Rockingham: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Budweiser Race Report: Rough Day for Bud Team Matt Kenseth Gets Second Career Winston Cup Win at the Rock No. 8 Budweiser Team Struggles to 26th Place Tally Matt Kenseth made a brilliant move late in the race, avoiding oil on the circuit to...

Budweiser Race Report: Rough Day for Bud Team

Matt Kenseth Gets Second Career Winston Cup Win at the Rock
No. 8 Budweiser Team Struggles to 26th Place Tally

Matt Kenseth made a brilliant move late in the race, avoiding oil on the circuit to take the lead with eight laps left, grabbing his second Winston Cup career victory Sunday at the Subway 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham. Multiple caution flags marked the 400-mile event but there were also multiple changes up-front as the lead changed hands 17 times in 393 laps. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team struggled for much of the day, finishing 26th, two laps behind the leaders due to handling problems and a cut left front tire that caused the team to make an unscheduled pit stop. To try and improve the race car, the Bud crew made 12 pit stops during the afternoon. Sterling Marlin finished second while Bobby Labonte finished third.

The Key Moment: Dale Jr. started 29th, and was never able to climb much higher than that position throughout the race. The ill-handling Bud car suffered from a pushing condition where the front tires would not grip the track on entry to the corners, pushing the No. 8 car high up the banking in every turn. After losing a lap on the 84th circuit, the team used pit strategy to regain a spot on the lead lap until lap 240, when a cut left front tire forced them to make an unscheduled pit stop, falling three laps behind. Aggressive driving allowed Dale Jr. to regain one of the laps, but he was not able to advance further from there. The finish of 26th, combined with a finish last week of 29th, puts the team in 31st position in Winston Cup points, their lowest position ever since joining the circuit full-time in 2000.

Dale Jr's Quotes: "I can only say it so many ways: it pushed it plowed it was tight it chattered the front tires until the end of the race. We were pretty decent the final 40 laps or so, but until then, it seemed like no matter what changes we made, the car just would not stay down in the corners. Sometimes it was alright once I got to the top of the track in the middle of the corners, but we just couldn't pass anybody or stay quick for more than a few laps at a time. I don't really have much else to say."

Best Radio Conversations
Dale Jr. (his first radio transmission on lap five, and a sign of what was to come) "Pushing! Pushing real bad!"

Dale Jr. (after coming to a full stop on the backstretch to avoid a multi-car accident) "Awwww man, the 33 car (Mike Wallace) just hit us - it may have bent something. I know the left front tire is rubbing."
Tony Eury Jr. (car chief) "Yeah, the left front fender is rubbing the tire. Bring it in here next time by."
Dale Jr. "It's not really bad, he just brushed by me in a hurry to get through the wreck. I wasn't even moving and he climbed up over my left front."

The team made two pit stops to replace the tires, mend the bent sheet metal and check the alignment. All of the key components of the car were still intact.
Tony Jr.: "It's fine. It's 1/8th inch out of alignment."
Dale Jr.:. "I'm glad! I'm happy that it isn't torn up. I don't wanna drive 'round this place with a bent-up and beat-up race car. This track is hard enough as it is with out just being out here hanging on."

RACE NOTES

Bud Crew Wins Award for Tenacity
Despite a variety of ills and adversity last week during the Daytona 500 (two blown tires, one major crash), crew chief Tony Eury and the Budweiser crew proved that teamwork counts as they were able to tape, weld and hammer the car into a condition that allowed them to finish 29th. In recognition of their tireless effort, they were presented with the "IRWIN Rough to Finish Award," a new award presented each week in conjunction with Benny Parson's radio show on the Performance Racing Network (PRN).

"This award is one of the few positive things to come out of Daytona for our team," said Eury. "The fact that we fought through all the bad luck and put the car back on the track says a lot about the team. Despite everything that went wrong, it was a fun weekend and it's going to be a great year for us."

The Best of Sellers
Dale Earnhardt Jr's book, "Driver #8" (Warner Books), will climb to the number five position on the New York Times Best Seller list next Sunday, March 3.

Today's Stats
Started: 29th
Finished: 26th
Money Won: $77,587
Points Position: 31 (85 points)
Laps Led: ---
Best Pit Stop: Lap 257 / 4 tires and Fuel / 13.51 seconds / (9th stop of the day)

-budweiser/DEI-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Bobby Labonte , Sterling Marlin , Mike Wallace , Tony Eury Jr.