Junior Collected In Pair of Late-Race Accidents at Richmond

Tyler Overstreet | JR Motorsports | 4/30/2017

Dale Jr. NASCAR Nationwide News Richmond

Dale Jr. was involved in two accidents in the final 75 laps at Richmond International Raceway, leaving him with a 30th-place finish.

Race: Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway
Track Specs: .75-mile D-shaped oval / 400 laps
Weather: Sunny, 86 degrees
Race Winner: Joey Logano
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 30th

Dale Earnhardt was poised for a top-15 finish when contact with another car sent his No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet into the wall and left him with a 30th-place finish at Richmond International Raceway.

The No. 88 team started Sunday’s 400-lap race very impressive as Earnhardt climbed three positions in the opening five laps, then pitted and dropped to 24th under the race’s first caution and rallied his way back to eighth by the next yellow flag. While Earnhardt and all of the other leaders pitted under the caution, NASCAR deemed the No. 88 to be too fast on pit road. The penalty dropped Earnhardt to 27th for the ensuing restart. By the end of the opening 100-lap stage, Earnhardt was scored 21st.

The middle 200 laps of the race presented Earnhardt and his team the biggest challenge of the afternoon with a car that was too loose on corner entry, but would not turn in the center of the corners. The handling issue saw Earnhardt’s running position fluctuate between 18th and 23rd for much of stage two and the opening 100 laps of the final stage.

Crew chief Greg Ives and company continued to make adjustments each time Earnhardt visited pit road. During a pit stop at lap 252, Ives hit on something that improved the issues Earnhardt was facing. Those changes allowed Earnhardt to move up several spots to 17th and eventually to the top three once a series of green-flag stops began. Earnhardt and Ryan Newman were attempting to stay on track while all of the other leaders pitted in hopes of catching a caution flag to improve their track position.

The caution flag eventually waved at lap 343, but unfortunately, it was contact from Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 car sending Earnhardt’s No. 88 into the turn two wall. While on pit road to allow his team to make repairs to his car, Earnhardt lost a lap to the leaders. Ives radioed Earnhardt that the right-front sway-bar arm mount had broken, but the team was able to continue the race.

Shortly after the ensuing restart, a fender rub cut Earnhardt’s left-rear tire, sending the No. 88 car spinning in turns three and four. With no contact, Earnhardt was able to continue and finish the race. Ultimately, though, he would take the checkered flag 30th.

Joey Logano won the race over Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kevin Harvick.