Texas II: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Carl Edwards Wins at Texas, Dale Jr. Eighth No. 8 Budweiser Team Earns Sixth Top-10 Finish in Seven Texas Races Carl Edwards passed his teammate Mark Martin on the next-to-last lap to win the 334-lap Dickie's 500 at Texas Motor Speedway....

Carl Edwards Wins at Texas, Dale Jr. Eighth
No. 8 Budweiser Team Earns Sixth Top-10 Finish in Seven Texas Races

Carl Edwards passed his teammate Mark Martin on the next-to-last lap to win the 334-lap Dickie's 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Edward's fourth win of the season moves the first-year driver into third place in the NASCAR Nextel Chase for the Cup. Matt Kenseth was third, while points leader Tony Stewart was sixth. Stewart leads the Chase for the Cup by 38 points over Jimmie Johnson with two races remaining. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team continued their recent resurgence with an eighth-place finish. It is the sixth time in seven races at the 1.5-mile Texas track that Dale Jr. has finished ninth or better, including his first career Cup victory in 2000. This is the 13th top-10 tally of the 2005 season, and moves Dale Jr. up one position to 18th in the Nextel Cup standings.

Key Moments: Starting 10th, Dale Jr. moved into the top-five on lap 14 and ran among the top-10 until making a pit stop on lap 245 to place a rubber into the right rear spring to help the car turn better through turns three and four. The lengthy stop to make the adjustments dropped the red No. 8 car to 23rd place, and Dale Jr. used the final 90 laps to climb back into the top-10. The final laps weren't without drama, as a late race yellow flag on lap 319 bunched the field, and a variety of pit stop strategies played out. The Bud team opted for two fresh tires rather than four, which allowed them to remain among the top-10 for the final dash the finish.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

"It feels good to get a decent finish out of that effort today. I mean, eighth isn't great, and the car was never as good as I really wanted, but we were able to run near the front most of the day. We fought the car all day: it was tight. The nose just didn't want to turn, especially in (turns) three and four. There are some bumps there (in the middle of the corner), and I never could get the car comfortable through there. We made a lot of changes in the pits, and it seemed like we were better as the night went on, but we would be good for only a few laps after each restart, then it was right back to the same push. At least the car was consistent, it wasn't like I'd go out there after every pit stop and wonder 'what the hell is this thing gonna do now?' (chuckles) It was always the same. A few laps: good. A few more laps: push. I knew I had to pass people right away. We made some changes on a late stop that dropped us back into the pack, but we were able to move our way up through there, and then it was the right call to take two tires on the last stop (on lap 320)."

Best Radio Chatter:

Dale Jr. had a close call on lap 82 while running in the fifth position. Greg Biffle, who led the race early, passed the Bud car while trying to make-up a lap lost when he made an unscheduled pit stop, and then lost control immediately in front of Dale Jr., spinning across the front of the No. 8 machine.

Dale Jr.: "WOW! That was close!"

Jimmy Kitchens (spotter): "There was no contact there."

Dale Jr: "If I took air off him, I didn't mean to do that. I'm sorry if I was really that close to him. Was I really that close?"

Tony Eury Jr. (crew chief): "I dunno. We're going to look at a replay here."

Dale Jr: "OK, look. That was really close to hitting him when he spun across..."

Tony Jr: "You're OK. We just looked at it. You never touched."

Dale Jr. " OK. Good. We're good with the 16 (Biffle)?"

Tony Jr. "We're all good."

The Bud team ran among the top-10 for much the race, but were never able to mount a serious bid for the lead. As the race came into the latter stages, each position gained became tougher to come by, but a strong pit stop on lap 292 earned the Bud team a few spots.

Dale Jr: (after the stop): "Good job! We got one or two of 'em there. It should be the 8 ahead of the zero (the 0 car of Mike Bliss, who was alongside Dale Jr. at the exit of pit lane)."

Tony Jr: "Yeah, they just showed it on television. You are ahead of the zero car."

Dale Jr.: (with mock formality) "He (Bliss) is in disagreement." Kitchens: "NASCAR just confirmed it: 8, then the 0.

Dale Jr.: OK. Good job."

Tony Jr. :"We're looking at a 40-lap blast here. There will be about 40 to go when we get the green."

Dale Jr. (lecturing his spotter, Kitchens): "OK, spotter, help me here. I'll go to the top only if I have to. I want to be on the bottom. Remember, please help keep me on the bottom. It's faster, so keep tellin' me. If you tell me, I might not go there, but keep telling me it's there."

-dei-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Mike Bliss , Jimmy Kitchens , Carl Edwards , Tony Eury Jr. , Mark Martin