It's a rarity in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, but Earnhardt used
his entire allotment of tires during the Sylvania 300, in part
because there were 15 cautions and in part because he had to change
a set during an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 123 after his crew
failed to tighten all the lug nuts properly during the previous stop
"We had to put on some real old tires there," Earnhardt said. "We
ran out of tires, so that last set of tires we put on had some
practice laps on them. We still hung in there and had some good
restarts. We had fun and I'm glad we were able to rebound--that was
pretty dramatic there for a while.
"Had a little issue on the right-front, which is going to happen. We
shook it off and we went back to work. The guys gave me great stops
after that, and I'm proud of my team. You're going to have mistakes.
I'm going to make mistakes, but nobody really got on anybody.
Everybody sort of regrouped and we finished out the day."
Though he lost a lap because of the unscheduled pit stop, Earnhardt
regained it as the highest scored lapped car for a restart on Lap
193. He rallied to finish ninth and heads to next Sunday's
elimination race at Dover tied for fifth in the standings with a
28-point edge on 13th-place Denny Hamlin.
And for those who have started to question Earnhardt's viability as
a championship contender based on his runs at Chicagoland and
Loudon, Earnhardt urges the same sort of patience he showed on
"I know everybody is looking at us like we are falling off a little
bit," Earnhardt said. "But Chicago hadn't been a great track for us,
and New Hampshire hadn't either. Dover has.
"So I'll be surprised if we don't go down there and be competitive.
We were racing for a win there last year and ran pretty good there
this year. I look forward to going and having a good car."
Great save for Kyle Busch, too
On Lap 188 of Sunday's Sylvania 300, Kyle Busch was the innocent
victim of a teammate's spin, but, like Earnhardt, Busch recovered to
maintain a solid position in the standings entering the elimination
race at Dover.
Matt Kenseth's Toyota got loose off Turn 2 and nicked the Chevrolet
of Jamie McMurray, and that started a chain reaction that damaged
the cars of Busch and Kasey Kahne.
"Kenseth was trying to race with the guy in front of him to pass him
and got loose," Busch said. "I checked up, but not quick enough. I
hit him, but then the guy behind me (Kahne), he just drove right
through me. He couldn't see what was going on in front of me. ...
"We kept working on it, kept fighting on it and put fresh tires on
it every chance we could get, and we came back for a really good
finish (eighth), all things considered--and how bad it could have
[to top of second column]
Making the best of a bad situation
Race day at New Hampshire started miserably for AJ Allmendinger.
His No. 47 JTG/Daugherty was handling like a snow plow. Allmendinger
went a lap down to Kevin Harvick, the race leader at the time, on
But Allmendinger capitalized on two free passes as the
highest-scored lapped car and some adjustments to his Chevy that
finally started to bear fruit. Avoiding the chaos that consumed many
of his Chase rivals, he finished 13th and ended the day 10th in the
standings with a legitimate shot at avoiding elimination at Dover.
"We really struggled," Allmendinger said. "I was driving my butt off
to keep us on the lead lap. We got lucky twice with the Lucky Dog
(free pass). Then from there, we started making a couple of
adjustments that were pretty good. I was just bad on the restarts;
really struggled on restarts. Then with about 100 to go, we got a
little bit of track position. I got a good restart there. I could
start on the outside and the car was pretty good there.
"I got clear of everybody and thought at that point, if we stayed
green, we were going to be pretty good, but we had all those
cautions (15 total, five in the last 46 laps). Every caution, I was
on the inside (lane) and that just killed me. So to come home 13th
is pretty good because at about 150, I thought we were going to be
25th, but also had a point where I thought we would be seventh."
The calamities that befell other drivers, however, made 13th an
excellent result for the underdog team.
"There were a lot of mistakes around us," Allmendinger said. "I did
everything I could. The guys fought hard. Proud of everybody on this
Bush's Beans Chevy. We're all digging hard. We're trying to be the
little team that could."
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