LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. had one of the most satisfying 13th-place finishes in his NASCAR career Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Gas strategies and a rain-shortened race probably cost the crowd favorite a better finish, but Earnhardt ran well throughout the day, spending most of the 273 laps in the top 10 and running quite a bit in the top five.

“We ran good today,” said Earnhardt, in only his sixth race with crew chief Lance McGrew. “I want to thank Lance and the team. … They did a good, man, giving me a good car. I had fun today. I hope we can keep this up.

“Being around fifth and looking at the top five, that was great,” he added. “Seeing the leaders most of the day in your windshield is better than where we have been.”

Earnhardt moved up one spot in the standings to 19th with nine races remaining until the start of the Chase for the championship, which will include only the top 12 drivers.

“We are inching so slowly up back in to where we need to run,” he said. “It is taking a while but, hopefully, we keep moving forward.”



Rookie Joey Logano saved just enough fuel and was in the right place at the right time to win Sunday’s race. Ryan Newman didn’t and wasn’t.

Newman, leading late in the race, thanks to fuel strategy, ran out of gas just three laps before the rain starting coming down.

“We had a good strategy but, for some reason, we didn’t get the mileage that run there,” said Newman, who drives a Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing. “Coulda, woulda, shoulda. We could have been leading at the end.”

Instead, Newman had trouble restarting his car after coasting down pit road for more gas. That cost him three laps and he was 29th when rain ended the race after 273 of a scheduled 301 laps.

“It was unfortunate,” Newman said. “We had planned on doing two tires and at least get some track position back. It just didn’t work. I told the guys on the radio when it’s not your day, it’s not your day. It didn’t work.”



Martin Truex Jr. and Brian Vickers were both upset with Kyle Busch after being knocked out of the race in an eight-car crash just past halfway.

It appeared Dale Earnhardt Jr. spun his tires on a restart on lap 175 and, when Truex slowed behind him, Busch ran into the rear of the Truex car and ignited the melee.

Busch was able to continue and Truex, stood on the track as he went by and made as if to throw his helmet at the No. 18 car.

“I guess Kyle just decided he didn’t want to lift, so I was just an innocent victim today,” Truex said. “Someone spun the tires and our lane didn’t go. Kyle just lost his head like he usually does when something bad happens.”

Vickers was just as tough on Busch.


“While I was in the care center, I saw the replay and it looked like the 18 was just completely impatient – very normal,” Vickers said. “Just hooked the (No.) 1 (Truex) in the right rear and turned him in front of the field. If you wreck somebody on the straightaway, you kind of should be black-flagged for it. But that’s NASCAR’s call, not my call.”

Vickers added, “I guess everybody just learns to expect Kyle doing something stupid. Stupid is forever.”

Busch took the blame.

“Unfortunately, I have to apologize to all those guys on the restart,” he said. “I got into Martin and I hate it for him and Jeff Burton and those guys. It was just hard racing on a restart.”


Regular play-by-play announcer Bill Weber was replaced in the TNT booth Sunday by Ralph Sheheen.


No explanation was given by TNT, which released a statement saying: “Bill Weber will not be part of TNT’s NASCAR coverage of the Cup Series from New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend. As this is a private issue, it’s the policy of the company not to discuss personal matters involving our employees.”

The statement did not specify if the change was for only this race. The cable network, which broadcasts six Cup races each season, has only the events the next two weeks at Daytona and Chicago remaining in 2009.


Three-time reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson led a race-high 93 laps but wound up ninth, falling out of contention after banging together with eventual third-place finisher Kurt Busch twice on a restart on lap 188. … Logano is the first rookie to win in Cup in 71 races and the first to win at New Hampshire since Newman in 2002. … The winner averaged 97.497 mph in the race slowed by 11 cautions for a total of 47 laps. … The battle for the 12th and final spot in the Chase got even closer with 12th-place Juan Pablo Montoya just three points behind Mark Martin, one point ahead of Kasey Kahne and 12 points in front of David Reutimann.

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