Richmond: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Kahne Finally Closes the Deal, Bud Team 14th at Richmond Dale Jr. comes from lap down to finish in top-15 After six runner-up finishes in his first 46 starts, Kasey Kahne finally scored his first career victory by winning the Chevy American ...

Kahne Finally Closes the Deal, Bud Team 14th at Richmond
Dale Jr. comes from lap down to finish in top-15

After six runner-up finishes in his first 46 starts, Kasey Kahne finally scored his first career victory by winning the Chevy American Revolution 400 Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. Kahne held off Tony Stewart on a restart with seven to go and raced to a 1.6-second advantage by race's end. Ryan Newman finished third and rookie Kyle Busch fourth. Last year's winner of this race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team, finished 14th after a roller coaster of an evening. Earnhardt fell a lap down with less than 100 laps to go but regained lead-lap status shortly after by virtue of the "free pass" rule. It marked the seventh straight top-15 for Dale Jr., although it dropped him two positions to 11th in the Nextel Cup point standings. He is now 11 points behind Mark Martin in 10th.

Key Moments:

Having shown some muscle early, racing from 27th to 17th in 10 laps, Dale Jr. was hit with a pit-road speeding penalty on lap 128 that knocked him to the rear of the field. It was the start of a roller-coaster of an evening for the Bud team, as Junior struggled to fight his way back into contention. He eventually regained all positions lost from the penalty, but that didn't prevent him from being lapped on lap 307. Not giving in, Junior raced his way into the lucky-dog position on lap 345 and eventually caught that lucky caution eight circuits later. Lead-lap status regained, Dale Jr. used more lightning-quick stops to advance to his eventual finishing position. Of the eight pit stops Saturday night, the Brew Crew accounted for 15 spots gained on pit road.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

"I'm exhausted. We had a decent car. When we started the race, I thought we were going to be awesome, because we passed cars pretty easily. But the car got tight during the middle part of the race, and I made a mistake on pit road and got caught speeding. Between the tightness and the poor track position, we were really struggling there for a while. I couldn't get the car to turn, and even when I did, we were behind so many cars that it was hard to gain any ground. We lost a lap. I made the lap up luckily and got the lucky dog. Pete and the team made the car drive better, and we were able to make a pretty decent finish. I think we might've had a 10th-place car, but I'll take the 14th and get out of here. Pit stops were great today. Was real proud of my team there."

Best Radio Chatter:

Gutsy driving by Dale Jr. -- as well as a freakish spin by leader Tony Stewart -- enabled the Bud team to stay on the lead lap on lap 233. The Bud team talked about it during the fifth caution:

Pete Rondeau (crew chief): "Junior, we're going the same direction as before. Obviously track position was killing us there. We'll keep working on it. You're doing good. Thanks for wheeling that thing man when the leader was behind you. Everything was fine. Tony just pinched himself off when coming off four here."

Dale Jr.: "Yeah, ten-four."

Steve Hmiel (spotter): We've got 165 laps to go, June."

Dale Jr.: "Wow, that was a long run."

Hmiel: "Yeah, I didn't want to talk to you because I saw you were driving the heck out of it."

Dale Jr.: "I can't really hear y'all too good. My earplugs ain't feeling up real good. (Pause) Well, I'm glad we got that lucky caution there."

Hmiel: "We needed that. He (Stewart) just got over-anxious there. Wasn't even close to you when he did it. Him and the 22 were racing."

After hot and heavy racing to stay on the lead lap, the sixth caution provided some time to regroup:

Dale Jr.: Just a little too much rebound. Just my opinion. It won't let it turn. It Just goes in there and it bounces around the race track."

Rondeau: "OK, let's keep digging. We'll get the best finish we possibly can."

Dale Jr.: "Yeah man, we can get it right. We can get the lucky dog and make up a couple more spots and we can get us something like a close top-10."

Rondeau: "Yeah man, we'll keep digging. I know you're driving your guts out here."

Dale Jr.: "Hell yeah, I'm digging like a front-end loader out here, hoss ... Do you think you made my loose-in better, because I about crashed 50 times out there."

Rondeau: "Yep, we tried to help you right there, yessir."

Dale Jr. (referring back to a moment in which he became short-tempered and loud due to radio communication problems): "I sure wish the television would put us on TV when we're having a civilized conversation. They always go for the bad one, and normally it's only one. But we don't need to worry about all that. Let's just get it going."

Rondeau: "Ten-four. No worries here. We're doing OK."

After getting the lucky dog on lap 353:

Dale Jr.: "WHOOOOOOHOOOOOO! Hell yeah!

Rondeau: "Alright man, nice job. Way to wheel it, bud."

Dale Jr. (still pumped): "Yeah! ... Yeah! ... Not bad off. Just a little bit tight in the center. Yeah!"

-dei/budweiser-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman , Kasey Kahne , Mark Martin