Dale 30th In Texas Cup Race by Kellyanne Lynch
15 April 2007
Dale Jarrett's #44 UPS Camry finished 30th in the Samsung 500, today's Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway. The Michael Waltrip Racing entry struggled with valance issues and was three laps down at the checkered flag.
Tornado conditions cancelled qualifying on Friday; therefore, the field was set according to points. Subsequently, Jeff Gordon got the pole position, and Michael Waltrip and David Reutimann did not make the race. Dale Jarrett was slated to start 37th but had to drop to the rear due to an engine change.
The #44 team conducted a radio check at 2:06pm ET.
"All right, fire it up," crew chief Matt Borland said one minute later, after "Stone Cold" Steve Austin gave the command to start engines.
"I don't have any B blowers or anything," Dale told his crew chief.
"No," Matt replied. "You'll just have the one gear fan and the radiator fan." After a moment, he added, "Hey, just a reminder from NASCAR. Drop to the rear. On pit road, you have an opening and then us and then the 5 car and the 14."
"Okay, they're rolling. It's going to be third time by, third time by," the driver's son and spotter Jason Jarrett noted.
The race went green at 2:18pm ET. The yellow flag waved for the first lap finished. Off Turn 4, David Ragan drove up the track and into JJ Yeley. The pair spun across the track, Casey Mears bumped Ricky Rudd, and Rudd ran into Ragan's #6 in the grass.
"Pit road will be open this time, will be open," Jason said after the wreck.
Matt told Dale to stay out if a lot of the leaders pit for position but to come in to top off if a lot of cars don't.
"Quite a few of them came," Dale observed. "I'll stay out. If it's one to go, tell me if you want to come in."
Matt said they'd take those positions.
"Be one to go when you get back," Jason noted. "One to go."
"Staying out here, right?" Dale asked.
"10-4," Matt replied. "Staying out."
"Going to the green. That's the 22 restarting with you," Jason said.
Racing resumed on lap 7 with Gordon leading and Dale in 28th. Paul Menard's #15 passed one lap into the run, and Dave Blaney and Kyle Busch got around the #44 one circuit later.
"The 25's looking outside," Jason warned. "He's got a run. Clear by one behind him."
Casey Mears' #25 passed Dale on lap 12, dropping him to 32nd. Mike Bliss, Brian Vickers, Johnny Sauter, and Ryan Newman all passed within the next lap.
"The 21's got a run off two," Jason noted. "Inside. Still clear, clear by two. Got a run back up to you. Outside, outside. Two of them. One more. Big hole."
Ken Schrader and Kyle Petty passed, moving the #44 back to 38th.
"Tight in the corner," Dale reported.
"10-4," was Matt's response. After a moment, he read off a lap time. "31.32.
"How's the valance now, Dale?" Matt asked on lap 27.
"I can't use the gas off the corner," Dale reported.
"10-4." The crew chief resumed reading off lap times. "31.62."
"31.83." On lap 32, Matt asked, "Temperatures, Dale?"
"10-4," Matt acknowledged. "31.85."
"Leader's about twenty back," Jason warned on lap 34.
"32 flat," Matt read off the lap time. "31.82.
"Leader's the next car back," Jason reported on lap 37. "He's about five back."
"Got a run off 2. Inside. By himself here, by himself. Clear behind him, clear. Next car back right with him. 31 inside," Jason directed. "Be clear behind the 31."
Dale lost the lead lap on lap 40.
"Dale, how's the entry?" Matt asked.
"Ah, it's okay," was Dale's reply.
"20 coming off pit road," Jason warned. "Clear low. 48's about three back."
"Dale, we'll be pitting in eight laps, eight laps," Matt said on lap 42. The #44 was 37th by then; Bobby Labonte and Kenny Wallace pit with an overheating issue.
"Back it down, back it down. Back straightaway somewhere," Jason warned.
The second caution came on lap 45 when Mike Bliss' #49 jerked left on the backstretch and hit the inside wall.
Matt talked about making air pressure adjustments.
"We can try a little, yeah."
Matt confirmed the #44's temperatures before telling his crew, "Four tires and fuel, one out rear bite, pressure adjustment." He also said he wanted tape off the grill.
Cars pit under yellow. Elliott Sadler and Robby Gordon each stayed out to lead a lap. After the stop, Matt told Dale the car had a wrapper on the grill but it was gone now.
"Dale, right now, they're showing you as the first car one lap down," Matt said. He added that Scott Riggs, Ken Schrader, and Ricky Rudd were also on the same lap with him.
"How's the temperature looking?" asked the crew chief.
"Still 240," Dale answered.
"10-4," was Matt's reply. He told his driver to get up to the car in front of him.
"Looks like there's a piece of something on the right front," Jason observed.
"Get tucked up to the 43," Matt adviced. He wanted Dale to get air from the rear of Bobby Labonte's #43 to knock off the debris.
"Coming to the green," Jason noted.
Lap 51 saw the restart. Jeff Gordon led, and Dale was one lap down in 35th.
"Temperature?" asked Matt on lap 55.
"225?" Matt asked.
"10-4," the crew chief acknowledged. "Dale, you're at the transport spot. The next car is seven cars back." After a moment, he asked, "How's the valance?"
"A little better."
Kyle Petty dropped back, allowing Dale to move into 34th.
"30.50," Matt read off the lap time on lap 60.
"One up against the wall," Jason noted. Kyle Petty had scraped the outside retaining wall after he'd just pit. Petty's #45 went to the garage as the race remained under green. Lead lap cars were going around the #44.
"Dale, you're still in the transfer spot. The 10 car is about five cars back," Matt said on lap 64. Jason continued to guide him around the lead lap cars.
"31.25," the crew chief read off the lap time on lap 66. "31.07.
Denny Hamlin pit on lap 69 for four tires and fuel; the #11 team thought they had a wheel out of balance. Hamlin's stop advanced the #44 to 33rd.
"How's the valance, Dale?" Matt asked.
"Yeah, a little better," Dale replied.
Clint Bowyer got lapped on lap 77; Dale was no longer the first driver one lap down and was no longer first in line for the free pass.
"31.16," Matt read off the lap time. "31.35.
"31.38. How's the valance now, Dale?"
"Ah, not too bad," the driver reported.
"10-4." Matt asked if he wanted another air pressure or bite adjustment.
"10-4," Matt replied. "31.35.
Matt said they were pitting in nine laps and were about nine seconds ahead of the leader. "31.77.
Robby Gordon pit, allowing Dale to move into 32nd by lap 97.
"31.77," Matt continued to read off lap times.
"Clear by ten from the 96. Just be aware of guys pitting off Turn 4," Jason warned.
Many cars pit on lap 98, allowing Dale Earnhardt Jr to take over the top spot.
"31.62," Matt read the lap time.
"The 7's coming on new tires about five back. Five back. Three back. Going on the top. Half back. On the outside."
"Pit this lap, Dale, pit this lap," Matt told his driver.
Dale pit after lap 100. His crew chief warned him to watch Kyle Petty's #45 when he made his stop. Brian Vickers led when Earnhardt Jr made his stop. Matt warned Dale that the #15 of Paul Menard was coming when Dale came out of his box.
Vickers pit, completing stops. Gordon was back in the lead by lap 103. Dale was 34th and now marked two laps down.
"30.69," Matt resumed reading off lap times on lap 107. "30.18.
Ryan Newman had issues, moving Dale into 33rd by lap 114.
The yellow flag waved for the third time on lap 116 for debris in Turn 2 from Newman's #12.
"How was the car there, Dale?"
"It wasn't bad, but it wasn't any better than the time before," Dale replied.
"It's the same thing - just a little bit of tightness."
"Mainly on throttle?"
Dale said he was "loose if anything getting into the corner." He said that was true of the run before too.
Matt told his drivers the last two runs looked better, definitely better than the first run. He reminded his driver to pit with lapped cars. "Dale, do you want to stick with those pressures or go back to that second set?"
"Were the times comparable? What did you see there?" When Matt said they were, Dale asked to go with the pressures they had before with a little more bite out. "Plus one right front, minus one right rear."
"Wanna try the bite in the right rear and see what it does?" Matt asked, and Dale agreed.
Jason relayed a request from Joe Nemechek's #13 team to pit a little short to give them room. Matt said okay.
Dale pit with lapped traffic. "Okay, we're two laps down. Anyone else two?" he asked after the stop.
Matt said twelve cars were one lap down. Three others were down by two.
"Hey, tell them we need a man for the windshield," Dale requested.
"10-4," Matt acknowledged. "Dale, cars on our lap will be the 10, the 43, and the 21."
Lap 121 saw the restart. Gordon led, and Dale was two laps down in 33rd.
"The tires felt great on the start, and then they just went away," Dale commented on lap 131. Five laps later, the driver reported, "All right, my front tires are running on the ground when I get in the gas."
On lap 144, Scott Riggs was looking to pass the #44 for position.
"Dale, what do you think about going back down on the pressures, back to where it was on the last run?" Matt asked on lap 147, as Dale continued to ride in front of Riggs.
"Yeah, that's fine." On lap 154, he added, "When I get right behind the car, I really lose the nose."
Meanwhile, on lap 151, Dale Earnhardt Jr took the lead. Sterling Marlin slowed on the track and moved to the inside. His problems allowed Dale to move into 32nd on lap 165.
"Dale, the 8 car is the leader. He's two cars back," Matt warned on lap 169. A bunch of cars were starting to make scheduled stops.
"It's really lost the front," Dale relayed to the team.
On lap 171, Earnhardt Jr gave up the lead to make a stop. Reed Sorenson took over the top spot.
"Dale, we're three and a half laps away," Matt said. He talked about the air pressure and bite adjustments he would make.
"Pit this lap, Dale. Pit this lap," Matt then added. "Guys, one out left rear."
The #44 pit on lap 143.
"Clear out, clear out," Matt said after the stop. "Push him, push him."
Dale was 34th and three laps down when he returned to the track. Earnhardt Jr was back in the lead.
"How's the valance, Dale?" Matt asked on lap 184.
"Pretty loose right now," the driver replied.
Shortly after he was warned that Biffle was coming, Dale said on lap 197, "I just about lost it. Busted my ass off of Turn 2."
Around lap 200, Reed Sorenson went to the garage with an engine failure. Greg Biffle was also reporting that his engine was skipping. Sorenson's departure advanced Dale to 33rd.
"How's the valance now, Dale?" asked Matt on lap 210.
"Still on the loose side."
The fourth caution came on the next lap for debris on the backstretch from David Gilliland's #38.
"Okay, you said the valance is still loose?" Matt asked his driver.
"10-4, loose on the exit," Dale replied.
"Yes, sir, that's correct."
Matt said the lap times looked good at the end, and he wanted to go back halfway on the bite they'd put in the last time.
"Yeah, whatever you think there."
Matt said they'd put a round of bite out of the left rear last time, and he wanted to put half back in.
"Yeah, 10-4." After his stop, Dale added, "My damn foot keeps hitting the frickin' steering column when I'm going to the brake or the gas."
"The 11's asking on the restart if he can go around," Matt said.
"Yeah, no problem."
Lap 217 saw the restart. Earnhardt Jr led while Dale rode 33rd and three laps down.
"I'm not getting into the gas at all," the driver said on lap 224. He was now 34th. On lap 239, he added, "I think it's more than the tires. I don't know what it is exactly."
Juan Pablo Montoya spun Tony Stewart, and Jimmie Johnson got into Stewart, drawing the fifth caution on lap 240.
Matt called four four tires and fuel, half in, and left rear bite. He then said he was going to take half out of the left rear bite. "The change wasn't necessarily a good thing." He called four four tires, fuel, half up right rear bite, and half down left rear bite.
Dale pit with lapped traffic.
Racing resumed on lap 244 with Earnhardt Jr leading. Dale was 33rd.
Six laps into the run, Kurt Busch powered past Earnhardt Jr and into the lead. Tony Stewart pit at the same time.
"I guess there is no happy medium on the outside," Dale said.
The sixth caution was for Tony Stewart, who spun off Turn 4 on lap 253. Behind them, Kyle Busch ran into Dale Earnhardt Jr. Dale reported that he had a right front flat, which was confirmed. Matt said they would top off with one to go as they were ten gallons short. He informed his driver the flat tire was at nine pounds. Jamie McMurray got the free pass.
"Dale, does it feel like it went down all of a sudden?" Matt asked.
Dale said it did within the lap. Matt told him the times still looked pretty decent and was trying to figure out if it was a cut or went down right away. The #44 team found a cut that was about an inch long on the tread.
"Jason, did they call one to go yet?" Matt asked.
Jason said they hadn't.
Matt told Dale to drop to the back and pit to top off the tank. "Do you need a drink or anything?"
"Yeah, I'd like water."
"10-4. We'll get water in there."
"Got the 8 probably coming on the outside here," Jason observed. He then confirmed that Earnhardt Jr was coming.
Kurt Busch led the lap 259 restart. Dale was 32nd. Jason warned his father that the #8 was backing up in the middle of the track.
"How's the valance right now, Dale?" Matt asked on lap 278.
"When I'm back behind these cars, I really lose the nose on it," the driver replied.
Passing Kevin Harvick moved Dale into 31st on lap 284.
The yellow flag waved for the seventh time on lap 293; Dale Earnhardt Jr had dropped debris in Turn 4. The #8 went to the garage, allowing Dale to move into 30th. Meanwhile, Kurt Busch had pit for a scheduled stop, and Jeff Gordon was now in the lead. Busch received the free pass.
"Down on the bottom, I was sliding the front a little bit on the exit," Dale reported. He said moving up to the middle of the race track allowed him to pick up some momentum and he couldn't stand to be any tighter in the centre of the corner. He said he was okay for the first couple laps but got tight after that.
Matt called for four tires, fuel, and half in right rear wedge.
Lap 298 saw the restart. Jeff Gordon led, and Dale was 30th and three laps down. On lap 305, Kevin Harvick passed and dropped the #44 to 31st; however, Dale got around Ken Schrader on lap 311 and regained 30th.
Matt Kenseth took the lead on lap 319. Jeff Burton passed him on the last lap of the race and won.
"Checkered flag here," Jason said.
"31.56," Matt gave the last lap speed. "Dale, what was the valance like at the end."
"Ah, just tight."
Matt asked about the car on the exit of the turns.
"Just didn't have any feel for getting down in the race track."
Dale finished 30th, three laps down.
Michael Waltrip Racing goes to Phoenix next weekend. Coverage of the Nextel Cup's Subway Fresh Fit 500 begins Saturday night at 8:00pm ET on FOX. The Busch Series' Bashas' Supermarkets 200 will air the day before, starting at 9:00pm on ESPN2.