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Dale Jr. Nabs Another Top 10 at Talladega

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 5/6/2012
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Race: Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway
Track Specs: 2.66-mile tri-oval / 188 laps
Weather: Sunny, 85 degrees
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 9th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued his recent streak of top-10 finishes with a ninth-place effort in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Earnhardt Jr. is now third in the Sprint Cup Series standings trailing leader Greg Biffle by nine points. He leads all drivers with eight top-10s on the season.

Earnhardt Jr. started 18th and bided his time early while managing a loose condition with his No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet until crew chief Steve Letarte made adjustments at the team’s first pit stop on lap 17. After the stop, Earnhardt Jr. found a formidable drafting partner in Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson as they powered through the field utilizing the high line to move into the top two positions at lap 46, with Johnson leading.

Earnhardt Jr. claimed the lead at lap 62 when Johnson retired from the race with an engine problem. The No. 88 Chevrolet held the lead for the next 10 laps before conceding the lead to Matt Kenseth. After claiming a bonus point for leading, Earnhardt Jr. was content to save his car for a final push in the race’s waning laps.

Earnhardt Jr. found himself seventh on the race’s final green-white-checkered restart, but was unable to pair up with anyone in the last two laps and settled for a ninth-place effort.

Brad Keselowski held off Kyle Busch on the final lap to score his second victory of the season follow by Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Biffle.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Quotes
"We just didn't have a great car. It was just between me and Steve (Letarte, crew chief). We can improve quite a bit. We've got all the tools, we just really didn't bring the best package here. Good engine. We have all the tools. It ain't nothing anybody at the shop did. Between me and Steve, we can do a better job.

"I thought the racing was good. It always comes down to a battle at the end. I am sure that was pretty exciting. I didn't really get to see it. We did ok. We have got to work on some things. Do some things a little bit different with the body and the spoiler. Change a couple of things around that will help us."

Talladega Race Report
Start 18th
Finish 9th
Laps Completed (Led) 194 of 194 (10)
Standings (from leader) 3rd (-9)
Pitstops Laps 17, 60 (2 tires), 100 and 144
Condition Running
Standings
After Ford EcoBoost 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 +1 Denny Hamlin 4112 0
2 -1 Joey Logano 4111 -1
3 -- Ryan Newman 4103 -9
4 +4 Kevin Harvick 4102 -10
5 -1 Jeff Gordon 4102 -10
6 -1 Matt Kenseth 4100 -12
7 -- Brad Keselowski 4095 -17
8 -2 Carl Edwards 4088 -24
8 +2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2301 -2742
9 -- Kyle Busch 2280 -1832
10 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2271 -1841
11 +1 AJ Allmendinger 2256 -1856
Full Standings