Dale Jr. finishes 11th at Martinsville

Jarrett Wins Again Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser Team Finish 11th Dale Jarrett won his second consecutive Winston Cup race Sunday, passing his teammate Ricky Rudd with only five laps to go for victory in the Virginia 500 at ...

Jarrett Wins Again
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser Team Finish 11th

Dale Jarrett won his second consecutive Winston Cup race Sunday, passing his teammate Ricky Rudd with only five laps to go for victory in the Virginia 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Jarrett's third win of the season extended his point lead to more than 120 markers ahead of Jeff Gordon. No other driver has won more than once this season. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team ran strong all afternoon and finished 11th. It is the best finish for the team at the tiny Martinsville oval (their previous best was 26th), and shows the improving strength of the young, second-year team. The rest of the top five behind Jarrett and Rudd were Jeff Burton, Bobby Hamilton and Sterling Marlin.

The Key Moment: The Bud team chose to stay on the track and not pit for fresh tires on the final yellow flag of the day on lap 451 (of 500). The decision moved them from 15th to 9th place, and allowed them to finish ahead of many cars that chose to pit for tires. The 11th place finish was met with joy and excitement by the team, who fought all day to remain among the lead pack of cars. The tiny oval track, combined with very hot temperatures, made the race similar to a heavyweight boxing match, with 43 bruisers beating and banging on each other toe-to-toe for 500 grueling, painful laps. While many cars finished the race looking as if they were destined for the scrap heap, the red Bud car completed the event with very little damage.

Dale Jr's Quotes:

About racing Jerry Nadeau for the final top 10 spot: "I wanted a top 10 so bad, and the team was telling me on the radio to go get him those last couple of laps. I really could have spun him out the last couple of corners, but I don't want to race that way and I don't wanna earn spots like that. We improved our best finish here by 15 spots, and to have such a good car the last 150 laps or so shows how we're improving on tracks where we struggled last season."

About the extreme conditions: "Before the race, Tony (Eury) Jr. (Bud team car chief) told me I couldn't win it if I didn't finish, so I tried to take care of the car. The brakes are so critical here but I still wheeled it as hard as I could. I told the crew that there wasn't a track big enough for as hard as I was wheeling that Bud car. The brakes and the engines get so hot, it takes your breath away if you stand within a few feet of the car, so imagine sitting inside that thing for 500 laps. I'm outta here, we've got a weekend off."

About hitting the wall in turn two before lap 200: "I hit it really hard with the right rear of the car.The car was loose coming off of the turn and it hit so hard that the car came clear off the ground. I can't believe it didn't hurt it worse than it did…"

Another Good Start

Dale Jr.and the No. 8 Bud team earned their third consecutive top 10 starting position during Friday's Bud Pole qualifying session. Dale Jr. grabbed his best-ever starting spot at Martinsville with the 10th best qualifying lap.

Points Points Points

Although the team only gained one position in the point standings, they managed to continue to close the gap on many that are ahead of them. Following today's race, Dale Jr. is 19th in points, but is less than 100 points out of 10th place.

Today's Stats
Started: 10th
Finished:11th
Current Points Position: 19th
Money Won: $71,233
Laps Led: 0
Best Pit Stop: Lap 231 / 14.35 seconds / 4 tires and fuel / wedge adjustment

SUPER SIZE RACE REPORT COVERAGE

Best Team Radio Chatter of the Day (during yellow flag period, lap 365)

Dale Jr: (complaining about the heat and the team handing him a dry rag during a pit stop rather thanan ice pack.) "If I had wanted a dry rag, I woulda used my Budweiser hat. It is hotter than hell in here. You guys just stay there in the pit -- just relax there. You don't want ANY of this (stuff) out here. You think you guys are hot there?! Don't even think about comin' out here!

Tony Eury Jr: (laughing) "Ya know, the air is much cooler up there at the front of the field!

Dale Jr: "I'm waitin' on you guys to help me get there!"

Tony Jr: "We're tryin'!

Dale Jr.: "You guys just relax there with your cold drinks and wet rags over your head."

Tony Jr: (teasing Dale Jr. about riding home after the race in the DEI helicopter) "Yeah,a wet rag is the only luxury we get. None of us get to ride in the fancy paddle-whopper (helicopter) after the race."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Hamilton , Dale Jarrett , Sterling Marlin , Jerry Nadeau