Michigan: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Kahne Wins Rain-Shortened Michigan Race Third-Place for Bud Team is Best-Ever Michigan Finish Mother nature dominated the day at Michigan International Speedway, as Kasey Kahne won the rain-delayed and then rain-shortened 3M Performance 400. It...

Kahne Wins Rain-Shortened Michigan Race
Third-Place for Bud Team is Best-Ever Michigan Finish

Mother nature dominated the day at Michigan International Speedway, as Kasey Kahne won the rain-delayed and then rain-shortened 3M Performance 400. It is Kahne's fourth win of the season, and his third after winning the Bud Pole Award. Carl Edwards was second, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team - in a special retro paint scheme honoring Dale Jr's father and grandfather - ran near the front all day and finished third. The third-place finish moves Dale Jr. two positions higher in the Nextel Cup point standings to fourth after 14 races. It is the first top-five finish (and third top-10) in 14 career starts for Dale Jr. at the two-mile Michigan oval. The cream-colored Bud car led three laps, the most Dale Jr. has led at Michigan since August 2002.

Key Moments: Dale Jr., starting 6th (his best starting position of the season), wasted little time after a nearly one-hour rain delay, jumping to fourth place on lap one, and then remained among the top-five for the remainder of the day (except for pit stops). Dale Jr. led three laps in a thrilling door-to-door battle with Jeff Gordon at lap 61. The race was slowed repeatedly by rain and a series of accidents, making pit strategy a roll of the dice as a major rain storm moved closer and closer to the track. The rain stopped the race for good on lap 129 of a scheduled 200 laps, leaving Dale Jr. with a soggy third-place finish.J Dale Jr. Quotes: "We had a good car all weekend, from the first practice to the race. The weather was different today obviously, so we weren't as good when the race started, but we made some changes and hauled ass. It was so much fun racing for the lead with Jeff (Gordon) - you can run side-by-side here and having a good car really made it fun.

"This is a moral victory for me and (crew chief) Tony (Eury) Jr. It's a like a personal victory for us because we've never had a car that good here, and it makes us really excited about coming back here again and about going to tracks like Chicago where we will be just as good. We've found some things and I think we've really turned the corner. Today is a sign of things to come.

"We were too tight on the last run so I couldn't catch the 9 (Kahne), but I told 'em I needed to be tighter and they made those changes. Who knows if we could have caught him if we would have been able to finish the race, but the car was good all weekend."

Best Radio Chatter:
The weather-shortened race featured radio chatter that primarily focused upon positioning the Bud car near the front in case of rain following the halfway point of the race.

Tony Eury Jr. (crew chief)(during a yellow flag for light rain on lap 56- urging on his pit crew): "Keep it up guys. You know you can do this, you've done it all year."

After a strong stop that sent the Bud car back on track in second place...

Tony Jr: "Way to step it up guys!"

Steve Hmiel (spotter): "Good job guys!"

Dale Jr: "Good work on that one."

Tony Jr: "Just so you know Dale Jr, the big storm is about an hour and a half out, and we've run an hour and a half. We're looking at about 55 laps here, so you've got a heads-up on what that is. When that weather gets here, we'll probably be down for quite awhile."

Dale Jr: "What's the laps on this race?"

Tony Jr: "200... so we've got to get to lap 100 to make it an official race. Jut trying to give you a heads-up on what's around the corner or what might happen. I'll letcha know later on, if the weather changes drastically or anything."

Dale Jr: "Alrighty."

Hmiel: "You're coming to 43 laps to halfway, Junior... 43."

Dale Jr.: "This must be 400 miles. Man, they ALL should be this long. This is just right."

Hmiel: "That's true for sure."

Finally, the hard rains came and stopped the race on lap 129. Tony Jr: "For what's coming, I think they're gonna have a hard time getting this one going. I think they oughta call it. I'm tickled to death with how we were today - we're right up there."

Dale Jr: "Yeah, but that last run was gonna be hard on your 'tickled to death' cuz we were really tight. If that was a long run, it woulda been bad."

-dei

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Kasey Kahne , Carl Edwards , Tony Eury Jr.