News & Media

Notes: Earnhardt not sad to see Infineon behind him

June 26, 2011, The Associated Press,

SONOMA, Calif. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is no fan of Infineon Raceway, and that didn't change Sunday after an early wreck ultimately ended his race.

Earnhardt was collateral damage in a seven-car accident triggered when Tony Stewart moved Brian Vickers out of his way at the entrance to Turn 11. The damage included a hole in Earnhardt's radiator, and his engine eventually blew, leading to just his second DNF since 2009.

"That's the way the race has been here for a while, and you know what you sign up for when you show up on Friday."


"I'm not a big fan of the place, but maybe one of these days," Earnhardt said, noting the physical nature "is just the way the road courses are. That's the way the race has been here for a while, and you know what you sign up for when you show up on Friday."

Next up is Daytona, where Earnhardt could snap his three-year losing streak. But he surprisingly wasn't looking forward to that race because of the changes in the drafting style. Long a fan of pack racing, Earnhardt doesn't enjoy the two-car tandems -- even though he pushed teammate Jimmie Johnson to a victory at Talladega in April.

"I'm not looking forward to going to Daytona, not with the way the drafting is there," he said. "But we'll just have to see if we can get lucky out there. What's after Daytona? I'll be glad to go there."

Max still mad about Villeneuve's move

Max Papis is still steaming over a late-race move by Jacques Villeneuve that took away Papis' chance to win the Nationwide Series race on Saturday at Road America.

Papis traveled to Sonoma after his 23rd-place finish to help coach Joey Logano during the Sprint Cup race. After, he admitted to still being annoyed with Villeneuve, a former Formula One world champion whom Papis has known for more than 20 years.

"You need to come into the sport with more humbleness," Papis said. "For me, what he showed was zero respect toward my five years of trying to make it happen. That's what people think, they can come into NASCAR and kick everyone's [butt], and that's not the case. To me, it was a big disappointment because of that attitude."

Papis was, however, extremely proud of Logano's sixth-place finish. He's been working with Logano over the past month, and tested with him two weeks ago at Road Atlanta. On Sunday, he was on the team radio helping guide Logano.

"I told him he knows what he has to do. My job was just to give him extra motivation, guiding him, making sure that he was not greedy," Papis said. "I told him when I went testing, 'You have the ability to do it, you need to know when to use all your stuff or not.' I think what I've been able to coach him and guide him is more up in the brain and just making sure that he really believes in himself.

"I was really proud to see that he never give up."

Papis would take no credit for Logano's career-best run, but Logano gave it to him.

"Max is the man," Logano said. "Everything he does, he just makes total sense. He's just done this for so long he knows exactly what to do out there. Him being another driver, you can really relate to what he is saying. I thought it was great."

Truex finds turnaround after early spin

Martin Truex Jr. thought he was experiencing deja vu when he was spun in Turn 11 for the second consecutive year. But he bounced back to finish eighth -- his second top-10 finish in the last three races.

"We had a great car. It was fast. Just got spun out once," Truex said. "Still a good day for us. We had a fast car. Everything held up."

Truex actually worked his way into the top four and thought he had a shot at beating Busch. But he ran down his tires at the end, and dropped four spots over the final few laps.

"We thought for a while there we were going to have a shot for the win, I just ran the tires off it," he said. "I wanted to win. I thought we had something for Kurt."