Youth Movement Serves Well at Dale Earnhardt Inc. Young Drivers lead DEI in strong effort at Martinsville MOORESVILLE, N.C. (April 1, 2008) -- In what could serve as a glimpse of the future, youth was served for Dale Earnhardt Inc....
Youth Movement Serves Well at Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Young Drivers lead DEI in strong effort at Martinsville
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (April 1, 2008) -- In what could serve as a glimpse of the future, youth was served for Dale Earnhardt Inc. last weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Rookies Aric Almirola and Regan Smith each posted career highs, and second-year Sprint Cup driver Paul Menard brought home a season-high 16th-place finish as well.
Almirola qualified third on Friday, a career-best for the rookie co-driver of the No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet, while Smith finished a career-high 14th in the race to round out the solid outing for Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s impressive young class of drivers. The effort did not go unnoticed by one of the company's biggest supporters, who was watching the race from his home in Daytona Beach.
"Those guys were really getting it done out there," said Dale Earnhardt Inc. veteran driver Mark Martin, who has amassed more than 700 Sprint Cup starts and shares the No. 8 ride with Almirola. "Paul (Menard) drove a really smart race and just turned in a strong performance. If you look at it, that team has run really well the last two or three races and they seem to be getting better each time out. They (the No. 15 team) had the fastest car on the track for a long time at Bristol before getting involved in someone else's wreck, and I think we're seeing that team and driver start to come on.
"You can't say enough about Regan Smith and the way that team performed. You can't even describe the pressure those guys were under and it says so much about Regan and everyone on that team to see them come out and run that way in that type of situation. Aric proved what he could do last week at Bristol and they came back and qualified the car on the second row, that's pretty strong.
"It's really just awesome to be able to watch as all of these young guys continue to learn and grow and show the promise that we know they have."
In one of the biggest turnarounds of the season, Menard and his No. 15 Menards' Team continued their strong performance in 2008. A week after Menard was able to drive through the field at Bristol before getting caught up in an early accident, the sophomore driver patiently bided his time, working his way through the field and bringing home another solid finish for the Doug Randolph-led No. 15 team.
Crew Chief Doug Richert and the No. 01 Dale Earnhardt Team entered the weekend at Martinsville with their backs firmly planted against the wall, and responded in grand fashion. Smith, Richert and the team reached down deep, not only qualifying for the race on Friday, but posting their best run of the season on Sunday. The strong performance placed Smith back in the top 35 in Sprint Cup Owner points, guaranteeing the rookie-of-the-year contender a starting position this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
Almirola backed up his strong eighth-place finish at Bristol a week earlier by qualifying third for Sunday's race at Martinsville. In just his eighth career Cup start, the rookie driver had a solid outing at Martinsville before a punctured radiator late in the race ended his day early and sent the No. 8 Army Chevy to the garage with a 42nd-place finish.
Still it was a solid day for Dale Earnhardt Inc., which placed three of its four cars in the top 21 of the race. After six races, DEI has all four of its Cup entries inside the top 35 in owner points, with Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 1 team leading the way at 13th.