Dover II: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Budweiser Team Ninth at Dover, Newman Wins Dale Jr. Third Place in Points Ryan Newman won Sunday's MBNA 400 at Dover International Speedway, dominating the afternoon by leading 325 of 400 laps. Mark Martin was second, followed by Jeff Gordon in...

Budweiser Team Ninth at Dover, Newman Wins
Dale Jr. Third Place in Points

Ryan Newman won Sunday's MBNA 400 at Dover International Speedway, dominating the afternoon by leading 325 of 400 laps. Mark Martin was second, followed by Jeff Gordon in third place. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team spent much of the day in the top-10, but struggled near the end of the race to finish ninth, one lap behind Newman. It is the 17th top-10 finish of the season for Dale Jr. The finish, combined with five bonus points for leading a lap, places Dale Jr. third in the Nextel Chase for the Cup after two of ten races. Earnhardt Jr. trails leader Gordon by 18 points and Kurt Busch by 17 points heading into next week's race at Talladega. The Bud team has finished either first or second place in the last six Talladega Cup races.

Key Moments: Starting 16th, Dale Jr. made a gradual climb into the top-10, taking advantage of several lightning-quick pit stops. After a red-flag on lap 122, the team made a third strong stop, gaining five positions into fifth place at the restart. The top-five run continued until a stop on lap 264. Despite making very small changes to tire pressure, the red No. 8 began to exhibit less-than-friendly characteristics in the last 130 laps. The team managed to stay on the lead lap until lap 392.

Dale Jr. Quotes: "We had a really good racecar today, and it just went to junk on the last two sets of tires. We made no other changes, and it just became a totally different car. Usually if the car starts off loose (on new tires), it will gradually tighten up as the air pressures change. But, at the end, there were no moments where it was even close to handling the way it had been during the first half of the race. It was runnin' good, and then it was so rough, with the way we sit in these seats, it almost beat the armpits offa me."

"Ninth? We finished ninth? Well, I'll take that. It keeps us close in the chase and I think it's going to take a steady run of top-10s and top-fives to win this thing. It was a frustrating way to finish the day, but we'll be OK..."

Best Radio Chatter:
Before the race began:
Dale Jr.: (to spotter Steve Hmeil, whose son Shane won his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race Saturday night) "Hey, congratulations on your boy winning."

Steve Hmeil: "Thank you. I thought he was gonna be third but he really came up through there and won it!"

During the red flag period:
Dale Jr.: "Tony (Eury) Jr., you must have metal in your head because I can never hear you on the radio. I only hear about half of what you say... (complaining about the brakes on the car) The boys who did these brakes, we need to send them back to school."

(The team then attached Tony Jr's radio to a long antenna and lifted it high into the air.)
Tony Eury Jr: "OK, ya gotta copy now? I've got a 12-foot antenna next to me."

Dale Jr: "Yeah, I got a copy for now..."

As the race entered the final 50 laps, and lapped traffic became an issue:
Hmeil: "OK, the 41 (Casey Mears) says he's just going to ride around behind ya. He's a few laps back and he won't give you any trouble."

Dale Jr. : "Sweet!"

Today's Stats
Started: 16th
Finished: 9th (-1 lap)
Led: One time for 1 lap (Lap 263)
Points: 3rd (18 points behind leader)
Best Pit Stop: Stop #2 of 6 / Lap 49 / four tires and fuel / 12.47 seconds

-budweiser/dei-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Casey Mears , Mark Martin