Hamilton Wins, Another Top 10 for No. 8 Budweiser Team Dale Jr. Finishes 8th in All-Green Flag Race Bobby Hamilton won Sunday's Talladega 500 on a day that saw 188-laps of green-flag action. With no yellow flags to slow the pace, the 500 miles...
Hamilton Wins, Another Top 10 for No. 8 Budweiser Team Dale Jr. Finishes 8th in All-Green Flag Race
Bobby Hamilton won Sunday's Talladega 500 on a day that saw 188-laps of green-flag action. With no yellow flags to slow the pace, the 500 miles were completed in slightly more than 2 hours and 43 minutes at an average speed of 184.003 mph. More than half of the drivers in the field (26 total) led at least one lap, while the lead changed hands 37 times. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team finished eighth, their third top-10 finish of the year and the third consecutive top-11 finish. Dale Jr. led the race twice for 33 laps. The strong finish pulls them from 19th in Winston Cup points to 12th.
The Key Moment: The high-banked Talladega track, combined with NASCAR rules to restrict speeds, creates wild races that feature a huge number of position changes. Dale Jr. leaped forward and fell back so often and so dramatically that it was as if he was within a deck of 43 playing cards being shuffled each lap. As the race neared a conclusion, Dale Jr. was shuffled back to 22nd position with 10 laps to go. Suddenly making his move, he gained eight positions on the following lap, and another six on the next to take eighth place. As the wild scramble for the finish ensued, Dale Jr. was able to hold onto his position, gaining his best ever Talladega finish.
Dale Jr': "That's a good finish. The team did great today and got another top 10. Twelfth in points!? Yeah! It was a fun race, but it was also nerve wracking and tiring with no cautions. I'm not the world's best at being patient and letting off the throttle, but everybody worked with each other all day and it turned out to be a good, clean race. I think there was some good driving from everybody today."
About the fight to the finish in the final laps: "I was frustrated because I was positioned where I couldn't really make a move. I wanted to stay in the top line because the high side is where it seems to come alive in the last two laps. There were no deals between teams or drivers- you were on your own out there."
About leading the race for 33 laps: "It was actually pretty easy leading like that. We had a single-file line of cars behind us and I figured that I should stay in the high line so that the inside line of cars wouldn't be able to make a strong move. My spotter would tell me 'the inside line has a run' but then they'd lose steam when they'd get near our car. Rusty (Wallace) was right behind us, but once he moved out to pass us, we dropped back like we had a parachute coming out of the back of the car."
Best Team Radio Chatter of the Day
Before the start of the race: Tony Eury Sr (crew chief): "Be careful leaving the pits today, Junior. Just take it easy leaving the box." Dale Jr: "Yeah, I'll try. All you pit guys, gimme a push if you can. I need lotsa pushers today.I don't know how much it helps, but it looks cool. Ya know, the teamwork deal looks real good!" Tony Eury Jr. (car chief): "Alright, everybody pushes and everybody puts on your wanna be up-front' attitudes! Let's go!" Dale Jr: "OK, we'll run 170 laps stayin' outta trouble and then for 18 laps, we'll drop a Mike McLaughlin on their asses" (McLaughlin won Saturday's Busch Grand National race by leading the final laps and holding off the rest of the field.)
Although the race did not have any crashes or yellow flags, there were still a number of close calls and near misses for Dale Jr. He commented several times on other drivers and their "questionable" moves or strategy:
Dale Jr: "What in the world is he doing? Is he outta control or what?! Tell (--insert driver's name here--) to stay right on my bumper in the tri-oval. I know it's not any fun just sittin' there, but he just needs to be patient."
Later, about the same driver: "I'm about ready to knock the (stuff) out of him. Let me know when he's behind me again and I'll just get the hell outta the way so he doesn't crash us. "
About another driver: "What the ----!? I swear to God I wanna punch him out!"
About all the other drivers: "Somebody needs to tell all these (boys) that they need to just chill out right now. It's a long way to go (Long silence) I guess I need to as well."