Fort Worth: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Kenseth wins again, manic Monday for Earnhardt Jr. No. 8 Budweiser Team runs strong until hard crash. Matt Kenseth won today's Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, held one day later than scheduled due to Sunday's continuous rainfall. It ...

Kenseth wins again, manic Monday for Earnhardt Jr.
No. 8 Budweiser Team runs strong until hard crash.

Matt Kenseth won today's Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, held one day later than scheduled due to Sunday's continuous rainfall. It is Kenseth's second win of the young season, and strengthens his second-place position in the Winston Cup point standings. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team ran among the race leaders for the first 184 laps of the race until contact with the race car of Shawna Robinson sent the red Bud car hard into the turn one wall. Dale Jr. was uninjured in the crash, and was able to return to the race to make several laps at speed before a damaged radiator put the team out of the race for good. With only 192 (of the 334 total) laps completed, the team was credited with a 42nd place finish. The difficulties cost them five positions in the point standings, dropping to 11th after seven of 36 races and ending a string of three consecutive top-four finishes.

The Key Moment: Dale Jr., starting ninth, took very little time moving into the top three, and stayed there for much of the first 100 laps. Utilizing superb fuel mileage, the team was able to stay on the track while the other leading cars took pit stops, inheriting the lead on lap 103 before making their second stop of the afternoon. With the one lap led, the team gained five bonus points and continued their run of success at the Texas track, leading in each Winston Cup race they have entered here, including their first career victory in 2000 and an eighth place finish in 2001.

During an extended yellow flag period, the team chose to make an extra pit stop on lap 179 for adjustments to the car and take an extra splash of fuel to prepare for an aggressive fight to the finish. When the race re-started on lap 182, Dale Jr. was in 16th place, and was making a move around the lapped car of Shawna Robinson when the two cars touched, sending Dale Jr. hard into the outside wall.

Dale Jr's Quotes:

Referring to the delayed race and the crashed car: "We were here all this time for this?! We really wanted to have a great run today - and we were in pretty good position. This hurts us in the points - and that was the main focus of the team coming into this weekend. We had lost a few positions on the track when we made the extra stop, but we felt like we could get the car just right for the second half of the race. We were fast, but the car was really tight (front tires won't turn efficiently) and it made it really hard to pass cars."

"I'm OK I'll be sore, but OK. I hit my elbow on one of the roll bars, but it wasn't the hardest hit I've taken. At these speeds, you know you're gonna hit hard, but I hit the gas when I spun backwards and it may have helped soften it a little bit. I can't be too mad at her (Robinson) I was into the corner and she must have slid up the track a bit. She's a good race driver, but we need to get her in some better equipment so I'm not having to pass her every 15 laps or so."

Best Radio Conversations

In the "wishful thinking" category, Dale Jr. was talkative during the day's second yellow flag period that began on lap 49, as he made references to the lack of practice time due to poor weather, the team's historical difficulties at short tracks, and who he believed would be racing for the victory.

Dale Jr: "Hey guys, I wanna tell ya thanks for the car. With no practice, you did really good. The car's good I want to take some points out of here sooooo bad - I can't stand it. Especially because of Martinsville next week The 20 car (Tony Stewart) is really loose right now. But, I think the track will come to him. I think he may be the guy that we will be racing for the win. I know we'll be in there fighting too. The car's good and we just need to get it to turn better in the middle of the corner."

Even while handling a hulking 3,400-lb. race car at speeds nearing 190 mph, Dale Jr. remains observant of his surroundings beyond the race track.

Dale Jr: "There's some sorta big bar-be-que goin' on here in turn three. There's smoke all over the track! Some fan's got a big one goin' on"

Showing the same resolve that allowed the team to make repeated repairs at Daytona after a blown tire, the Budweiser crew took one hour and 15 minutes to repair the tattered and mangled race car after the crash. The crew installed a complete new transmission and rear-end onto the crashed car. The efforts were geared toward gaining as many positions and as many points as possible toward their goal of a Winston Cup championship.

Ty Norris (spotter): "Guys, there's only about 85 laps left in the race."
Tony Eury Jr. (car chief, answering abruptly and referring to their championship aspirations) " We're making a statement here. We're not going to give up."

Today's Stats
Started: 9th
Finished: 42nd
Points Position: 11th
Laps Led: One time / 1 lap
Best Pit Stop: Lap 165 / 4 tires and Fuel / 13.94 seconds / Third stop of the day

-dei/budweiser-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Shawna Robinson , Tony Eury Jr.