Watkins Glen: Dale Earnhardt Jr race report

Stewart Wins Watkins Glen Run, Dale Jr. 42nd Bud Team Sees Another Strong Run End with Engine Woes Tony Stewart continued his summertime hot streak, recovering from a mid-race spin to win the Centurian Boats at the Glen Nextel Cup race...

Stewart Wins Watkins Glen Run, Dale Jr. 42nd
Bud Team Sees Another Strong Run End with Engine Woes

Tony Stewart continued his summertime hot streak, recovering from a mid-race spin to win the Centurian Boats at the Glen Nextel Cup race at Watkins Glen. Stewart's teammate Denny Hamlin finished second while Jimmie Johnson was third. This is Stewart's fourth win at the upstate New York course. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 Budweiser team were one of the fastest cars on track for the first 62 laps until a blown engine ended their day prematurely. Dale Jr. ran as high as second place, and was looking to match or better his career-best finish of third place at Watkins Glen. Unfortunately, the early departure leaves them in 14th place in points, dropping 100 points behind the 12th place cut-off for the Nextel Chase for the Championship. There are four races remaining before the Chase begins.

Key Moments:

Dale Jr., starting from the 14th position based upon owner's points after Bud Pole qualifying was rained-out, wasted little time climbing to 10th place by lap two, then continued his upward progress to seventh place by the first caution period on lap 11. The Bud pit crew - which has been superb of late - continued their hot streak with a quick stop on lap 24, gaining four positions in the pits. As the field cycled through on a series of different pit strategies, the Bud car continued to gain positions, eventually earning second place on lap 45 and gaining each lap on the leader Jeff Gordon. The team made another great pit stop on lap 53, and seemed set to run to the finish without another stop. However, fate intervened on lap 62 when the red No. 8 lost oil pressure and slowed to a halt on the course. It is the third time in the last four races the Bud car has had mechanical woes while running among the top-five, and it is their fifth DNF (did not finish) of the season.

Dale Jr. Quotes:

"The car was great. I want to thank my crew because we were so much better today than we were all weekend. We were terrible in practice and that may have been why we blew up. In practice, I was hitting some very high revs on the engine during my downshifts, using it to help me slow down into the corners, and that may have been what hurt the motor initially and eventually did us in. I apologized to all my guys because we had a great car today in the race. I don't think I've ever driven as hard or as well on a road course, and we easily had one of the four or five best cars out there from my seat. And lemme tell ya, it was a show from where I was sitting.

"It's frustrating to run so well again and then end up here on the trailer with a broken racecar. It seems like the same scene every week. Yeah, it hurts us in the points but we can make it up. This team has been through a lot and I've been through a lot in this business, so we know we can comeback when we're down. We know strange things happen and we could right back in the points in a flash. I'm not giving up and I know those guys there loading up the racecar aren't going to give up. I'm ready to start the race at Michigan (next week's race locale) right now just to get back out there and show how good of a team this is."

Best Radio Chatter:

Dale Jr. and the No. 2 car of Kurt Busch were the focus of a lot of pre-race attention because of their close battle for 12th place in the point standings. The two cars got very, very close early in the race, as Dale Jr. pushed Busch down the frontstretch on lap seven to pass Matt Kenseth, then Busch swung wide in turn one, allowing the Bud car to slice past...

Dale Jr. (five laps later under caution): "Wow. It's been a show in here!"

Tony Eury Jr: "You're doin' good."

Dale Jr: "The 2 (Busch) is quick. He's hard to beat."

Eury Jr: "On the timing charts, he's a little quicker. The leaders are quicker - but you've got the rest of the field covered on lap times. Just run your own pace."

Dale Jr. (to spotter Steve Hmiel): "Tell the 2 spotter that I didn't mean to push him into (turn) one. I was bump-drafting him to try to get by the 17 (Kenseth). I was trying to push him and he ran wide in turn one. I'm sure I didn't help."

Hmiel: "June, he said it's all good..."

***

A caution flag flew on lap 39 while Dale Jr. was running third.

Hmiel: "Caution's out June - debris in turn 11."

Dale Jr: "Yeah, there's oil or something there. I about busted my (butt)!"

Eury Jr: "What did you think of the changes (on the last pit stop)?"

Dale Jr: (surprised) "Did you change something?!?"

Eury Jr: (sheepishly) "A lil'..."

Dale Jr.: "Why?! It felt better before, I guess... For me, it's all about catching people. If I'm catching the guys in front of me, I'm happy as (expletive deleted). I'm cool. I'm doin' what I can do. It was a little tight at the start of the run, but there was better forward bite as the run went along."

***

Dale Jr. ran second to Jeff Gordon for several laps, closing slightly each lap with quicker lap times.

Eury Jr: "You're clear by 15 (car lengths). Just take it easy."

Dale Jr: "Tell the 24 (Gordon) I wanna lead a lap!"

Hmiel: "10-4."

Dale Jr.: "I mean, I'm trying to catch him - but he ain't gonna let me by! I'd better take it a little easier here because I'm gonna get myself in trouble if I push too hard..."

-credit: dei

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Denny Hamlin