Sunday’s fourth place finish on Sunday’s Brickyard 400 has moved Dale Earnhardt Jr 14 points ahead of Matt Kenseth, who is in second place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. When asked how it feels to be running first in the standings, Earnhardt noted that it is a reflection on how hard his team has worked and that he was proud of their achievements, but no doubt echoed his team and his fans’ sentiments by saying that he would like to win some more races.
Jimmy Johnson took the checkered flag in the Brickyard 400, bringing his career wins in the race to four, matching the record of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon – the only other NASCAR driver to win this particular race four times at the historic Indianapolis racetrack. It was Hendrick Motorsports’ eighth win out of the nineteen Indianapolis NASCAR races. While acknowledging that winning at Indianapolis is special because of the track’s unique history, Hendrick noted that his team put the same amount of effort into every race and that winning a championship called for being good everywhere. Johnson completed his victory lap in a pace car with his wife, daughter and crew members accompanying him.
Kyle Busch took second place just 4.758 seconds behind Johnson, with Greg Biffle in third, Dale Earnhardt Jr in fourth place, Jeff Gordon fifth and Denny Hamlin in sixth. Matt Kenseth finished the race in 35th place after being wrecked in a crash triggered by Joey Logano with only 26 laps remaining, describing the events as “frustrating”.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series top ten standings are:
Dale Earnhardt Jr – #88 Chevrolet – 731 points
Matt Kenseth – #17 Ford – 717 points
Greg Biffle – #16 Ford – 709 points
Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevrolet – 704 points
Denny Hamlin – #11 Toyota – 667 points
Kevin Harvick – #29 Chevrolet – 653 points
Martin Truex Jr – #56 Toyota – 653 points
Tony Stewart – #14 Chevrolet – 652 points
Brad Keselowski – #2 Dodge – 649 points
Clint Bowyer – #15 Toyota – 643 points
Top three Nationwide Series standings are: Elliott Sadler in the #2 Chevrolet with 704 point; Austin Dillon in the #3 Chevrolet with 703 points; and Ricky Stenhouse Jr in the #6 Ford with 691 points. The Camping World Truck Series top three are: Timothy Peters in the #17 Toyota with 395 points, Ty Dillon in the #3 Chevrolet; and Justin Lofton in the #6 Chevrolet with 365 points.
Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. cross the finish line in first place, breaking his dry spell of 143 races without a win. His last Sprint Cup victory was also in Michigan, almost four years ago to the day. With 25 laps of the 400-mile race to go, Earnhardt pulled away in his No. 88 Chevrolet and held the lead to cross the finish line ahead of Tony Stewart by 5.393 seconds.
Earnhardt’s 11 top-ten finishes this season put him second in the points standings as the race began, but there were mixed opinions as to whether he would take the checkered flag, particularly after a four-year break from that achievement. To say that loyal fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. were delighted with the win, would be an understatement, and the fact that he has a loyal fan-base was certainly not lost on the triumphant drive. In a post-race interview he noted that the victory was for his fans who had stuck behind him over the years, adding that he and his team wouldn’t have made it back to Victory Lane without their support.
With an average speed of 139.144 per hour, Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned 48 points for his Quickens Loans 400 Sprint Cup Series win. Tony Stewart (#14 Chevrolet) took second place, with Matt Kenseth (#17 Ford) in at third, followed by Gregg Biffle (#16 Ford) and Jimmie Johnson (#48 Chevrolet). The current top ten standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are:
1. Matt Kenseth – #17 Ford – 565 points
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – #88 Chevrolet – 561 points
3. Greg Biffle – #16 Ford – 548 points
4. Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevrolet – 532 points
5. Denny Hamlin – #11 Toyota – 514 points
6. Kevin Harvick – #29 Chevrolet – 504 points
7. Martin Truex Jr. – #56 Toyota – 497
8. Tony Stewart – #14 Chevrolet – 491
9. Clint Bowyer – #15 Toyota – 481
10. Brad Keselowski – #2 Dodge – 458 points
The next 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup race will be the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on June 24 June at Sonoma, followed by the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky on June 30.
Sunday, 20 February, was a day of excitement, thrills, victory and remembrance at Daytona International Speedway. Tribute was also paid to Dale Earnhardt Sr., who ten years ago, on the 18th of February, was involved in a fatal crash at Daytona. Always driving the number three car, fans stood in silence holding up three fingers on the third lap of the Daytona 500 in remembrance of a legend. It was not long after that, that the action on the speedway started, with black flags, car crashes and an unforgettable victory for Trevor Bayne.
The 2011 Daytona 500 was a race that kept everyone busy. Spectators were holding onto their seats as collisions caused restarts and no less than seventy-four lead changes. Clean up crews had their hands full and even Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were taken out the race due to a crash a mere six laps from the finish. The Daytona 500 was also sent into an overtime period due to another incident four laps from the finish. A mistake made by David Regan on a restart, by changing lanes too soon, saw Trevor Bayne take the lead, and experienced drivers fighting to find a way to outclass the twenty year old rookie.
Trevor Bayne drives for the Wood Brothers racing team, which was established in 1950 by Glen Wood. The team tasted their first success in North Carolina on 16 October 1960. But in the last ten years, the team has not enjoyed one victory, until their well-known red and white Ford crossed that finish line with an elated Bayne behind the wheel.
When asked about the black flag incident that put him in the lead, Bayne commented: “That rule is tough. Do I agree with it? I don’t know what to say because we’re sitting here in victory lane… Neither one of us might have ended up in victory lane had he not gotten black-flagged. I have to thank them for getting us up there because if it wasn’t for them we never would have been in that situation to take the lead.”
An elated Eddie Wood, team owner, commented: “We never did quit. We just kept trying. Bringing back the red and white car with the gold numbers that Pearson drove, that just seemed like it put things back to normal.”
Trevor Bayne also became the youngest driver to win the Daytona 500, in the history of the race.
Together with brother, Kerry, Dale Earnhardt Jr, bought a street car from a junkyard. The brothers built the car into street stock car, and Dale Earnhardt Jr started racing in the street stock division at the early age of 17. This is where his professional driving career started, which isn’t all that surprising, as racing is in his blood, with his father already a well known name around the tracks. Dale was a natural, and it only took him two seasons to move up to the ranks of NASCAR, in the Late Model Stock Division. This move saw Dale racing on tracks like Hickory Motor Speedway, Nashville Speedway USA, Florence Motor Speedway and Tri-County Speedway. His career was underway, and by his third year in NASCAR Winston Racing Series, Dale had managed to secure 113 starts, he had won three races and had taken twelve poles.
The year 1996 turned out to be his best up to then. Dale Earnhart Jr had made 53 starts, won two races, grabbed eight poles and finished second at Florence, in points. This year also had Dale start his career in the NASCAR Busch Series. His first effort was a job well done, as he had qualified 7th, and on race day, he finished in 14th position.
The year 1998 was an exciting year for Dale Earnhardt Jr. He started his first full season in the NASCAR Busch Series, and his first race was the NAPA 300, which took place at the Daytona International Speedway. Unfortunately for Dale, his first race did not go as planned and he was involved in a wreck, thankfully walking away unharmed. On 4 April 1998, at the Coca-Cola 300, which was raced at the Texas Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr, proudly took first place. But it was the announcement that took place on 21 September 1998, that Dale had been waiting for. His potential had been spotted by Budweiser, and they had agreed to sponsor him to drive in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
Dale Earnhardt Jr, followed in the footsteps of his father, but with his own style, grace and confidence, that secured him his own fan-base and a career apart from his father. Dale Earnhardt Snr in turn, supported his son, and was happy to just be the proud father and play a supporting role in his son’s career. Tragedy struck this close bond in 2001. It was the first race of the new racing season, and fans were terribly excited as Michael Waltrip won the race, Dale Earnhardt Jr came in second and third place was to be Dale Earnhardt Snr. This is an ending fans only dream about, and the atmosphere was electric. But on the last lap, Dale Earnhardt Snr crashed his car, and lost his life in the sport he loved, and in a position he was proud of, supporting his son. The tragic loss not only tore through a family, but broke the heart of every supporter.
As his father would have wanted him to, Dale Earnhardt Jr continued to achieve in in this fiercely competitive and fast-paced sport, becoming a legend in his own right. By the end of 2009, Dale Earnhardt Jr had 18 wins to his name, with 89 finishes in the Top Five, and 144 in the Top Ten. His last win was the 2008 Lifelock 400 Sprint Cup at Michigan International Speedway. He qualified second and finished second in the 2010 Daytona 500. He set the record for the fastest recorded qualifying time (28.76) at 310.2 kph at Atlanta Motor Speedway in a Car of Tomorrow on 5 March 2010. There’s little doubt that fans can expect plenty of nail-biting action from this talented NASCAR driver in the months to come.
After just barely surviving a mass of collisions at the AMP Energy 500 on Sunday, October 5, an exuberant Tony Stewart managed to take home the winner’s trophy. This was his first ever win at Talladega Superspeedway and Stewart certainly had a lot to be thankful for after a very difficult and trying race.
The Talladega Superspeedway is known for its ability to produce excitement – lots of it. The race held here on Sunday was certainly no exception to the rule. Things got really hair-raising just fourteen laps from the end of the race when Carl Edward’s Ford lost grip on the track and spun out. This created a chain-reaction, which left a number of cars spinning all over the track. Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Matt Kenseth were amongst those caught in the mess. All four of them are engaged in the battle for NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, so the tangle would have caused a fair amount of frustration. Juan Pablo Montoya, Dave Blaney, Michael Waltrip, Travis Kvapil and Reed Sorensen were less fortunate and were either sidelined or seriously damaged in the incident. By the end of it, Tony Stewart was able to pull out ahead of the pack. But he wasn’t about to have it easy. Rookie Regan Smith was hot on his tail for most of the remainder of the race and he even made a last-minute attempt to pass the two-time champion. Unfortunately for Smith, passing below the yellow line is prohibited in NASCAR rules.
Despite his attempts to get into first place on the last lap, it was Smith’s teammate Paul Menard who eventually crossed the finish line in second place. Officials didn’t take Smith’s unruly behaviour very well and, as punishment for his rule violation, Smith was moved back to 18th place. David Ragan finished third, Burton claimed fourth place and Bowyer finished fifth. The race set a new all-time record for leaders in a race with 27 drivers taking the lead during the course of the race. The ever-changing race leaders gave the crowds plenty to cheer for and there wasn’t a dull moment at Talladega that day!