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Earnhardt Moves Up All Night, Finishes 6th at Charlotte

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 5/27/2012
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Race: Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile quad-oval / 400 laps
Weather (Start): Partly Cloudy, 83 degrees
Weather (Finish): Partly Cloudy, 73 degrees
Race Winner: Kasey Kahne
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 6th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended NASCAR’s longest night with a sixth-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The finish marks Earnhardt Jr.’s series-leading ninth top-10 finish of the season. Earnhardt Jr. finds himself fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, trailing leader Greg Biffle by only 18 points.

After starting 12th, Dale Jr. and crew chief Steve Letarte spent the race’s first 200 laps adjusting the No. 88 National Guard ‘An American Salute’/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet for a hot, slick race track. Earnhardt Jr. fell as far back as 17th in the first 100 laps before the car’s setup began taking effect as the sun set over the 1.5-mile track. When the lights came on, so did the No. 88 Chevrolet. Earnhardt Jr. entered the top 10 shortly after the halfway point and never dropped outside the top 10 for the remainder of the race.

Dale Jr. moved to seventh at the final caution for debris on lap 319. Letarte elected to keep the Earnhardt Jr. on the race track, while many other leaders pitted, catapulting the No. 88 car to second. Earnhardt Jr. was able to hold on to a sixth-place finish.

Earnhardt Jr.’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne scored his first win since joining the organization this season by pulling away from Denny Hamlin on the race’s final stint. Kyle Busch, Biffle and Brad Keselowski made up the top five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Quotes
“We made some good adjustments and got the car to run pretty competitive at the end. We had real good speed when it counted in the end. Not as much as that five (Kasey Kahne, race winner) obviously, but we showed it when we stayed out there with them boys and run in the top three there. We had good speed. The car was running about like it did last week (in the Sprint All-Star Race). So, we could have done a couple of things different I think; but you don’t know if that will work or not.”

Charlotte Race Report
Start 12th
Finish 6th
Laps Completed (Led) 400 of 400 (0)
Standings (from leader) 4th (-18)
Pitstops Laps 44, 88, 113, 135 (2 tires), 171, 218, 263, 304 and 354
Condition Running

 

Standings
After MyAFibStorycom 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Brad Keselowski 2059 0
2 -- Jeff Gordon 2052 -7
3 +2 Joey Logano 2049 -10
4 +2 Kevin Harvick 2047 -12
5 -2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2042 -17
6 -2 Jimmie Johnson 2041 -18
7 +1 Kyle Busch 2041 -18
8 +1 Denny Hamlin 2041 -18
9 +1 Kurt Busch 2039 -20
10 +1 Kasey Kahne 2034 -25
11 +3 Matt Kenseth 2034 -25
12 -5 Carl Edwards 2030 -29
Full Standings