Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bungee Cord helps Dale Jr get a Solid Top 10 finish.

Trouble didn’t take long to find Dale Jr earlier today at Martinsville Speedway. He was reminded of it constantly, when he shifted gears. From Lap 43 on in the 500 lap Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500, Earnhardt's shifter was held together by a bungee cord.

When it first popped out of gear, he feel all the way back to 38th. It appeared to be a long day for the Jr Nation. Instead, Dale Jr maintained his composure and told his team “I can deal with it. Let’s just work on getting some of this track position back and I’ll take care of everything else.”

Dale Jr battled all the way back until he was running third at one point before settling for an 8th place finish in the race won by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jimmie Johnson.

This isn’t the first time this season Dale Jr’s day was hinged by the threads of a bungee cord.

He still remains a long way from where he wants to be this season, but he did climb in the pint standings. At the start of the day, he was 19th. At the end, he was 16th.

Dale Jr told the media that he was proud of the way his No. 88 team worked hard on pit road. Since qualifying was rained out on Friday, Dale Jr didn’t have a great pit stop which made getting off pit road in a timely fashion a difficult task.

Dale Jr also said to the media that seeing Johnson win his first race of the season was encouraging. "I am happy for Rick [Hendrick] that they got a win. I'm especially happy for the company. I am glad to be a part of it," Earnhardt said. "This is excellent equipment. We've just got to know what to do with it.

"We've got to get a little bit better as a team to compete. The stuff is right there in front of us, man; we just gotta figure out what to do to make it work."

That includes figuring out what went wrong with his shifter so early in Sunday's race. He would like to avoid another date with a bungee cord in future events.

"I was pretty upset because we've had it happen a lot this year, and we haven't found what the problem is," Earnhardt said. "Hopefully, we can find what the problem is, because we damn sure don't need that happenin'. Poppin' out of gear as you go into the corner is not a lot of fun."


Tara said...

I love your race recaps.

Regardless of the media/fan drama, I have been very proud of HMS & the 88 team/crew. They had a big hole to climb out of after Daytona but have made a steady climb in the correct direction ever since then.