Michigan: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Biffle Wins at Michigan, Dale Jr. 17th No. 8 Budweiser Team Climb from One Lap Down Greg Biffle tasted victory for a league-leading fifth time Sunday, winning the Batman 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Biffle and his team chose to not...

Biffle Wins at Michigan, Dale Jr. 17th
No. 8 Budweiser Team Climb from One Lap Down

Greg Biffle tasted victory for a league-leading fifth time Sunday, winning the Batman 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Biffle and his team chose to not make a pit stop during a caution flag on lap 170 (of 200), then stayed out front for the final laps, finishing ahead of Tony Stewart and Mark Martin. The No. 8 Budweiser team and driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. started near the back of the pack, but made a deliberate climb through the field, then recovered from falling a lap down late in the race and finished 17th. The finish drops the team one position in the Nextel Cup point standings, 503 points behind point leader Jimmie Johnson, and 129 points behind the 10th place position.J

Key Moments:

Starting 41st, Dale Jr. methodically worked his way forward, climbing into the top-30 in 25 laps, then into the top-20 after 40 laps. The red Bud car spent the remaining 160 laps running in heavy traffic, moving as high as 15th place and as low as 24th. Dale Jr. remained on the lead lap until lap 140, then fought to regain the lead lap during a yellow flag on lap 168.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

"It's like (crew chief) Steve Hmiel said after the race, we'll never be happy with a 17th-place finish, but we did learn a lot today. Everybody earned their pay today. We had a car that was really fast during several segments of the race -- and we were able to run with the leaders when we restarted as the first lapped car. We started the day so far back, we were never able to gain the track position we needed. We were always fighting hard in heavy traffic. I told the guys on my team, even when things suck, it's fun driving with these guys. If we keep bringin' stuff like this to the track, we'll get it sooner or later."

"I think we learned some things about the chassis. We were absolutely as fast as anybody in the corners but they'd go past us on the straights, I wouldn't be surprised if we found something in the intake. It just wasn't pullin'... I was straight-out getting' kicked on the straights. I had a huge run on the 9 car (Kasey Kahne) coming down the straight, and he was able to stay ahead of me when the yellow flag came out. We would have been the lucky dog earlier and that would have helped us pass a lot more guys. But, the crew gave me a great pit stop there, and we were able to be the first car to restart one lap down, then we ran away from 'em until the next yellow flag came out. That last 30 laps was hard racin,' side-by-side and trying to close one inch at a time..."

"I did hear my buddies at the Corvette team finished one-two in their class at LeMans... that's pretty cool."

Best Radio Chatter:

Dale Jr. missed receiving a lap back when the yellow flag flew on lap 155, but the team's quickest pit stop of the afternoon put the Bud car in place to be the first car one lap down when the yellow flew again on lap 168.

Dale Jr.: (cheering the yellow flag and the chance to get back on the lead lap for the final laps) "Whhhhhoooo yeah!... I didn't want to hold up that 16 car (Biffle) any more than I needed to. I pushed it pretty hard. I don't wanna change anything (on this pit stop). I don't want the car to be tight"

Dale Jr. then had a front-row seat as Biffle chose to stay on the track while the other leaders came to pit lane. He gave a spirited play-by-play to the team...

Dale Jr: "Ahhhhh! Tomfoolery! The 16 stayed out! Shennanigans! He can't pass the 20 (Tony Stewart) if he pits."

Dale Jr. then received the free pass to regain the lead lap and sped around the track to catch the field.

Dale Jr: "Heh.. that's about the coolest thing that can happen. Other than a win or a great pass, that's just cool."

Steve Hmiel: "You guys did it with that pit stop. That was a great stop. We're comin' together..."

The free pass almost went sour as the Bud car came down for a pit stop on a crowded pit lane and was almost involved in a multi-car collision.

Hmiel: "Watch the 41 (Casey Mears) coming out... Watch the 41!"

Dale Jr. (after narrowly avoiding several cars, including the 41) "I almost stopped there, but I didn't wanna get hit from behind!"

Hmiel: "That's OK. You know what you're doing. You've got a good drivin' record on that..."

-dei/budweiser-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Casey Mears , Kasey Kahne , Mark Martin