No. 8 Budweiser Team Seventh in The Winston Jeff Gordon Wins in Back-Up Car, Junior Charges from Last to 7th in the Final 10 Laps Jeff Gordon won Saturday's night's rain-delayed Winston all-star race, driving a back-up car that the team had...
No. 8 Budweiser Team Seventh in The Winston Jeff Gordon Wins in Back-Up Car, Junior Charges from Last to 7th in the Final 10 Laps
Jeff Gordon won Saturday's night's rain-delayed Winston all-star race, driving a back-up car that the team had rushed into service after their primary car was damaged in a lap-one crash. The first lap of the race was mayhem, as a sudden rain fell on the track in turns one and two, making the surface as slick as petroleum jelly. Because of the special rules for the event, all of the teams that crashed on the initial start were allowed to restart the race with back-up cars after the lengthy rain delay. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team were able to skate past the Keystone Kops-style carnage on lap one, and finished seventh. In the last six events, the Bud team has finished no worse than 11th place.
The Key Moment: The Winston, which was won last year by Dale Jr. (the only rookie ever to win the event), is a unique format of two 30-lap segments followed by a final 10-lap sprint to the finish line. The Bud team struggled with the set-up on the specially painted Major League Baseball All-Star Game car for the first two segments of the race, falling to last place by lap 60. A pit stop to change tires and make chassis adjustments proved to be a huge improvement, launching the red and white car from 20th to 7th in the final 10 laps.
Dale Jr's Quotes: "That race was a total blast! The fans were going crazy. I think all of the races should be like that --line us up right out there by the fans and crank it up!
"We just missed the set-up for the first 60 laps. But, we hit on it at the end, and the last ten laps felt like old times out there. We were great, easily the fastest car on the track, and I could pass cars on the outside line. Until then, I was just doing all I could to keep it off the fence. The car would roll over so hard onto the right side tires in the corners that my eyes hurt from trying to see my way around the turns. It felt like I was looking out the driver's side window."
Best Team Radio Chatter ofthe Day
Talking about the mayhem and action in the first turn of the race when sudden rain made the track extremely slick and hazardous: Dale Jr : "Whoa man, we missed that one. It was so wet you wouldn't believe it. Everybody was just wheelin' it; sliding and turning back and forth. That was some crazy (expletive deleted). If that's what it's like dirt racin,' then that's all right with me. Slidin'and hangin' on, I'm down with that! Nobody was hooked up there - every last one of us... Hey, Tony Jr. (Eury, team car chief), did you see me on TV? Did I look pretty?!"
Tony Jr: "Yeah man, you looked real professional!"
Dale Jr.: "I knew it was going to be slick, so I shifted to second (gear) early at the start. We chugged along, Steve Park was beside us and then he disappeared." (Park nearly spun on the wet surface.)
After trying to start the race again, only to see the rain return: Dale Jr: "Don't let 'em throw the green flag again here, it'll happen all over again. Let me explain it to ya: when it's raining, the ground gets wet, OK?!
After the long rain delay, and prior to the re-start of the race: Ty Norris (team spotter): "OK Dale Jr., you got your adrenaline back?!"
Dale Jr: "Hell yeah. I got plenty!"
After the car had turned evil during the second segment of the race: Dale Jr: (with ever-increasing urgency and an increasingly high pitch in his voice) "I'm getting a really bad vibration here. It just jumps when I touch the brake pedal. It's really really really really loose getting into the corner, and it's really really really really loose off of the corner. Something's really wrong here. I'm gonna crash!"