Junior struggles again at Dover

BY foxsports • October 2, 2011

Dale Earnhardt Jr. can't catch a break.

Well, his car parts can.

Earnhardt made it 122 races and counting without a Cup victory when he struggled to a 24th-place finish Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

The Chase driver had a broken sway bar early in the race, and his No. 88 Chevy crew furiously worked on the pits to fix it.

That worked, and Earnhardt even got his lost lap back.

But when a wheel got loose, that did in his day. Earnhardt is a distant 10th in the standings, 34 points behind leaders Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards.

Consider this: The top eight Chase drivers are separated by 15 points. Earnhardt is 15 points behind Jeff Gordon for ninth.

''We are still alive and we will keep racing as hard as we can until that last lap at Homestead,'' Earnhardt said.

Earnhardt believed the No. 88 was a top-10 car and he could at least come close to matching the third-place finish he rolled out in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship opener at Chicagoland. He was 17th last week at New Hampshire.

''We are a good team and we have showcased that several times this year,'' Earnhardt said. ''We weren't as fast as the guys up front, but we were better than we have been here in a long time. I've had some rough runs here lately and haven't got this place figured out yet or what we need.''


STEWART-HAAS: Tony Stewart lost his points lead. Ryan Newman lost any shot at making a dent in the standings.

It was a rough day at Dover for the Stewart-Haas Racing team.

Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet was awful in practice and qualifying and he could never get it going in the race, finishing 25th. He entered the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship leader, and left in third, nine points behind Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards.

Stewart said he struggled with ''the whole package.''

''Even when we got the balance halfway decent, it didn't have speed,'' he said. ''So we just missed it.''

Newman finished 23rd and is mired in 10th in the standings.

''We just didn't have it right all weekend,'' he said. ''We tried a number of adjustments and pit strategies but nothing seemed to work in our favor. We have to put this weekend behind us and move on. We're a much better team than where we finished today.''


PASTRANA OUT: Travis Pastrana is about to say goodbye for good to the X Games.

Pastrana, the 11-time X Games gold medalist, was scheduled to make his Nationwide Series this season until he broke his right ankle and foot in the Best Trick competition in late July in Los Angeles.

Pastrana still uses crutches was expected to have the pins in his ankle removed on Monday.

He said he's committed to running for Michael Waltrip Racing next season and has no plan to return to the extreme event that made him a star. Pastrana was injured attempt a trick called the 720. He fell the first time, tried again and suffered the nasty injuries.

''That was supposed to be my exit from X Games,'' he said Sunday at Dover International Speedway. ''Not exactly the exit I was looking for. But it was still an exit.''

Pastrana made his NASCAR debut on Jan. 29 when he finished sixth in the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway. Pastrana was scheduled to run a total of seven Nationwide Series races this season with his debut July 30 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

He's won 16 gold medals at the X Games, multiple supercross, motocross and rally championships and has become a fan favorite with his motorcycle and automobile jumps. He was the first to do a double backflip on a motorcycle and has won four Rally America championships.

Pastrana said he'll continue to drive motorcycles once he's medically cleared.

''I just will not be on it this year and do not plan on being in it for X Games ever,'' he said. ''But at the same time, motorcycles is something that I always do for training. ... I'm not going to say that I'm not going to never do motorcycle stuff again.''


PETTY'S WIFE: Pattie Petty, wife of former NASCAR driver and TV analyst Kyle Petty, has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

The 60-year-old Petty said she suspected she had the disease in early 2010. He father suffered from Parkinson's. Petty is the tenth person at The University of Kansas Hospital to undergo a breakthrough test to diagnose Parkinson's disease and other tremors.

''I am relieved that my family and I are confident in my diagnosis and can focus on the work we have ahead of us to live with Parkinson's disease,'' she said. ''Kyle and I have already been blessed by the outpouring support to bring Victory Junction Midwest to Greater Kansas City and we feel doubly blessed that we have a strong and dedicated group of professionals at University of Kansas Hospital providing us with the latest medical technology and assisting us with this disease.''

The NASCAR world has long embraced the Petty's Victory Junction Gang Camp, started to honor the memory of their son Adam, who was killed while racing. The camp serves children with chronic medical conditions and serious illnesses, and stands as a virtual monument to the generosity of the NASCAR community, with almost all its members having made sizable contributions.

The Pettys have been married 33 years.

''Pattie's dedication to Victory Junction Midwest is firm,'' said Kyle Petty. ''Staying active is an important part of managing Parkinson's and that will not be hard for my wife. Pattie will not let Parkinson's regulate her life.''

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