The last time Bill Elliott drove into a Winston Cup victory lane, it was behind the wheel of a Budweiser-sponsored car in September of 1994 - Dale Earnhardt Jr will be hoping that he does not have to go 227 races until his next win.

Since his last success, Elliott had started 227 races without a win, but he returned to the winner's circle with flair at Homestead-Miami Speedway, passing his young team-mate Casey Atwood with five laps remaining to win the Pennzoil 400. For the current incumbent of the Bud car, however, 15th was the best place on offer after early handling problems. It was the second consecutive week that Junior had finished 15th, but the DEI team took some consolation in Michael Waltrip's second place finish - co-incidentally the same result as team-mate Kenny Wallace achieved last weekend.

Starting 17th, Earnhardt did not exhibit his usual mad dash towards the front of the pack, remaining in the top 20 for the first 25 laps until the handling on the Bud car became so evil that he had to make an unscheduled pit-stop so the crew could replace four tyres and make chassis adjustments.

The stop dropped the team to last place, one lap behind the entire field, meaning that the remaining 238 laps would represent a game of 'catch-up' for the 'Bud bunch'. They made their lap back during a yellow-flag period on lap 82 and, from there, climbed from 26th place into the top 15, where they stayed for the final 50 laps.

"We never found the right set-up on our car," Junior admitted, "It was like the front end of the car wouldn't hook-up at all. Even when we got the car going into the corners better, it would slide and plough through the middle of the corner and I couldn't get on the gas soon enough to get past many cars. We had to stop early because I just couldn't hang on. It got so bad it was like I had a flat tyre.

"I know a lot of teams were just taking two [tyres] to get track position, and I suppose we should have done that. But, when you can't get the car to turn, we felt like we were better off to take four each time. I just didn't think we could keep up with just two new tyres."

Despite his own misfortune, which saw him stay in seventh position in the points with two races remaining, Earnhardt Jr was obviously pleased for team-mate Waltrip, who achieved his best placing since the Daytona 500.

"Good for Michael!" he enthused, "That team has struggled but, after a few personnel changes, they've really been good lately. During one of the yellow flags, I was right behind Michael and I wished I could have talked with him on the radio. I could tell he was really running good, and I'll bet he was having fun and must have been in a really good mood."

Earnhardt also had an anxious moment following the pit-lane incident which left two members of the #28 crew injured. With brother-in-law Ray Holm a part of the team, Junior was understandably concerned to know whether he had been involved. The Bud team quickly re-assured him that there was nothing to worry about.