Touchstone Energy 300 Saturday notebook By Brett Borden TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 24, 1999) Notes and quotes following Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Touchstone Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Touchstone Energy 300 Saturday notebook By Brett Borden
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 24, 1999) Notes and quotes following Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division Touchstone Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't win the battle, but he's now leading the war again. The defending NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division champion is back in the catbird seat, despite not having made it to Victory Lane yet this season. 'Little E', who won seven races last season, now leads Matt Kenseth by 100 points after finishing 6th in Saturday's race. "That was nerve-wracking, just trying to finish," said Earnhardt of the tight finish, in which 15 cars crossed the line within one second of each other. "We just tried not to crash. We were just lucky to finish how we did."
The man who was king of the NASCAR Busch Series mountain, Elton Sawyer, was one of the first drivers out of the race. The No. 98 went out on Lap 15 with engine failure. Sawyer came in with a one-point lead over Earnhardt, but his 41st-place finish Saturday dropped him to third, 114 points behind Earnhardt and 14 behind Kenseth. "It looks like a broken piston," Sawyer said. "It's unfortunate. These guys have really worked hard all week. We've had a lot of problems with engines all week. We're really looking forward to California next week."
It wasn't exactly Sweet Home Alabama for Jimmy Kitchens, whose engine couldn't stand the heat after only seven laps. The Hueytown, Ala., native finished 42nd. "We really had the Monte Carlo running good up in the lead draft and felt like we could hang on to them all day," said Kitchens. "I just really hate it for the team and all the fans from Alabama. I wanted to give them a top-10 finish. About halfway down the back straightaway, we got a big time vibration in it and I think we lost an engine."
Jason Keller was the first accident victim of the day. On lap 40 he was tapped from behind by Todd Bodine, who was tapped from behind by someone else. "Our car was running the best it was ever running on a superspeedway," said Keller. "We were just up there buying our time. We had worked our way up to the top-5. It was a great car, but we don't have a lot to show for it now. At the beginning of the race, there was a lot of give and take in there, a little bit more of the take than the give. I got a little bit of help there -- uncalled for. I probably could handle it a little bit better if it was late in the race, but man, early in the race it's uncalled for."
Lyndon Amick put in a strong run with a 5th-place finish. The driver of the No. 35 Scana/Powertel Chevrolet said he had help from above in getting his top-5. "First, I just want to thank God for giving me the chance to do this," said Amick. "We finished a race, finally, and we finished 5th. Both of the wrecks wer right behind me where I could see them, so we were very lucky."
Source: NASCAR Online