Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who suffered second-degree burns during a practice crash in the American Le Mans Series race at Sonoma last weekend, has handed over the No. 8 DEI Chevy after 62 laps at New Hampshire International Speedway. Earnhardt and...
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who suffered second-degree burns during a practice crash in the American Le Mans Series race at Sonoma last weekend, has handed over the No. 8 DEI Chevy after 62 laps at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Earnhardt and Team 8 had planned all weekend to limit Earnhardt's time in the car so as not to aggravate his injuries. Busch series points leader and Chance2 Motorsports driver, Martin Truex, Jr. took over the No. 8 car to complete the race.
The crew left it up to Earnhardt whether or not he would wait for the first caution to make the driver swap, or come down pit road under green flag conditions. He toughed it out, even though Earnhardt complained to his team that burn dressings on his legs and neck were becoming wet, hot and uncomfortable.
The No. 8 Chevy went a lap down at lap 54, when leader Ryan Newman motored past Earnhardt's ride. Several of the other front runners also passed Earnhardt, as he struggled to await the day's first yellow, which took an unusually long time to appear.
The yellow finally came out at lap 59, when Elliott Sadler and Ricky Craven bumped in turn three, sending Craven into the wall. At the time, Earnhardt was the "lucky dog" and was placed back on the lead lap.
Earnhardt brought the No. 8 Chevy down pit road, to make the awaited driver swap with Truex. Tony Eury, Jr. was instrumental in orchestrating the "swap", as they arranged for jackman Jeff Clarke to pull Earnhardt out of the car. In preparation, Earnhardt began to unbuckle some of his safety gear as he rounded the track waiting to pit.
All in all, the stop happened very swiftly. Truex, however, then had to bring the No. 8 Chevy back down pit road for tires and pit service. Truex rejoined the field on the tale end of the lead lap, keeping the Budweiser Chevy in contention.