Phoenix II: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Kyle Busch Wins at Phoenix. Dale Jr. 40th Crash Ends Day for No. 8 Budweiser Team Kyle Busch won for the second time during his rookie season, taking the checkered flag at the Checker 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Greg Biffle was second...

Kyle Busch Wins at Phoenix. Dale Jr. 40th
Crash Ends Day for No. 8 Budweiser Team

Kyle Busch won for the second time during his rookie season, taking the checkered flag at the Checker 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Greg Biffle was second while Jeff Gordon was third. With one race remaining in the 2005 season, points leader Tony Stewart finished fourth. Stewart has a 52 point lead over Jimmie Johnson heading to Homestead for the final race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team had a very fast race car, climbing one-by-one into the top-10, but optimism turned sour on lap 113, when a right front tire went flat, sending Dale Jr. hard into the wall. Dale Jr. finished 40th. He is now 20th in Nextel Cup points.

Key Moments:

Dale Jr. and the Bud team began their attempt to win a third consecutive Checker 500k from the 19th starting position. Moving up methodically, Dale Jr. passed his way into the top-10 on lap 69, and then began recording the fastest laps of any car on the track until a yellow flag on lap 82. The Bud team gained a spot on the ensuing pit stop, restarting in eighth on lap 88. Climbing to seventh, the day would end soon after as a flat right front tire sent Dale Jr. hard into the wall on lap 113. It ends a string of four consecutive top-five finishes at the one-mile Phoenix oval for the Bud team.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

"I don't know what happened. The tire didn't blow out all at once -- it was like the air going out of a balloon. It took a few seconds. I felt it going down but I couldn't do anything about it: I was sliding right into the wall. Tony Jr. (Eury, crew chief) says it looks like the tire came apart, but we don't know what caused it. The wear looked fine -- and we had just changed tires. But, whatever the team did on that last pit stop (lap 85), it was awesome. We were fast early on, but great after that stop. We had a great car as usual here (at Phoenix), but it's been like a broken record these last few months. We've been fast, but no results to show it. We would have been there at the end. We had a car that could win."

Best Radio Chatter:

The chatter was sparse with such an early exit. After the second pit stop on lap 85...

Dale Jr: "The brakes started to go away there. The (brake) pedal didn't go away, but the brakes started going away at the end of the run."

Tony Eury Jr. (crew chief): "We'll work on that."

Dale Jr: "It's the same thing we've had here for a few years, so we need to figure it out."

Tony Jr: "It must not have been too bad, because you were easily the fastest car there on the long run. I just didn't want to tell ya at the time. When you were catching the 24 car (Jeff Gordon), you were running 29.40s (seconds per lap time,) That was four-tenths better than anybody right there. You've got a great car today.

The chat was even less verbose after the crash.

Jimmy Kitchens (spotter): "Junior -- you OK?"

-dei-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson , Jimmy Kitchens , Tony Eury Jr. , Kyle Busch