Track: Richmond International Raceway
Car No: 8
Organization: Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Dale Jr.'s 2004 season was setting up to be a memorable one, as he recorded his third victory in the first 11 races and maintained the top spot in the NASCAR Nextel Cup point standings. Junior was in second place when the ninth caution flew on lap 343 of 400, and he inherited the lead when the Bud team elected not to pit with most of the other front-runners. Driving on 40-lap-old tires, Earnhardt Jr. not only kept the top spot but ran away with it, stretching his margin over second-place Stewart to more than three seconds by race's end. "It just came down to a gut decision," he said from Victory Lane. "We live by the sword and die by the sword. We stayed out and it ended up being the right thing to do."