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Dale Jr. Shines on All-Star Night in Charlotte

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 5/19/2012
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There are few nights bigger in NASCAR than the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Dale Earnhardt Jr. used one of the sport’s biggest stages to display the strength of his No. 88 team winning the Sprint Showdown and finishing fifth in the night’s main event. Earnhardt Jr. added a victory in the race’s fourth segment to his stellar night in the non-points event featuring recent winners and past champions.

Dale Jr. flexed his muscle from the outset of the Sprint Showdown leading every possible lap in the race’s duel-segment format to place him and his team into the All-Star Race.

Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 The Dale Jr. Foundation/National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet started the night’s feature event 21st, but wasted little time progressing through field. Earnhardt Jr. moved his way to 15th by the end of the race’s first 20-lap segment.

A gutsy pit call by crew chief Steve Letarte left Earnhardt Jr. on the track and catapulted the No. 88 car to sixth at the beginning of the second segment. Despite not taking four fresh tires, Earnhardt Jr. was able to hold off challenges from cars with fresher tires and moved his way to a second-place finish in segment two. Letarte opted for a two-tire pit stop following the second segment giving Earnhardt Jr. a ninth-place starting position for segment three. Earnhardt Jr. was able to maneuver his way through traffic and ended segment three in third-place.

Knowing four tires would be pivotal in competing for the victory in the final ten-lap segment, Letarte called Earnhardt Jr. to pit road for four fires following segment three. Quick work by the No. 88 pit crew gave Earnhardt Jr. a third-place starting position to begin the fourth segment. Earnhardt Jr. made quick work of Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch, and cruised to the victory in the fourth segment.

A newly-adopted rule placed winners of the race’s first three segments ahead of Dale Jr. for a mandatory pit stop between the fourth and fifth segments. He followed teammate Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski to pit road for a stop-and-go.

Earnhardt Jr. started the final ten-lap segment fourth, but was unable to move forward after Kenseth stumbled on the restart, halting the outside line. Earnhardt Jr. slipped to seventh before recovering to finish fifth.

Johnson claimed his third career All-Star Race victory followed by Keselowski, Kenseth, and Kyle Busch.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Quotes
“The race was good. We didn’t really adjust on our car. It was pretty quick all night, all day, all day yesterday. You just need to start on the front row at the end, especially to beat guys as good as that 48 team. I’m proud of our effort tonight. I’m looking forward to next weekend. We’ve got a good car. We might bring this one back.”

All-Star Race Report
Start 21st
Finish 5th
Laps Completed (Led) 90 of 90 (18)
Pitstops Laps 40 (2 tires), 60 and 80 (stop-and-go)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After Camping World RV Sales 301
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Jeff Gordon 670 0
2 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 658 -12
3 +1 Brad Keselowski 634 -36
4 +1 Matt Kenseth 621 -49
5 -2 Jimmie Johnson 598 -72
6 +1 Carl Edwards 574 -96
7 +1 Ryan Newman 573 -97
8 +1 Kyle Busch 567 -103
9 -3 Joey Logano 551 -119
10 +2 Clint Bowyer 548 -122
11 -1 Paul Menard 541 -129
12 +2 Denny Hamlin 530 -140
Full Standings