Junior Finishes 18th in New Hampshire Return

Mike Davis | JR Motorsports | 7/16/2017

Dale Jr. NASCAR Nationwide New Hampshire News

Dale Jr. and the Nationwide team took a necessary gamble in the closing laps of the Overton's 301 that didn’t pay off, resulting in an 18th-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Race: Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1-mile superspeedway / 301 laps
Weather: Clear, 82 degrees
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 18th

Returning to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the first time since September of 2015, Dale Earnhardt Jr. took a necessary gamble that didn’t pay off, resulting in an 18th-place finish in the Overton’s 301 NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday.

Having spent the day racing around the perimeter of 10th Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team, in need of a win to make the playoffs, took bold attempts at going off-kilter with the leaders. The swings gave Junior the lead on two separate occasions – the first a seven-lap stint by staying out longer than everyone else.  The second time was opposite – Earnhardt took the final caution flag on lap 261 of 301 in 15th, elected to stay out, and inherited the lead once again for the restart.

“I was hoping a few more would stay out behind us, but they didn’t,” Earnhardt said after the race. “Nobody did.”

When the green dropped on lap 266, Earnhardt could not hold off the onslaught behind him.  Eventual winner Denny Hamlin passed him first, followed by Kyle Larson and Martin Truex.  Earnhardt spiraled to 21st before rebounding three spots for the finish.

“That was like a Hail Mary down 14.” Earnhardt said. “I know we’ve got to try to win, so that’s why we did it. It wasn’t an opportune time to take that risk, but we had to.”

Hamlin, Larson and Truex finished top-3 followed by Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.