Sunday, April 6, 2003
Earnhardt Jr. wins Busch race
NASCAR notebook: He's perfect 2-for-2 this season in series
The Associated Press
TALLADEGA, Ala. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. had just enough gas to wiggle across the finish line Saturday and win the Busch Series race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Earnhardt, who has three consecutive Winston Cup victories at Talladega, did not have enough gas to win the race under a green flag.
But a caution with two laps to go allowed him to slow enough to conserve fuel by pulling down on the apron and moving his car back and forth to move the gas around. That let him make it across the finish line to go 2-for-2 in Busch Series events this year.
Earnhardt, who won the season-opener at Daytona, ran out of gas right after he crossed the finish line for the Aaron's 312. He needed a push from Jason Keller to make it back around the track.
"We ran out in Turn 1, right after we took the checkers," Earnhardt said. "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."
His late father is the all-time winningest driver on NASCAR's longest and fastest track, with 14 victories in three series.
STEWART'S CAR: NASCAR still has possession of Tony Stewart's car, a week after it failed inspection at Texas Motor Speedway, and there's no guarantee the Joe Gibbs Racing team will get it back.
The sanctioning body took the unprecedented step of impounding the No. 20 Chevrolet last week when it didn't meet an inspection template. Winston Cup director John Darby said there would be no further penalties to the team.
"The end fate of the 20 car is still undecided," Darby said. "It could or could not be returned. But I am pretty comfortable that if and when it does get returned, it probably won't be in the same state we got it in."
NASCAR is keeping the car to learn why it didn't match the templates and what the results would have been if the car had been allowed on the track. The Monte Carlo is currently at NASCAR's Research and Development Center in North Carolina and it could be taken to a wind tunnel for further testing. Darby said the Gibbs team could be held responsible for any costs incurred during NASCAR's tests of the cars.
ROUSH ENJOYING LIFE: It has been almost one year since Jack Roush survived a near-fatal plane crash, and the car owner said he has treasured every day since the accident.
"It's been a great year," he said. "I feel like I'm coming up on my first birthday in my second life. I've almost certainly paid more attention to myself and to things going on around me than I did in the preceding decade."
Roush sustained a head injury and broke his left leg when the small plane he was piloting on his 60th birthday crashed into a Troy lake last April 19. He was in Alabama for races at Talladega Superspeedway.
He almost drowned, but Larry Hicks, a retired Marine, saw the plane crash and dove into the lake to save Roush. Back at Talladega almost a year later, Roush said he spent time Friday celebrating the birthday of one of the doctors who treated him. He's also kept a relationship with Hicks, who has come to races as Roush's guest. Roush said he has ruled out staying in bed or playing bingo as possible activities. Unless it rains, he said he plans to be up in the air.
NO NO. 28: Long after Davey Allison's death, the NASCAR star was remembered by many who saw his famed No. 28 circle the track.
Not anymore: The car number, the paint scheme and the team are different this season. Few paid much attention until NASCAR came to Talladega Superspeedway - Allison's home track - without the No. 28. Rookie Jamie McMurray now drives the No. 42 Dodge sponsored by Havoline. Allison raced the Texaco-Havoline car to 19 career wins in the No. 28 Ford.
Drivers have gone in and out of the seat since Allison died 10 years ago after he crashed while landing his helicopter at Talladega. But the number and the paint scheme were always a constant - until this year, when the sponsor left Robert Yates Racing to back a car for Chip Ganassi.
Race: Aaron's 499, Talladega, Ala.
Time/TV: Noon/Chs. 19, 45
Track: Talladega Superspeedway (tri-oval, 2.66 miles, 33 degrees banking in turns).
Race distance: 500 miles, 188 laps.
Defending champ: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Fast facts: Chevrolets have won 17 of the last 23 races at Talladega, including the last eight. ... A total of 34 of the 68 NASCAR races at Talladega have been won from the first three starting positions.
Next race: Virginia 500, April 13, Martinsville.
|1. M. Kenseth|| 1,090|
| 2. K. Busch|| 935|
| 3. D. Earnhardt Jr.|| 924|
| 4. M. Waltrip|| 898|
| 5. J. Johnson|| 885|
| 6. J. Gordon|| 864|
| 7. T. Stewart|| 849|
| 8. R. Newman|| 848|
| 9. R. Craven|| 840|
| 10. K. Harvick|| 802|
| 11. B. Labonte|| 784|
| 12. R. Rudd|| 780|
| 13. M. Martin|| 773|
| 14. R. Wallace|| 771|
| 15. D. Jarrett|| 752|
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