|Dale Jr. winless streak reaches 100 races|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 09 April 2011 17:34|
A week after a runner-up finish at Martinsville, where he led until being passed by Kevin Harvick with four laps to go, Earnhardt had another strong run. But he finished ninth at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Earnhardt last won in June 2008 at Michigan, his only win so far in 115 starts for Rick Hendrick. That win in his first season with Hendrick ended a 76-race winless streak.
Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson has won three consecutive Sprint Cup season championships since Earnhardt's last victory.
Still, there are several much longer winless streaks for drivers who also ran Saturday night.
Bobby Labonte has started 259 races since his last victory in 2003, while Robby Gordon has made 255 starts since also winning that year. Dave Blaney has never won in 369 races since his 1992 Cup debut.
NO TRIFECTAS: Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin both came up short in their pursuit of three in a row.
Hamlin, who swept both races at Texas last year, finished 15th and missed the chance to become the first driver to win three consecutive Sprint Cup races at the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked track.
Harvick, coming off consecutive wins this season at Martinsville and California, finished 20th. He led only six laps in Martinsville and took the lead from Jimmie Johnson on the final turn for his only lead at California to win there.
On the first stop of the night at Texas, Harvick got penalized because of a right-side tire violation in the pit. He had started 29th and never challenged for the lead.
Hamlin was heard complaining about power problems in his car early in the race, and was getting loose after the second pit stop. He eventually peaked at sixth about 122 laps into the 334-lap race before sliding back.
ANOTHER HARD HIT: Martin Truex Jr. had another hard-hitting finish.
Truex was hit from behind by Kevin Harvick going onto the backstretch on lap 215 after he checked up because he said Brad Keselowski slowed in front of him. It appeared that Truex's Toyota got loose just before Harvick bumped him from behind.
A week earlier at Martinsville, the throttle in Truex's car got stuck and his car veered directly into the outside wall, collecting Kasey Kahne on the way. The impact destroyed the car, but Truex said he wasn't hurt at all.
``I'm fine,'' Truex said after his latest ending. ``We were struggling a little bit tonight, but we were running our butts off. It's unfortunate and it sucks to have this happen two weeks in a row. We were going to battle to a decent finish, we sure didn't need to be wrecked. I got hit from behind. It's just an unfortunate racing situation.''
The accident also collected Mark Martin and Regan Smith.
OUT OF THIS WORLD: Space shuttle pilot Doug Hurley will take a piece of Texas Motor Speedway into space.
Hurley was presented a TMS flag Saturday, which he plans to carry with him on the final space shuttle mission this summer. Shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to close out the 30-year shuttle program.
A season-ticket holder at Texas Motor Speedway since 2005, Hurley said he planned to bring the flag back to the track when he comes back for the November Sprint Cup race.
Hurley introduced the top 10 drivers to the crowd Saturday night before the Samsung Mobile 500, the second time he has taken part in prerace activities.
In November 2009, four months after guiding Shuttle Endeavour in space, Hurley drove a pace car at Texas that he drove off a Chinook helicopter that landed on the infield.
DOWNWIND CARL: When Carl Edwards isn't driving on the race track, he can often be found flying one of his planes.
In the small Texas town of Dimmit, Edwards earned quite a nickname not long after getting his pilots' license and landing his single-engine plane for fuel.
``I landed downwind. I am landing at 60-80 mph plus 20 mph wind and I am screaming down this runway trying to stop,'' he said. ``I get to the end and there is a guy ready to take off the correct direction. I can see him look at me like, 'You idiot.' ... He is looking at me like, 'Now what are you going to do moron? You have to turn around because I can't back up.' So I turn around and taxi back.''
The other plane took off and Edwards went to get fuel when he was recognized by someone who went, ``You are NASCAR driver Carl Edwards!'' But they hadn't seen his landing, so Edwards figured he was in the clear.
About a year later, Edwards was doing an autograph session at Texas Motor Speedway when he heard somebody yell from the crowd, ``Hey, downwind!''
It was the pilot who was in the crop duster at the end of the runway when Edwards landed.
``You are terrible pilot,'' Edwards said, relaying what the other pilot said. ``I am sure in the crop duster community around here they laugh at me as a pilot.''
SPARK PLUGS: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin are the only drivers who have started all 21 Sprint Cup races at Texas Motor Speedway. ... The estimated attendance for the first Sprint Cup night race at Texas was 168,400. ... Track season-ticket holders were treated to a prerace garage party that featured a '70s tribute band, pig races and women's roller derby.