Late Trouble Lands Dale Jr. 23rd at Sonoma


Dale Jr. appeared destined for a top-15 finish until a late-race crash on a green-white-checkered restart spoiled the day.

Race: Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway
Track Specs: 1.99-mile speedway / 110 Laps
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 83 degrees
Race Winner: Clint Bowyer
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 23rd

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard team finished 23rd at Sonoma on Sunday, completing the first of two road-course events on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule.  Earnhardt was in 13th on a green-white-checkered restart and had nestled into a single-file line after clearing the cars around him, but entering turn 3A he was hit from behind by Jeff Burton.  The contact rooted the No. 88 off the track and into the grass, where it was then tagged hard by the off-roading car of Aric Almirola.

No caution flag was shown as Earnhardt was able to right his car and continue on.  He finished as the last car on the lead lap, continuing the streak of being the only driver to have completed every lap this season.

Clint Bowyer led a race-high 71 laps and held off late threats by Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart to win the Toyota/Save Mart 350.  Stewart, Busch, Brian Vickers and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five finishers.

The finish snapped a four-race streak of consecutive top-10 finishes for the Dew Crew.  Earnhardt Jr. slipped one spot in the Sprint Cup point standings to third.  He now trails point leader Matt Kenseth by 14 points and second-place Greg Biffle by three.

Dale Jr. Quotes
“I don’t know, this is kind of how it goes for us at this place.  Someone ran over us coming out of turn 3, and that’s just how these road courses go sometimes.  Our car was decent today, but we’ve had better cars here. We didn’t have real good speed in the race, but Steve made some adjustments that helped it a good bit.  I was really happy with that, and we were pretty good at the end, just kind of running around and hoping to get out of here with a top-15. But a green-white-checkered finish at the end of a road-course race, man, there are going to be some victims on those deals, and I was one of them today.  We’ll get this one behind us and head to Kentucky next week hoping to get back some of these points we lost today.”

Sonoma Race Report
Start 19th
Finish 23rd
Laps Completed (Led) 112 of 112 (0)
Standings (from leader) 3rd (-15)
Condition Running but heavily damaged