Michigan: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Ryan Newman Wins at Michigan Topsy-Turvy Day for No. 8 Budweiser Team Ryan Newman won Sunday's DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway for his first NEXTEL Cup victory of the season. Rookie Kasey Kahne finished second for the fourth time this...

Ryan Newman Wins at Michigan
Topsy-Turvy Day for No. 8 Budweiser Team

Ryan Newman won Sunday's DHL 400 at Michigan International Speedway for his first NEXTEL Cup victory of the season. Rookie Kasey Kahne finished second for the fourth time this year while Dale Jarrett finished third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team struggled for much of the day, but came on strong late until contact with Kevin Harvick flattened a right rear tire on the Bud car with seven laps remaining. The shredded tire wrapped around the rear axle, damaging a brake line. Despite the late-race drama, Dale Jr. managed a 21st-place finish. It is only the third finish worse than 11th in the first 15 races of 2004, but dropped Dale Jr. from the lead in points. He now trails Jimmie Johnson by seven points. Matt Kenseth is third in points, 180 points behind Dale Jr.

Key Moments: Starting 11th, the day started with a yellow flag on lap one, and began what would be a frustrating and long day for Dale Jr. With a car that refused to turn efficiently through the middle of the long turns at the Michigan two-mile oval, the Bud team tried a variety of changes and adjustments during eight pit stops. Running as low as 27th position on lap 115, the team began a frantic comeback into the top-20, then climbed further in the standings with a two-tire stop on lap 160. Restarting in 17th position, Dale Jr. sliced into 12th in two laps, then into the top-10 when they made a second consecutive two-tire pit stop on lap 175. The move looked like a brilliant one as Dale Jr. climbed to fifth place on lap 179, but the car again began to fade until the contact and flat tire on lap 193 took them out of contention for a fifth consecutive top-10 finish.

Dale Jr. Quotes: "Where did we finish? 21st? Well, we were probably worse than that most of the day... we were terrible. The car wouldn't turn and we tried everything to make it better. We put (spring) rubbers in, we took 'em out, we moved 'em from the back to the front, we took two tires... we tried it all and never really hit on anything. I had a few laps near the end that were pretty good -- we worked our way toward the front for awhile, but the car wouldn't turn, it wouldn't go."

Best Radio Chatter:
Struggling with an ill-handling car, there was little chatter from Dale Jr. during much of the race. As the race progressed, Dale Jr. suddenly began passing a series of cars to climb into the top-five with 20 laps remaining.

Stevie Reeves (spotter): "You're getting offa (turn) two good now..."

Dale Jr: (with urgency): "Don't jinx it!"

Within the final 10 laps, Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart crashed in front of Dale Jr, who was hit from behind by Kevin Harvick, flattening the right rear tire.

Dale Jr: "I just about crashed this (car)! I hit the wall there -- just barely.... Something's wrong -- I have a flat tire."

Reeves: "I can have the 29 car (Harvick) take a look and see if it's flat..."

Dale Jr: "It's flat! It's coming apart!... Do you want me to come in this time?"

Tony Eury Jr. (car chief): "If you come in now, you'll have to go to the end of the longest line, but if you can go slow and stay out without tearing the fender off, try that."

Dale Jr, (after passing the pit lane for another lap): "I don't know when it went flat. I went into the corner and got into all that oil and I couldn't keep it out of the wall..."

After the race had ended under a yellow flag:

Dale Jr.: "I have no brakes!"

Tony Jr: "You'll have to crank the (brake) bias all the way to the front to have any brakes."

Dale Jr.: "Ohhhhhh... I'm already waaaay ahead of ya buddy. I have no (brake) pedal! It was a (bad) day..."

Tony Jr: "Yeah, we can't be lucky every week. We've been trying to have a bad day for three weeks now."

Today's Stats
Started: 11th
Finished: 21st
Points: 2nd (dropped one position, -7 points to leader )
Best Pit Stop: Pit stop number one of eight / four tires and fuel / 13.15 seconds

-budweiser/dei-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Stevie Reeves , Tony Eury Jr.