ran up front until they stopped - and NASCAR's esoteric "loop data" statistics prove that fact. Despite the troubles, the team and driver ranked among the top-10 overall in 11 separate statistical categories - but the most telling stat of the season is Dale Jr's last-place finish (by a wide margin) among every driver who started a Cup race in 2007 in the category called "closers," which reflects the success (or lack thereof) in the final 10 percent of all races.
Overall, it closes nine great seasons together for Dale Earnhardt Inc., Budweiser and Dale Jr., which will live forever in NASCAR history.
2007 By the Numbers
***All esoteric stats courtesy of NASCAR's Loop Data compilations. Don't worry, we don't know what many of them mean either.***
The team scored one Bud Pole Award - their first since Kansas in 2002 - at the Pocono race in August... Dale Jr. ranked first for the season among all drivers in the "fastest drivers on the straightaways" category. The DEI engines may have been brittle, but they were wicked fast while intact.
The season's best finish for the Budweiser team was second-place at Pocono in August... The Bud boys ranked second among all teams for "fastest green flag speed" during the entire season... The Budweiser team also had two crew chiefs this season, as Tony Eury Jr. headed the corps for much of the season, while Tony Gibson became the man in charge for six races mid-year (after Eury Jr. was suspended for, ahem, a 'technical violation') and then again for the final seven races of the season as Eury Jr. departed for a new position elsewhere.
Dale Jr. ranked fourth overall in "fastest drivers early in a run" for the season - the same ranking he found himself in for "fastest drivers late in a run..." This corresponds to a similar ranking in "fastest drivers on a restart" for the entire season... Dale Jr. finished fourth position on the "fastest speed in traffic" chart... The team ran four memorable special paint schemes: two military-themed cars (camouflage and red-white-blue in honor of America's troops around the world), a retro-1957 Chevy scheme and a white Elvis Presley Special in September....
Dale Jr. was fifth best among all drivers in "fastest laps run," as he was the swiftest of all drivers for 560 laps this year... He managed to rank fifth among all drivers for "laps run in the top-15" despite nine DNFs... Dale Jr. is expected to receive his fifth-consecutive "Most Popular Driver" award this week at the NASCAR festivities in New York City.
A six-pack of Budweiser would taste nice right about now.
The team recorded seven top-five finishes in 2007.
Driver No. 8 ranked eighth overall in "Driver Rating" (a complex mix of all NASCAR loop stat categories)... He also ranked eighth in "average running position" for the season despite the many early departures.
The team suffered nine Did-Not-Finish results in 36 races - tied for the most among all teams. This is more than any other season for Dale Jr. - and marks almost 25% of his career mark of 40 DNF's... Dale Jr. was ninth overall in "miles led" for the season... and ninth among all drivers for "laps on the lead lap."
Dale Jr. was tenth overall for "laps led" as he headed the field for 433 circuits in 2007... He was also tenth among "fastest drivers in the turns."
Dale Jr. was 11th overall in "quality passes made," which are passes under green flag conditions among the top-15 positions.
The Budweiser team had twelve top-10 finishes.
Dale Jr. finished the season 16th in Nextel Cup points, tying his rookie season for lowest season ranking.... He led in 16 of the 36 races.
Dale Jr. ranked last (69th) among all Cup drivers in the "Closers" category - the gain/loss ratings in the final 10% of each race. His rating of -104 was 26 spots worse than the next closest competitor.
Dale Jr's career in the No. 8 Budweiser car included 291 Cup starts... He had 17 victories, 76 top-fives, 120 top-10s, and led 133 of those races while grabbing seven Bud Pole Awards.
The prize money earned by the team (before the year-end Nextel points bonus money).... Amazingly this number matched exactly the number of rumors and hyperbolic media reports about the driver and team this season.
The fond memories since the team's Cup debut in May, 1999, and the numbers of devout fans gained in that time.