Texas: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Texas-Sized Win for Biffle, Bud Team Ninth Dale Jr. Gets Fifth Top-10 in Six Career Starts at Texas Greg Biffle recorded a strong victory Sunday at the Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, leading 219 of the 334 laps. Jamie McMurray finished...

Texas-Sized Win for Biffle, Bud Team Ninth
Dale Jr. Gets Fifth Top-10 in Six Career Starts at Texas

Greg Biffle recorded a strong victory Sunday at the Radio Shack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, leading 219 of the 334 laps. Jamie McMurray finished second, followed by points leader Jimmie Johnson in third-place. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team spent the majority of the afternoon among the top-10 positions, finishing ninth. It is the fifth top-10 finish in six starts for Earnhardt Jr. at the 1.5-mile Texas speedway, where he scored his first career victories in both the Busch and Nextel Cup series. It is the first time he has not led a lap at Texas in his Cup career, but the top-10 tally moves him forward one position in points to 15th, only 110 points behind the fourth-place position and less than 70 points out of the top-10. This is the third top-10 finish in seven starts in 2005 for Dale Jr.

Key Moments:

Starting 11th, Dale Jr. stayed among the top-10 for the first 80 laps, then struggled through the mid-section of the event before making a strong run into the top-five with less than 50 laps to go. A series of yellow flags slowed the field before the final pit stop for the Bud team on lap 298. The final set of tires did not agree with the chassis, and Dale Jr. hung on to finish ninth.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

"It's a frustrating way to end it. I thought we had a top-five car at the end, and we did. We were really getting stronger and stronger, and then we put on the last set of tires for the final 30-some laps, and it just got too tight. That's so frustrating to work hard all day, work into a top-five car, then have a set of tires be off that much. You'd think with the technology today, it wouldn't be that way. You'd think you have a good car, and ya think that wouldn't happen, but it does, and that's the way it goes.

"Overall, I'm happy with the day - it's another good points day. Chippin' away, ya know. This is a track where I can come in with a lot of confidence - a lot like Atlanta or Charlotte - where we expect to be good and I can drive with some confidence. We did struggle some today, but we made changes that made the car faster as the race went along, then we got to that last set of tires...

I don't know if I've ever driven as hard in my life as I have in the last few weeks since Bristol. This team makes me wanna drive hard. I want to do well for them. We're still not totally where we need to be as a team, but we're getting there. I stepped up my commitment to the team this week and Pete (Rondeau, crew chief) and the rest of the guys have stepped up as well. That's what it takes: the whole team."

Best Radio Chatter:

Dale Jr. ran among the top-10 early in the race, and soon saw his teammate, Michael Waltrip in his number 15 car, join him near the front of the pack.

Steve Hmeil (spotter): "That's the 15 in your mirror..." (Waltrip goes by, quickly)

Dale Jr.: (cheering on Waltrip) "Yeah! He's getting' on with it!" Hmeil: "Yeah, he's lookin' pretty good..."

During a yellow-flag period on lap 80, the Performance Racing Network (PRN) checked-in to chat with Driver #8...

PRN: "Junior, your car looks pretty racy so far, how's the track?"

Dale Jr: "Well, here at Texas, remember when they had all that water runnin' everywhere? (The race weekend has traditionally been plagued by heavy rain.) All that water really moves dirt around behind the banking and it creates a lot of bumps. The higher you go, it's like a motorcross track. Michael (Waltrip)'s pretty good up there, but I bounce around a lot. I'm not so fast up high..."J

During a yellow flag segment (lap 210):

Dale Jr: '"It's wasn't 'wreckin' tight,' but it was worse that run. I need you guys to start using your heads. Talk to me. All I've heard all day is '10-4, 10-4, 10-4, 10-4.... (long silence, then more diplomatic...) Believe it or not, I'm smilin' in here. I ain't mad at anyone..."

Pete Rondeau (crew chief): "I'm trying to tell ya what ya need to hear. I'm just tellin' ya the stuff we talked about a few weeks ago. I'm trying to be brief.... (pause) Ya still smilin' in there?" Dale Jr: "Well, while I got this chip on my shoulder, I'm gonna put it to good use here at the green (flag)."

During yellow flag, lap 271, as Dale Jr. couldn't avoid slight contact in the aftermath of Kasey Kahne's hard crash.

Dale Jr: "I got into the back of the 66 car. I was in some oil - I couldn't slow down enough. Couldn't get on the brakes. I couldn't do anything. We might want to work on the front here..."

Rondeau: "It looks good from here, Junior. I think we're OK. And, we're within our (fuel) window...How was your racecar?"

Dale Jr: "It was better at the start, but it went away quicker. I may have worn it out racin' with Michael (Watrip). He got around me and the 6 car, and I felt like racin' him..."

-dei-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Michael Waltrip , Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Kasey Kahne