Handling problems lead Earnhardt to a 17th at
Dale Earnhardt battled handling problems all day during
Sunday's NAPA 500 at California. Sunday's weather was warmer than it had been during
practice, causing many cars to be loose, including Earnhardt's. Dale, who started 35th,
lingered at the back of the field for most of the first half of the race because his car
was so loose in the turns. The team made many adjustments during pit stops to try and help
the car. Halfway into the race (around lap 125) Dale was up to 20th position. He would
later get as high as 13th. Unfortunately, in the race's closing laps following final pit
stops, he fell back from 14th to 17th position.
Dale lost one spot in the points, dropping from 4th to 5th, and is now 132 back from
points leader Bobby Labonte.
By Tom Reilly
Kind of a disappointing weekend. That's the
worst car I've seen them put under Dale in quite a while. Unless that baby races good at
some other track, it's ready for the chop shop.
I thought the race was a bit more competitive this year.
There were maybe 10 cars with a legitimate shot at winning. Unfortunately, we were never
one of them.
I saw Dale practice, requalify and in Happy Hour on Saturday.
He requalified at almost the exact same speed I timed him at in the morning practice.
That's all she wrote with that car gang. It was just too loose and too damn slow up off
I heard an interesting exchange between Dale and his spotter
just before Happy Hour. Dale said "We're gonna need some help tomorrow morning. Those
guys are all down in Tiajuana. They think Saturday is a vacation day when we come out
here." I'm not sure who he meant. If it was the pit crew, might explain their
I don't know what ESPN showed of Happy Hour, but Dale was
loose off the whole time. They tried several sway bar adjustments but never hit on
anything. With less than five minutes to go, the 28 got behind Dale and the back end broke
loose and Dale had to chase it up the track in turn 2. As Happy Hour ended, Dale was
telling Kevin "Almost parked it that time."
The car was really junk at the start of the race. Dale was
loose off and chased it up the track several times in Turn 2. At the first pit stop, they
tried a spring rubber in the rt. rear, but it made the car worse. Dale was just hanging on
for that run.
Major adjustments in the next two pit stops. Dale came out in
the back both times. He was so far back that he topped off for fuel both times. Nothing to
Dale had a pretty good run near the middle of the race and
got up to about 17. A caution came out at lap 150 and the pit crew blew it. Dale dropped
to the mid 20's. Lost all the track position he had struggled for. Dale asked Kevin
"What happened back there." Kevin said that all 5 lug nuts fell off one of the
tires. Tiajuana? These guys have been pretty good this year, but the pit stops today
Dale continued to report that the car was loose off for the
remainder of the race. After about 15 laps of a run, you could see him move to higher
line. He couldn't run on the white line and was losing about .5 seconds per lap to the
leaders. He was about 4 seconds from losing a lap to Kenseth at one point.
Dale was pretty calm, but obviously disappointed in the car.
He got on Richard at one point for doubling on the radio with Kevin. He wasn't happy with
the spotter (Cavelli?) and asked Danny to step in about 3/4s of the way through the race.
(What's going on with that? Danny was the spotter in Vegas. Had he changed since then?)
Dale was pretty upset when the last caution came out. You
could see him slow down as he passed start finish, and Elliot and Hamilton roared by. Dale
said "I took the caution. They can't pass me, I took the caution." Kevin argued
with Dale and said when it's "yellow with the white you have to race back to start
finish." I see on NOL that Dale was right; he is posted at 17, ahead of Elliot and
Hey gang. This was not a good day. But let me tell you, it
could have been a whole lot worse. The car was junk. Dale got everything there was to get
out of it. I've never seen him race any harder and it was a handful all day long. A lesser
driver would have had it in the wall or finished 3 laps down. Dale did one hell of a job,
and that's what I will remember about this one.
By gmgoodwrenchserviceplus (Tom)
well, dale only said that he couldn't drive this car 4 times. They adjusted the heck out
of it spring rubbers in the front and rear, wedge, and finally unhooking the rear bar.
there were some disagreements on some of the calls for adjustments, but nothing to get
excited about. However, Dale got pissed at Kevin and Richard at the end of the race. The
very last caution flag came out before dale crossed the line for the last lap, he sort of
slowed down and called in that he had taken the caution, Kevin and Richard told him to
race back to the line, by that time two cars passed him and put him back to 19th. Dale
told Kevin that when you have taken the yellow you cannot lose a position on the last lap.
Kevin disagreed but said he would check it out, Dale told Richard to go to. Looks like it
worked because on NASCAR online they have him finishing in 17th. Wish he had a better day,
he was in good spirits when he first came on the radio. I'll give another report from
Phoenix later in the year. We will be good in Richmond!!
A Pirate Looks at... 49_4/29
Dale Earnhardt believes in the adage that age and
treachery will beat youth and enthusiasm just about every time. Full Story.
Earnhardt will start 35th on Sunday_4/29
Earnhardt's black No. 3 failed inspection for the
second race in a row on Friday morning when NASCAR officials disapproved of the rear
quarter panels and rear end of the GM Goodwrench Chevrolet during inspection at
California. Later that afternoon Earnhardt got loose a few times during his first-round
qualifying lap and wound up just 36th fastest. On Saturday during second-round qualifying,
Earnhardt requalfied but was only able to improve by one position, and will start Sunday's
NAPA 500 from 35th.
This is only the 3rd time in the ten races this season that Dale has qualified outside the
top 25. Last year at this point he had already qualified outside the top 25 six times.