Homestead: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Stewart Wins Championship, Biffle Victorious In Race at Homestead Bud Team finishes 19th in race and final point standings Tony Stewart won the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup championship Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, using a 15th-place ...

Stewart Wins Championship, Biffle Victorious In Race at Homestead

Bud Team finishes 19th in race and final point standings

Tony Stewart won the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup championship Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway, using a 15th-place finish in the Ford 400 to beat Roush chasers Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. It is Stewart's second career series title. Edwards was by far the dominant driver on Sunday, leading a race-high 94 laps, but a four-tire stop 15 laps from the end when everybody else took two left him out of the final mix. He finished fourth, while Greg Biffle won a door-to-door battle with teammate Mark Martin on the final lap, putting a nose in front and winning by .017 seconds. Jimmie Johnson, who entered the season-finale second in points, crashed on lap 126 and fell four spots in the final standings. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team started 40th and finished 19th. Junior finishes the season 19th in the point standings with one win, seven top-fives and 13 top-10s.

Key Moments: H

aving struggled all weekend, the Budweiser team found a combination that worked Sunday night, as Junior slowly and methodically climbed the leaderboard from the 40th starting position. It wasn't without obstacles. A setting sun in the opening stages, a flat tire on lap 24, and a pit-road penalty for an escaped tire on lap 43 slowed the progress, the latter knocking the Bud Chevy to the rear of the field for a lap-48 restart. But Junior caught lucky breaks when he needed them and managed to avoid six wrecks along the way. The Bud car climbed as high as 13th with less than 32 laps to go, but never got higher as a tight condition surfaced with the cooling track. Junior took the final restart in 19th position, slipped to 20th on lap 260, but regained the spot with a pass of Joe Nemechek in the final circuits.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

"First of all, I want to congratulate Tony Stewart, Joe Gibbs, and all them boys for winning the championship. Tony's my buddy, and if I couldn't be in the Chase, I wanted him to win it. He's a great race car driver and an even better friend. Always fun racing with them boys.

"Our car was real good at one point, but it was really tight at the end and it just wouldn't turn in the corners the way it did midway through the race. I'm still happy though. We were pretty bad all weekend. Practice bad. Qualified bad. But we had this ol' Budweiser Chevrolet moving in the race, and it was a lot of fun. We couldn't take no breaks, that's for sure. It was that kind of race, something going on the whole time. I'm wore out, but I can't believe the season is over. This one went by fast. I wish we were racing somewhere next week. Maybe this gives me a good reason to get the karts out next Sunday and have a helluva big race on the dirt track at my house. That's probably what I'll do."

Best Radio Chatter:

The Bud team discovered a flat tire on lap 21 but was fortunate enough to catch a caution when Kyle Busch spun and wrecked in turn four. It allowed the Brew Crew to change the tire under caution without losing much track position.

Tony Eury Jr. (crew chief): "You've got a left-rear flat Junior."

Dale Jr.: "You sure?"

Tony Jr.: "Yeah, you can go by me one more time, but I'm almost positive when I saw it. You can run another lap if you want."

Moments later...

Tony Jr.: "Spin off of four!"

Jimmy Kitchens (spotter): "Back 'er down! Back 'er down. (A car is) stuck up against the outside wall."

Dale Jr.: "I don't think it's flat. I'm just really loose."

Tony Jr.: "Alright, I swear it looks like it had a pretty heavy wrinkle."

Dale Jr.: "Well it might be, but it didn't feel like it was flat. It felt like it did at the beginning of the race. Just loose, man. It's like the only springs in the car are the left-front and the right-rear."

Tony Jr.: "Ok, 10-4. Let's just pit, put four tires on."

Dale Jr.: "Yeah, let's work on it a little bit. Maybe a round of bite."

Tony Jr.: "I swear you had a helluva wrinkle on the left side when you came by. It caught my eye the first time. The second time I was almost positive."

After the stop...

Tony Jr.: "You did have a left-rear flat, Junior. It's got only nine pounds in it. You could see where it was riding on the sidewall."

Dale Jr.: "Good eye man. I won't doubt you no more."

NASCAR's decision to blow the track during the fourth caution allowed for plenty of time to catch up on football scores.

Dale Jr.: "The Redskins win?"

Tony Jr. (a diehard Cowboys fan): "I don't know. I don't keep up with them too much."

Dale Jr. (knowing the team doesn't like to give him bad news when he's in the race car): "They lost, didn't they. I know your game. They were behind in the fourth quarter, so I know they probably lost."

Tony Jr.: "They lost 16-13."

Dale Jr.: "Ahhhhh, they lost by one point last week! What the hell?"

Tony Jr.: "What happened to your boy Spurrier last night? We watched a little bit of it at the bar last night."

Dale Jr.: "They were horrible. They couldn't score a touchdown. They got beat like 9-6, or something like that."

Tony Jr.: "Carolina lost too."

Dale Jr.: "No, I thought they beat Duke by three points."

Tony Jr.: "No, the Carolina Panthers. The got beat pretty bad."

Dale Jr.: "Yeah, Chicago is putting it on all their asses... The North Carolina Tar Heels beat Duke by three points yesterday. That's pretty much like a loss to beat Duke by only three points."

Under the same caution, reality hit the Bud driver.

Dale Jr.: "This don't feel like the last race. That kind of sucks. I'm having a good time. I had a good time all year. I just wish we were racing some more. They ought to have races for no points at the end of each season. You know, like the Snowball Derby or something."

Lap 170, racing hard to get into the top-15:

Dale Jr.: "Ahhhaha... I felt the wind coming off the wall that time!


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Tony Stewart , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Jimmy Kitchens , Carl Edwards , Tony Eury Jr. , Kyle Busch