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Late Spin Leaves Junior 28th at Watkins Glen

By Mike Davis, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 8/12/2012
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Race: Finger Lakes 355 at Watkins Glen International
Track Specs: 2.45-mile road course / 90 Laps
Weather: Cloudy, 74 degrees
Race Winner: Marcos Ambrose
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 28th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in 10th place with six laps to go at Watkins Glen International on Sunday before a spinout in the big, sweeping turn five relegated him to a 28th-place finish. The finish dropped him to fourth place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings with four races to go before the Chase for the Championship. He is 17 points behind new leader Jimmie Johnson and 27 points in front of fifth place Brad Keselowski.

Employing a two-pit-stop strategy, Earnhardt pitted on laps 27 and 57 and was saving gas to make it to the end. He had raced a majority of the day in the top-10, but the car took several laps to find its speed after restarts. He had slipped to 11th after a restart with 16 laps to go but regained 10th with a pass of Paul Menard. He was on the bumper of Regan Smith when he slipped out of the groove and into the grass in turn five.

Having flat-spotted the tires, Earnhardt drove his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet to pit road for service on lap 85 of 90. He returned to the track to finish 28th.

Marcos Ambrose won the race with final-lap fireworks often seen in video games. Kyle Busch took the white flag and appeared destined for victory, but oil on the race track slicked the surface and caused many drivers to lose control. Keselowski tagged the back end of Busch, moving the leader out of the way. Keselowski and Ambrose then embarked on a collision-packed excursion on the final lap that sent both drivers on-and-off the course in a furious swap of leads. With the oil blanketing the track, neither driver could gain complete control of his car, but Ambrose somehow mustered his Ford to the finish in front of Keselowski’s Dodge. Johnson finished third in front of Clint Bowyer in fourth and Sam Hornish in fifth.

DALE JR. POST-RACE QUOTES
On the lap-84 incident:
“I just got in the corner and made a mistake. That’s pretty much all there was to it – just overdriving the car. My tires were flat-spotted, and when I got back out on the track there was just oil everywhere from somebody. You couldn’t see it, but it was everywhere. There was just nowhere to drive the car. You couldn’t get out of the oil.”

On the last-lap chaos:
“I saw the leaders coming (after making a pit stop) and I was trying to get out of the way. They were in oil, I was in oil, we all were in oil. I watched what happened in front of me. It was just a bad deal. The track shouldn’t have oil on it. Just a tough deal, I guess, trying to let it finish out with all that oil on the track.”

Watkins Glen Race Report
Start 16th
Finish 28th
Laps Completed (Led) 89 of 90 (0)
Standings (from leader) 4th (-17)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After Ford EcoBoost 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 +3 Kevin Harvick 5043 0
2 +1 Ryan Newman 5042 -1
3 -2 Denny Hamlin 5037 -6
4 -2 Joey Logano 5028 -15
5 -- Brad Keselowski 2361 -2682
6 -- Jeff Gordon 2348 -2695
7 -- Matt Kenseth 2334 -2709
8 +2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2301 -2742
9 -- Carl Edwards 2288 -2755
10 -2 Kyle Busch 2285 -2758
11 +2 Jimmie Johnson 2274 -2769
12 +2 Kurt Busch 2263 -2780
Full Standings