BUSCH: Earnhardt Jr tames the Talladega monster

BUSCH: Earnhardt Jr tames the Talladega monster

Talladega, AL - Dale Earnhardt, Jr. coasted on the apron almost out of fuel, yet managed to bring the No. 8 Chance2 Motorsports Chevy to victory lane under yellow. Earnhardt scored his 17th career Busch Series victory, and his first Busch win at...

Talladega, AL - Dale Earnhardt, Jr. coasted on the apron almost out of fuel, yet managed to bring the No. 8 Chance2 Motorsports Chevy to victory lane under yellow. Earnhardt scored his 17th career Busch Series victory, and his first Busch win at Talladega.

It is Earnhardt's second win this season; he also won the season-opener at Daytona.

Dale Earnhardt Jr..
Photo by Greg Gage.
With four laps to go, Earnhardt was leading with Joe Nemechek married to his back bumper when the No. 46 Chevy of Ashton Lewis, Jr. ran out of gas. Lewis could not make it to pit road and his car came to rest on the apron of the race track bringing out the fifth caution of the day.

Without enough laps left to red flag the race, it seemed as if Earnhardt had sewed up the victory, but the drama for the win didn't end there. All of the top four cars were dangerously low on fuel, and it became a 70 mph nail-biter to see who could make it to the checkered flag. In the end, Earnhardt squeezed out every last drop, but ran out of gas soon after crossing the line and had to be pushed to the winners circle.

"That was pretty bad there," said Earnhardt, who led a race high 60 laps. "I was really pretty worried and the car really did run out of gas. I mean it was still running when I crossed the finish line, but right after that it was out.

"We ran out in Turn 1, right after we took the checkered. We had a good car all day long; we just didn't have enough gas if it went green.

"So we really needed that caution, and even then I had to shake it back and forth to get enough gas out of it."

Earnhardt is no stranger to success at Talladega. He has swept all of the last three Winston Cup races at this 2.66-mile track. A feat only one other driver, Buddy Baker, has on his resume.

"The racing gods here at Talladega really like the Earnhardt family because we seem to do pretty good here," Earnhardt commented.

Nemechek, last week's winner at Texas, just didn't have enough time to maneuver around the No. 8 Chevy before the final caution waved. He finished second.

"I thought we had something for him, but we ran out of time," stated Nemechek. "I couldn't believe that caution came out and then he ran out of gas.

"I don't think he was going to make it. If he ran out, I was ready to go. But today he got lucky because he made it."

Rounding out the top five are Shane Hmiel, Ron Hornaday and Mike Bliss.

The "Big One" came relatively early in the race at lap ten. Twenty-one cars were involved in a turn four melee sparked by Johnny Sauter's No. 21 RCR Chevy blowing a tire.

A disappointed Sauter commented after the accident, "I don't know what we have to do, we've had two bad weeks in a row."

"I just was going down the back straightaway and going into Turns 3 and 4 and I started feeling a vibration. Next thing I know I'm sideways and everybody's running into me."

Sauter managed to get the No. 21 RCR Chevy back into the competition, finishing 26th.

Also mixed-up in the incident were championship contenders Todd Bodine and Jason Keller. Both were able to get back into the event, but finished several laps down in 27th and 28th respectively.

Even with the poor finish, Bodine retains the top spot in series standings followed by McMurray, Hornaday, and Hmiel. Keller falls three positions to round out the top five.

"The Albertsons guys brought a brand new hot rod here for me after that wreck in Daytona, and here we are again," commented Keller.

All of the drivers involved in the lap ten skirmish were treated and released from the infield care center, including the ones who were able to return to competition once the crews fixed the damaged cars.

Randy McDonald was transported to Carraway Methodist Hospital in Birmingham for further observation.

Notably, Alabama native Tina Gordon garnered her series best career finish in tenth.

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Todd Bodine , Jason Keller , Joe Nemechek , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Tina Gordon , Shane Hmiel , Johnny Sauter , Randy McDonald , Mike Bliss , Ashton Lewis , Buddy Baker