Watkins Glen: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Budweiser Team Scores Top-10 Finish at Watkins Glen Stewart makes it back-to-back victories Tony Stewart capped another dominating weekend by leading 83 of 92 laps to win the Sirius Satellite Radio at the Glen at Watkins Glen International on ...

Budweiser Team Scores Top-10 Finish at Watkins Glen
Stewart makes it back-to-back victories

Tony Stewart capped another dominating weekend by leading 83 of 92 laps to win the Sirius Satellite Radio at the Glen at Watkins Glen International on Sunday. It is Stewart's fifth win in the last seven races, adding cushion to his lead in the NASCAR Nextel Cup point standings. Robby Gordon finished second and Boris Said third. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #8 Budweiser team took the checkers in 10th place, their fourth top-10 in the last six races and his third straight top-10 here on the Watkins Glen road course. The finish moves Junior up one spot to 15th in the point standings. He is now 163 points out of the top-10 and 93 points from 14th.

Key Moments:

Dale Jr. started 16th by virtue of a rainout of Bud Pole Qualifying, but his rise to a top-10 finish started from the back, as an untimely caution and an incomplete cycle of pit stops left the Budweiser car stuck in 37th. From there, Junior slowly and methodically began his trek through the field, dodging several close wrecks along the way. The Brew Crew made strategic pit stops on laps 21, 26 and 56, none of which required major chassis adjustments. A restart with 28 laps to go (from the scheduled finish) had Dale Jr. back in his original starting spot. From there he passed six cars in the final circuits around the seven-turn road course to score his ninth top-10 of the season.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

IS THIS FINISH WHAT THE TEAM NEEDED TO GET BACK ON TRACK? "It's better than what I thought we'd get, and I think my team is happy about the finish. I'm just real disappointed I got into Dale Jarrett in the race there, spun him around, he got in the wall. That's bothering right now more than anything, because we're pretty good friends. It's hard going out there and racing people you've got so much respect for. I should've been thinking about that when he was in front of me I guess."

ARE YOU AWARE OF WHO YOU'RE RACING IN THE POINTS WHEN YOU'RE ON THE TRACK? "No idea. I can't keep up with all that, hell, that's too much to worry about. I just try to get as many points as I can, and then I get on NASCAR.com when I get home and see if I gained any ground. That's about how it works."

WAS THERE A LOT OF BLOCKING GOING ON DURING THE RACE TODAY? "There was a lot of blocking going on. Most of the time, you tolerate it. But towards the end of the race, I mean, it depends on the personality if you can handle it or not. If somebody keeps aggravating you, sometimes you need a deep threshold for that kind of stuff. I don't really block a lot. If a guy makes a move on me, I just try to out-brake him. I don't really drive in front of him, because you get spun out a lot of times."

Best Radio Chatter:
Radio transmission was again a problem for the Bud team, and it became a boiling point for Dale Jr. during the fourth caution. Spotter Jimmy Kitchens, perched on a tower near the esses, had to often moderate the communication between Dale Jr. and the Brew Crew, as Junior's radio transmissions weren't making it to the pit box.

Dale Jr.: (to spotter Jimmy Kitchens) "Can they not hear me from the pits?"

Kitchens: (to crew chief Steve Hmiel): "Steve, can you hear Junior?"

Hmiel: "No sir."

Kitchens: "They cannot hear you on pit road, June."

Dale Jr. vented about the faulty radios to Kitchens, who then reported it back to the pit box:

Kitchens: "Steve, basically, Dale Jr. is saying one of the biggest problems is he's talking, and he gets no response, and he gets bent out of shape because he feels like he's talking to just air. We need to work on the communication end."

Hmiel: "10-4, Jimmy."

Dale Jr.: "You know how it is, Jimmy, when you can't talk to the crew, you get madder than hell. Just let them know I'm bent out of shape, but now that I vented, I'm not so bent out of shape. Heh heh."

Kitchens: "Hell yeah man, we'll take care of it and get it better."

Dale Jr.: "Getting mad is the only way I can stay up on the wheel, know what I mean?"

Kitchens: "You're doing good, man. Hang in there, and we'll try to piss you off again here in a bit."

Dale Jr.: "Yeah, piss me off! It'll get you half a second!" Hmiel: (after being wired with a new radio) "OK, talk to me Junior. This is a different radio."

Dale Jr.: "Hey, much better! All I was saying is I like the way the car drives. The radios need to be better. And I drive a half-second faster when I'm pissed off. So get me angry."

At lap 58, it was apparent the Bud car was the best it had been all weekend.

Hmiel: "That lap was faster than what he qualified, Jimmy." (Note: All but eight cars turned qualifying laps before rain set in and prevented the completion. As a result, all times were nullified, and the field was set on owner's points. Dale Jr.'s qualifying lap was clocked at 73.64.)

Kitchens: "10-4, Junior, that lap was faster than what you qualified."

By the time the fifth caution waved, Junior had climbed from the back of the pack up to 15th:

Dale Jr.: "Ok, on this set of tires I'm a little bit tighter, but I got more forward bite."

Hmiel: "10-4. I don't know if you heard me a little while ago, but that second lap after you put tires on, you were quicker than you qualified, and we're going to stay put right now. Coming to 40 to go."

Dale Jr.: "Alright. What's our fuel look like?"

Hmiel: "We're set to go on fuel."

Dale Jr.: "Alright, thanks for that information. Every spot counts now."

Hmiel: "Yep, we gotcha. We're in good shape. Doing a great job, June. Especially since you really didn't know what you had under ya."

Dale Jr.: "Yeah, just need to know if I need to go hustle. I've got to race hard every position. Can't give no more (spots) up."

Hmiel: "We are NOT pitting. We're good to go on fuel no matter what happens. We could even do a green-white-checkered."

Dale Jr.: "Alright. What position am I in?"

Hmiel: "You should be about 15th once they get stopped pitting. Right now we are 17th."

Dale Jr.: "Beautiful... Alright, I'm gonna push it pretty hard here. We'll see how it plays out."


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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Jarrett , Tony Stewart , Boris Said , Robby Gordon , Jimmy Kitchens