Dale Jr. Takes Points Lead With 4th at Indy


Dale Jr. finished fourth at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to claim the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points lead for the first time since 2004.

Race: Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile speedway / 160 Laps
Weather: Sunny
Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 4th

At one of racing’s most historic venues, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. became the new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point leader with a fourth-place finish in Sunday’s Brickyard 400. It was Earnhardt’s ninth top-five in 2012. It was also his 21st consecutive finish on the lead lap, dating back to the 2011 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. That ties the NASCAR modern-era record held by Jeff Gordon. Earnhardt has completed all 5,648 laps in 2012, a record he holds all to himself.

The fourth-place finish was a Brickyard best for the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet, topping his previous best of sixth in 2006. It also was his first top-five finish at Indy in 13 career starts.

An unusually lukewarm qualifying effort of 20th was an afterthought 50 laps into the race as Earnhardt had broken into the top-five by lap 50. Earnhardt raced calmly and cleanly the rest of the way, staying toward the front and avoiding sporadic altercations on the track. The race featured five cautions, the last coming 28 laps from the end when Joey Logano’s spin cleaned out Matt Kenseth. The misfortune of those two drivers was everyone else’s gain, as it relaxed the fuel-conservation strategies that most had begun, including the No. 88 team.

The green flag waved with 20 laps to go. As he had before, Earnhardt benefitted from starting on the inside line in fifth. It enabled him an easy pass of Denny Hamlin for fourth. That was Junior’s eventual finishing position, as he was unable to surpass Biffle for third.

Jimmie Johnson won his fourth Brickyard 400, leading 99 of 160 laps. Kyle Bush finished 4.7 seconds behind him, followed by Biffle, Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon.

Earnhardt entered the race with a 16-point deficit to Kenseth, but the Roush-Fenway Racing driver’s wreck with Logano relegated him to a 35th-place finish. That swapped Earnhardt and Kenseth in the point standings, and now it is Earnhardt who leads the standings 14 points ahead of Kenseth. This marks the first time in eight years (Sept. 19, 2004) that Earnhardt Jr. has led the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings.

“We just had some good fortune today starting on the inside row on those last few restarts. We had about a fourth- to eighth-place car, but we just seemed to have some good fortune lining up on the inside on those restarts towards the end. The car was fast. I was trying to pass Biffle (for third place), but sitting behind him my car was just aero tight. I couldn’t get any closer than I was.”

On being the points leader:
“When you run in the top-five and top-10 enough, you’ll get some points. That’s what we’ve been doing, and it’s paying off. We’d like to win some more races. I know our fans would like us to win more races, too. We’re working very hard. We’re happy with our result today. I’m happy for Hendrick Motorsports and the 48 shop. Congratulations to Jimmie and Chad and all those guys. Everybody’s got to be real happy with the way Hendrick Motorsports ran today. All the cars seemed to run good. We’d like to win more races though so we’re going to work hard for that.”

Indianapolis Race Report
Start 20th
Finish 4th
Laps Completed (Led) 160 of 160 (0)
Standings (from leader) 1st (+14)
Pit Stops Laps 26, 43 (2 tires), 73, 94 and 127
Condition Running




After Ford EcoBoost 400

Homestead-Miami Speedway | 11/19/2017
1Martin Truex Jr. (P)50400
2Kyle Busch (P)5035-5
3Kevin Harvick (P)5033-7
4Brad Keselowski (P)5030-10
5Chase Elliott2377-2663
6Denny Hamlin2353-2687
7Matt Kenseth2344-2696
8Kyle Larson2320-2720
9Ryan Blaney2305-2735
10Jimmie Johnson2260-2780
21Dale Earnhardt Jr.668-4372