Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Bud Team celebrate in Victory Lane!
A second victory celebrated in true Earnhardt Jr. fashion
Richmond, VA - Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored his second Winston Cup victory on Saturday night, May 6 in the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
This track has been good to him in the past series - but could he put what he had previously learned to the test in the Cup car - that was the question. He qualified 5th with a great second lap.
Early in the race - Jr. was riding the groove, passing when he could, and staying out of trouble. The experience he had gained at RIR in the Busch series seemed to be helpful to him and the crew. But at one point in the race, Jr. fell back as far as 13th.
The crucial moment of the race came during the final pit stop on lap 363 of the 400 lap event, Jr. came into the pits in second position, just behind the race leader, Tony Stewart. When they left their pits, contact was made between the two cars. Jr. spoke about the bumping incident he had with Tony Stewart on that final pit stop: "He didn't give us a whole lotta room. The 60 car was sticking out in front of me, and I was as close to his guys as I could be without hitting them. Our car was damaged and it did hurt the nose, but I feel bad that Tony had a flat tire - he had the best car out there."
Then on the final restart - Jr. was right behind his dad - Jr. pulled alongside the #3 Chevrolet, driven by his father, and made the pass for the lead on lap 369. The dented front fender caused some ill handling problems for Jr. - but he managed to stay on top of the situation. If the #3 crew had elected for a 4-tire change, there could have been some pretty interesting racing between father and son.
Tony Eury Sr. and the entire crew gave Jr. what he needed to win his second race of the year - but Jr. had his hands full at the end of the race. He held off a strong charging Terry Labonte in the final laps. Jr. said his car was getting tight and he was having trouble getting off the corners as fast, and the #5 car was reeling him in.
But at the checkers, it was Jr. for the win. And all of the 100,000 in attendance were on their feet. After the cool down lap, Jr. smoked up the start/finish line like a real young gun - then in victory lane - he dove into his crews arms from the roof of the Budweiser rocket - kind of like crowd surfing in the mosh pit of a rock concert. He has got to be one of the coolest drivers in Nascar history.
Dad met Jr. in victory lane - his words to his son - as reported by Jr. - "He told me he loved me, but that he was leaving, so I needed to find my own ride home!"
And to add to his victory - his mom Brenda Jackson, who he mentions in a recent Rolling Stone article, was in attendance, and he invited her to take part in the victory lane celebrations alongside him for the trophy presentation.
Jr.'s closing remarks were that of an elated 25-year-old: "We've got a lot of celebrating to do. We have a weekend off and the Budweiser's going to taste real good this week."
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. was victorious for the second time in Winston Cup in this 16th career start, which ties him with the late Davey Allison as the quickest multi-winner in W.C. history.
- He earned $118,850 for the Richmond victory - he has now surpassed the million-dollar mark in his Winston Cup career earnings.
- He is the first driver in the 2000 season to win two races, breaking the string of 10 different winners in the ten races to date.
- Jr. is now only one point behind Kenseth in the ROTY point chase. Kenseth has 133 points - to Jr.'s 132. - This win brought Jr. up to 17th in the points, from 22nd last week.
- Jr.'s comments about the Brew Crew - he said, "they make me look good."
Written by Karen Eryou