Daytona Shootout: Earnhardt Jr race notes

Tony Stewart Grabs Third Budweiser Shootout Win Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Bud Team 14th After Last Lap Crash Tony Stewart won Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, his third victory in the season-opening all-star race. He also won in...

Tony Stewart Grabs Third Budweiser Shootout Win
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Bud Team 14th After Last Lap Crash

Tony Stewart won Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout at Daytona, his third victory in the season-opening all-star race. He also won in 2001 and 2002. Stewart led David Gilliland across the finish line while Kurt Busch finished third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team ran among the lead pack until a pit stop on lap 54 (of 70). Earnhardt Jr. slid through his pit stall and had to reverse the red Bud car, dropping him from fifth place to twelfth. In the final 13 laps, Junior methodically moved up in the field, crossing the line in seventh place on lap 69. Coming to the finish line, Earnhardt got into the back of the car of Elliott Sadler, causing a multi-car crash. The crash dropped Dale Jr. to 14th place in the final results. It is the first time Junior has finished worse than seventh in eight career starts in the Budweiser Shootout.

Key Moments: Dale Jr., starting 17th, needed less than five laps to move into the top-five, then moved into second place by lap seven. Junior stayed among the top-five for the remainder of the initial 20-lap segment of the race. After a 10-minute break, the final 50 laps began with Dale Jr. diving onto pit road to top off with fuel -- making a strategic attempt to complete the final segment without another pit stop. That strategy ended when a yellow flag flew on lap 53. A slow pit stop dropped Junior from fifth place to 12th for the restart. Racing in heavy traffic. Dale Jr. weaved through the pack into seventh place on the final lap before getting into the back of Elliott Sadler's car and getting caught in the multi-car crash.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

"It was my fault. I was really trying hard to help push Elliott (Sadler) and I got into him too soon. It was my mistake, and I apologize and take all the blame for all of the cars that got wrecked."

What did Sadler say to you when you talked after the crash? "He knew what happened. I mean, he's a great guy and we're too good of friends for me to do that to him. I was trying to help push him, and I just hit him before we were on the straightaway. I hate that it happened to him and guys like Denny (Hamlin) that are friends of mine as well.

Did you learn anything for (next week's Daytona) 500? "Yeah. Don't do that again."

What about the rest of your race? "We were great the first segment, but not very good in the second segment. We may have to look at the engine. It seemed like we lost power, so we'll have to see if it dropped a valve. I wanted to run up in the high groove, but no one could get close enough behind me so we could make a run. I ran behind the front four guys for what seemed like forever, but without anyone to help, I couldn't do anything to catch up."

***

Best Radio Chatter:

As the race reached the halfway mark, Dale Jr. attempted to find drafting partners to run in the high groove in turns one and two. Without drafting help, Dale Jr. would rocket off of turn two, but lose momentum on the straightway.

Dale Jr.: "I'm tellin' ya, if we can get people to run the top groove with us, we can haul ass! See if Jimmie (Johnson) will run with me."

Steve Hmiel (spotter): "Jimmie says he'll run with ya up there -- but he can't seem to catch you to help. The 31 (Jeff Burton) is back there too -- he's been running high."

Dale Jr: "We can all run better if they go with me."

Hmiel: "The 31 and 48 are with ya."

Dale Jr.: "OK. Tell 'em the top in turns one and two and then we'll run the bottom in (turns) three and four." We can get a great run on 'em if we're up top in one and two."

Hmiel: "The 31 can't get to your back bumper, and the 48 is going to try and get by him to catch up to you."

Dale Jr.: "When we run the bottom. We suck. My car pushes and Jimmie's car pushes. The engine runs like it's broke. Maybe it ain't. There aren't may people behind us that are very racy -- but that'll change soon--"

-credit: budweiser/dei

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Tony Stewart , David Gilliland , Elliott Sadler