Rough Martinsville race for Earnhardt Jr.

Tony Stewart won his second consecutive Winston Cup race Sunday in the NAPA 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Stewart, who has now won a league-leading five races this season, led Dale Earnhardt across the finish line while Jeff Burton...

Tony Stewart won his second consecutive Winston Cup race Sunday in the NAPA 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Stewart, who has now won a league-leading five races this season, led Dale Earnhardt across the finish line while Jeff Burton finished third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Budweiser racing team finished 36th, after an afternoon punctuated by a number of spins, crashes and incidents. Dale Jr. was uninjured, but the Budweiser Chevrolet suffered terminal damage in a crash on lap 406. While this season has been brightened by some brilliant performances from Dale Jr. and the Budweiser team, they have also seen more than their fair share of rough afternoons at the race track. However, none have been more accident-strewn than this one. The carnage began on lap 52 when a blown right front tire sent Earnhardt Jr. hard into the wall. The damaged Bud car returned, only to suffer more severe damage in a lap 187 crash with another car on the front stretch. Driving a car that looked more like an advertisement for red duct tape than the Bud Chevy, Dale Jr. was able to soldier onward, many laps behind. A solo spin on lap 379 did not hamper his progress, but a hard clash with another car some 100 laps later ended his day against the cement wall.

Earnhardt, Jr.: About the first crash early in the race: "Actually, this track is fun. It's fun to get out there and beat and bang. We've had bad luck here, but you create your own luck. We had a bad handling car at the start of the race, and we just abused the right front tire. The car was pushing so bad that it just abused the right front and it finally blew."

About the second incident on the front stretch when the caution flag flew: "I saw the leaders slowing up and we were just trying to get a lap back. I saw Sterling (Marlin, the race leader) slowed down in the middle of the track and I tried to stop from hitting him and hit another lapped car. Then, somebody else hit me from behind and about tore the left side of the car off."

About the final incident that knocked him out of the race: "It was a helluva hit, but I'm fine - a little banged up. I'll be really sore tomorrow. My left front tire was exposed (no left front fender) because of the earlier crashes. It was just kinda hanging out there, so when I touched wheels with someone it just hooked the tire and launched me in the air. Ya can't steer very well when you're in the air.

Dale Jr. dropped to 16th in the Winston Cup point standings, and did not gain any points on Matt Kenseth in the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year standings.

The good news: the next race is at Charlotte, where the Bud team won the Winston and led 175 laps to dominate the Coca-Cola 600. The bad news? The chief rookie rival, Kenseth, won the 600-miler that evening, so gaining a large chunk of rookie points may be tough to do.

www.Budweiser.com

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart