Dale Jr. Drives No. 8 Budweiser Car to Fourth Place Elliott Sadler Wins as Dale Jr. Continues Success at Texas Track Elliott Sadler crossed the finish line inches ahead of rookie Kasey Kahne, winning Sunday's Samsung/Radio Shack 500 by a nose at...
Dale Jr. Drives No. 8 Budweiser Car to Fourth Place
Elliott Sadler Wins as Dale Jr. Continues Success at Texas Track
Elliott Sadler crossed the finish line inches ahead of rookie Kasey Kahne, winning Sunday's Samsung/Radio Shack 500 by a nose at Texas Motor Speedway. It is Sadler's second career NEXTEL Cup victory, and Kahne's third second-place finish this year. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team finished fourth, grabbing a top-five finish for the fourth time in the first seven races of 2004. Dale Jr. remains third in the Nextel Cup point standings, 35 points behind new leader Kurt Busch and 16 points behind Matt Kenseth. The Budweiser team led the race twice for four laps, which continues a streak of leading every race they have entered at the 1.5-mile Texas oval. (This is the site of the first career Cup victory for Dale Jr. and the No. 8 team, and is their fourth top-10 finish in five starts here.)
The Key Moments: Fuel mileage and good timing played to the advantage of the No. 8 team all afternoon, as they ran among the top-10 for much of the day. The team took the lead for the first time on lap 83 by staying on the track while the other leaders made pit stops. The ability to make long runs paid the biggest dividends when the yellow flag flew on lap 267, leaving the No. 8 team among only a handful of cars remaining on the lead lap. Dale Jr. remained in the top-five for the rest of the race, finishing fourth behind Sadler, Kahne and Jeff Gordon.
Dale Jr. Quotes: "We were real lucky today. I'm disappointed in the way the car ran, but happy with the way the team hung in there and got a good finish. Our car wasn't that good, but we took advantage of the yellow flags with good fuel mileage and were able to hold on to our track position at the end of the race. It's great for us to get these kind of finishes even when we don't have a good car. I've seen a lot of championships won by teams who are able to make the best of these kind of days, and I think it says a lot about our team. I'm real happy for Elliott (Sadler). I know Kasey (Kahne) was trying for his first win, but Elliott's my buddy and I'm happy to see him win."
"We made a lot of changes on the car today, but we never could get it turn like it should have. The changes actually hurt us, which didn't seem to make a lot of sense as the day went on. I was running in the high line -- not because I really wanted to or because I could pass anybody up there -- but because that's where my car would go. I mean, there's a groove up there, but not the ideal line through the corners. It wouldn't turn and I think we'll use this as a learning experience to improve our car the rest of the season."
Best Radio Conversation:
It was a strange day on the Bud radio frequency as the team battled poor reception and nearly continuous interruptions and bleed-over from a nearby concession stand. Most of the interference featured animated conversations in Spanish...
Dale Jr: "Speak up spotter! I can't hear ya!"
Bleed-through: "Porque... (static)... ocho... (shhhhhhhhhhhh)... caliente...(crackle)...
Dale Jr: "Double up what you're saying because I can't hear you when you say 'clear...'"
Bleed-through: "Quando... (shsssshhhhhhh)... aqui... (white noise)... chorita..."
Dale Jr.: "Everybody's frequency's bad! It not you or anybody -- it's everybody!"
Tony Eury Jr. (car chief): "Stevie (Reeves, team spotter), it sounds like you have a bunch of wind noise in your mic..." Bleed-through: "Jose... (cracklecracklecrackle)... que pasa?... 10-4...."
Stevie Reeves: "We're all (spotters) up here in a suite. We're stacked on top of each other, so maybe we're walking all over each other. We're usually spread out, and it's worse when the race goes green and we're all trying to talk over each other."
After a multi-car crash on lap 285, Dale Jr. and the rest of the leaders opted to stay on the track rather than make a late-race pit stop. However, there was debris strewn across the track, creating concern about possible tire punctures...
Dale Jr: "OK, we need to pick somebody here as a friend. Preferably someone behind us or a lapped car -- but we need to scratch each other's backs here. We need to work together to check each other's tires after a few laps under this yellow. Maybe the 18 (Bobby Labonte) will work with us..."
Stevie Reeves: "Sorry -- the 18's spotter is in another suite... (pause)... OK, the 38 (Sadler) will work with us."
Dale Jr: "OK, let's wait until we're close to going green..."
Reeves: "OK -- pull up to the 38 now."
Dale Jr: "He looks good..."
Reeves: "Uh... I just got in trouble. They told me you need to get back in line...(pause) Oh, but everything looks good."
After speaking to the Performance Racing Network on the team radio during a late-race caution period:
Dale Jr: (asking the crew) "How was that?!"
Tony Jr. "Alright. Very good. A lot better than last week..."
Dale Jr.: "Yeah, I didn't want to sound overconfident....heh..."
Sadler and Kahne were battling for the win late in the race, several seconds ahead of Dale Jr.
Dale Jr: "Lemme know if Elliott beats him..."
Tony Jr: "Four laps to go... they gotta helluva race going there."
Reeves: "Uh, that's Kasey Kahne, not Bill Elliott in the number 9 car..."
Dale Jr; "I know. That's Elliot Sadler!"
Reeves: "Oh yeah... 10-4."
People! People! People!
Dale Jr. is included in this week's 30th Anniversary special edition of People Magazine (April 12 cover date). His victory in February's Daytona 500 is listed in "The Time of My Life" section devoted to the greatest moments in the lives of celebrities, including Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey, Cuba Gooding Jr., Brad Pitt and Sean 'P Diddy/Puff Daddy/Puffy' Combs.
Started: 7th (This is the third time Dale Jr. has started seventh in the first seven races.)
Finished: 4th (Fourth top-five in seven races)
Points: 3rd place (-35 points behind leader)
Laps Led: 2 times for 4 laps (Dale Jr. has now led each of the five races here at Texas since 2000.)
Best Pit Stop: Stop 1 of 5 / lap 20 / four tires & fuel / 13.2 seconds