Kansas: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Newman wins again, Dale Jr. 18th at Kansas Speedway No. 8 Budweiser Team leads nine laps early, then struggles Ryan Newman won his league-leading eighth race of the season this afternoon at Kansas Speedway, winning the Banquet 400. Bill Elliott...

Newman wins again, Dale Jr. 18th at Kansas Speedway No. 8 Budweiser Team leads nine laps early, then struggles

Ryan Newman won his league-leading eighth race of the season this afternoon at Kansas Speedway, winning the Banquet 400. Bill Elliott was second, followed by his teammate, Jeremy Mayfield. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team led twice for nine laps early in the race, then fought an ill-handling car the rest of the afternoon to finish 18th. It marks the 18th race the team has led this season for 857 laps. After 30 of 36 races, Dale Jr. and the Bud team remains third in Winston Cup points.

The Key Moments:

Dale Jr. actually started from the first position after Bud Pole winner Jimmie Johnson was forced to the back of the lineup after a crash during Saturday's first practice session. The No. 8 Bud car took the lead on lap two, then traded the front spot with Rusty Wallace, leading nine laps until the handling of the car began to suffer. It was a slow slide backwards through the field, as Dale Jr. eventually fell one lap behind the leaders on lap 149 (of 267). Continual adjustments to the chassis made little difference, as Dale Jr. dropped as low as 32nd position with less than 100 laps to go. When the yellow flag flew on lap 182, Dale Jr. and the Bud team were able to take advantage of NASCAR's new rule that allows the first car one lap down to reagin a lap under a yellow flag.

Even gaining the lap back was not without drama, as Dale Jr. was hit by the car of Johnny Benson under the caution period, forcing an additional pit stop to repair a bent left rear wheel and fender damage. The final 75 laps saw Dale Jr. claw, climb, slip and fall up and down the standings, eventually ending the day in the 18th position.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

"I did what I could. The car would start each run (with fresh tires) and would be loose getting into the corners. But, no matter what we changed on the car, it would only take a few laps before the car would just get real real real tight. I couldn't turn through the middle of the corners, and that hurt us all afternoon. We raced hard all day, and especially pushed to be the first car one lap down. When the yellow came out, we were glad to get our lap back, but we got hit by another car and had to make an extra stop. We hoped having four new tires would help, but we couldn't make up enough spots for it to make a big difference."

"I'm not going to be happy just because (point leader Matt Kenseth) had a rough day (finishing 36th) and we gained a few points. It's not just about us versus one other driver. We're not going to celebrate finishing 18th, no matter what Matt does, just like we've enjoyed a lot of top-five finishes this year where he finished ahead of us. With the races left, we are still on track with the best season we've had, and we're worried about getting ourselves ready to win at Charlotte (the next race) and then Martinsville..."

Best Radio Conversations After leading for nine of the first 12 laps, the Bud car struggled for the rest of the 267-lap race.

Dale Jr.: "It started off loose, and I was hangin' right with 'em. Then it was real real real tight. I was hangin' in there, but the guys that are beatin' me are loose, so I gotta be loose too, I suppose. It's really difficult to drive, the nose is just plowing along until someone gets up beside the right rear-quarter panel and then it wants to spin out right away. It's like a switch..."

The team's usual front-tire changer Phil Drye was unable to attend the race, which meant car chief Tony Eury Jr. was the team's front tire changer for the first time this season. Tony Jr. was the team's front tire changer until this season... Craig Lund was over the wall as the team's catch-can man, filling in for Bill Snyder, who remained in the Charlotte area with his wife, who is expecting a baby.

Tony Jr. (before the pit stop on lap 160): "Alright boys, this one is representing the Big What-a-Burger Posse..." (mocking Dale Jr's band of buddies known as the "Dirty Mo Posse")

Dale Jr.: "I don't wanna hear any talk about food... I'm starving out here!"

Ty Norris (spotter, after Dale Jr. was awarded a lap back): "There are gonna be so many people in red standing up and cheering when you come back around, they're gonna think this is a (Kansas City) Chiefs game..."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Bill Elliott , Jeremy Mayfield , Rusty Wallace , Ryan Newman , Johnny Benson , Jimmie Johnson , Tony Eury Jr.