Close, But No Million for Budweiser Team Dale Jr. and No. 8 Bud Team Third as Rudd Wins at Richmond Ricky Rudd won Saturday night's Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, passing Kevin Harvick with five laps to go....
Close, But No Million for Budweiser Team
Dale Jr. and No. 8 Bud Team Third as Rudd Wins at Richmond
Ricky Rudd won Saturday night's Monte Carlo 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, passing Kevin Harvick with five laps to go. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Budweiser team were eligible to win a million dollar bonus from series sponsor Winston if they won the race, but fell just short of their goal, scoring a strong third-place finish. It is the sixth top-three finish of the season for the team, and it also makes them eligible for another shot at the million-dollar bonus at the next Winston No-Bull Five event at Talladega in October. The third-place finish strengthens the team's grip on seventh in Winston Cup points, and pulls them within 131 points of third position.
The Key Moment: Starting 8th, the key moment may have come on lap 71, as Dale Jr. slid past the car of Ward Burton into fifth place. From that point forward, Dale Jr. was among the top five positions for the remainder of the 400-lap race. The red No. 8 was always fast, but was never quite perfect, which prevented Dale Jr. from taking the lead, but allowed him to race much of the night in second and third.
Dale Jr's Quotes:
"We're frustrated because we really wanted to win that million dollars. We were good, but never quite good enough to take the lead. We could keep up with anybody, but the car was tight in the center of the corners, which meant that we weren't able to get up underneath any of the faster cars and make a pass. It was good team effort -- we had a great new car and we just missed it slightly. Hey -- we're gonna have to go out and win that million dollars at Talladega.
"I think it was a great race -- the fans must have enjoyed it. I think I had the best seat in the house to watch Harvick and Rudd beat and bang with each other there at the end. I was hoping that maybe they'd take each other out and we'd be sitting here with a million bucks. I was pulling for Kevin to win it, but congratulations to Ricky. They did a good job.
"This is a great night for us -- we need the points. Our team is getting more and more consistent and we're getting stronger every week. We're young, but I know that every week my team is going to get me up there near the front. Our strategy, our pit stops and the whole program is improving all the time. I mean, to somebody else, they may look like any other crew, but to me, these are guys that I grew up with, so it's a big deal to me."
Return of the Radio Chatter (the best moments of radio conversation during the race)
Dale Jr. and Rusty Wallace have waged hard-fought battles on the race track ever since Dale Jr. joined Winston Cup in the Budweiser car in 1999. The two drivers were locked in a side-by-side battle for second position for five laps just past the 100-lap mark. Dale Jr. eventually got past Wallace on lap 107, and then commented on the battle when the yellow flag flew on lap 111.
Dale Jr.: (referring to his Budweiser sponsorship versus Rusty's brand-x sponsorship): "Yeah! My beer is better than your beer! Rusty and I always race the hell outta each other!"
Ty Norris:(team spotter) (laughing at the comments) "Yeah buddy! that was predictable!"
Dale Jr: "Heh heh, yeah -- it's a lot more fun for me when my car is better than his!"
Race Notes MonteCarlo 400
Points Points Points
The Bud team and Dale Jr. remained in seventh place in the point standings but pulled ever-closer to the top-three points position. They now sit less than 100 points behind Tony Stewart (4th),Sterling Marlin (5th) and Bobby Labonte (6th).
Points Position: 7th
Money Won: $106,053
Laps Led: --
Best Pit Stop: Lap 345 / 4 tires and Fuel / 15.74seconds
More Music Video News
Less than a week after Dale Jr. was the only athlete to appear on-stage at the MTV Music Video Awards in New York City, he will travel to Vancouver to appear in a music video with the Matthew Good Band, one of Canada's top bands. The video will debut in Canada before being seen in the United States sometime in early 2002. Dale Jr. was invited to co-star in the video by Good, one of Junior's favorite musician/songwriters.