Earnhardt Jr. Loudon day ends early

Jeff Burton led every one of the 300 laps to win Sunday's Dura-Lube 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Point leader Bobby Labonte was second, followed by Ricky Rudd in third. Burton is the first driver to lead every lap of a Winston...

Jeff Burton led every one of the 300 laps to win Sunday's Dura-Lube 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway. Point leader Bobby Labonte was second, followed by Ricky Rudd in third. Burton is the first driver to lead every lap of a Winston Cup race since 1978. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was among the leaders all afternoon until being caught up in the midst of a crash on a lap 288 re-start, leaving the Budweiser Chevrolet (and his hopes for a top ten finish) in a crumpled heap against the turn two wall. Earnhardt Jr., who was uninjured, was running 11th and was the leading rookie at the time of the crash, but finished 31st in the final standings.

Starting 20th, Earnhardt Jr. swooped and sliced his way into the top ten in only 13 laps, and remained among the lead lap cars all afternoon. While making a late-race re-start on lap 288, Mark Martin and Jerry Nadeau tangled, spinning across the track, collecting the red No. 8 Bud car against the outside wall. Earnhardt Jr. was dejected but uninjured.

Dale Junior : About the crash: "I just went the wrong way. I was in the outside line of (lead-lap) cars, and all I saw was smoke. I tried to go high to miss it but I hit the 25 (Nadeau) car and then we were in the wall."

"I am so damn disappointed. I'm disgusted. We had a good car today - we were as fast as the leaders, but we just couldn't get track position to get up there to challenge them. I don't know what I have done to get all this bad luck. We were set for a great day -- it looked like we were gonna gain in points and in the rookie (of the year) deal."

About using a restrictor-plate engine on the 1-mile New Hampshire oval: "I guess we had fun because we got our car working well. You just couldn't pass very easily. You just weren't gonna pass any of them boys without bumpin' 'em outta the way, and I just can't do that every lap. You had to wait and be patient until they made a mistake. The tires were comfortable on the long runs - the tires haven't been worth a damn lately and the restrictor plates finally slowed us down enough where the tires could handle the speed. It was real consistent on long runs and we made a change on our first stop that the car didn't like, but we changed the car back on the second pit stop and it was pretty good. It was a brand new chassis - so I'm just sick for the guys at the DEI shop that have to re-build it."

About contact with Bill Elliott that sent Elliott into the wall: "I felt bad about that, but he really turned right into me. I was up there alongside of him pretty far and he just turned down. I know he's out there racing hurt (with a broken leg), so maybe I shouldn't have been racing him that hard, but I thought he knew I was there."

About radio interference that interrupted the team's communications all afternoon: "That sucked. I couldn't hear the spotter or the guys in the pits and they couldn't hear me most of the time. It was like an internet chat room or something - everybody trying to talk all at once. I kept hearing people asking about credit cards and selling souvenirs and we kept asking them to get off our frequencies. I guess they couldn't hear us as well as we could hear them."

Dura Lube 300 Race Notes

A video crew from MTV began shooting a documentary about Dale Jr. this weekend at Loudon. The one hour show, part of an MTV series entitled "True Life," will examine Dale Jr's life outside of the race car as well as his relationships with his father, his race team and competitors such as Matt Kenseth. The video crew will attend several upcoming races and will also spend a week with Dale Jr. during the upcoming race event in Charlotte. The special is slated to debut sometime in February 2001, prior to the running of the Daytona 500.

Dale Jr. and members of the Budweiser team will be on the sidelines tomorrow night when the Washington Redskins clash with the Dallas Cowboys on NFL Monday Night Football. Dale Jr is a long-time Redskins fanatic while Bud team car chief Tony Eury Jr. is equally as fervent about the Cowboys.

Dale Jr. dropped two positions to 16th in the Winston Cup point standings with the 31st place finish. The late-race crash also stole a golden opportunity to gain points in the rookie of the year standings. Stacy Compton was the top-finishing rookie (16th), while Kenseth finished 17th. Kenseth leads Earnhardt Jr. by 23 points in the rookie race.


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Bill Elliott , Bobby Labonte , Jerry Nadeau , Stacy Compton , Tony Eury Jr. , Mark Martin