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Dale Jr. Finishes 24th on Tough Day in Martinsville

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 4/7/2013
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Race: STP Gas Booster 500
Track Specs: .526-mile oval / 500 laps
Weather: Clear, 70 degrees
Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 24th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. waged a fierce battle throughout the STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway on his way to a 24th-place finish. Earnhardt Jr. and his No. 88 team remain among the top three in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings after the sixth race of the season, now trailing Sunday’s winner Jimmie Johnson by 12 points.

From the drop of the green flag, Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet SS pounced quickly charging as high as fourth at the 100 lap mark. The remaining 400 laps weren’t as kind to Earnhardt Jr., crew chief Steve Letarte and the crew. A recurring theme of the day saw the No. 88 move up the leaderboard running fast times before fading as runs extended more than 50 laps.

Restarting 10th at lap 180, Earnhardt Jr. checked up to avoid teammate Kasey Kahne, triggering a chain reaction that saw Brian Vickers No. 55 car make contact with the left-rear quarter-panel of the No. 88 Chevrolet. In all, 10 cars, including Earnhardt Jr., were collected in a pair of accidents on lap 180. Letarte called Earnhardt Jr. to pit road for damage repairs.

By the race’s midway point, the No. 88 moved back into the top 10 and ran as high as fifth before dropping to 22nd at lap 362. Reporting his car was “real, real, real tight,” Earnhardt Jr. fell off the lead lap at lap 425. While racing Danica Patrick and Vickers, Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 car was sent spinning after Vickers pushed Patrick’s No. 10 car into Earnhardt Jr., dropping him a second lap off the pace.

Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag 24th.

Next up for Driver 88 is double duty at Texas Motor Speedway. Earnhardt Jr. will race the No. 88 Hellmann’s Chevrolet in Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event at the 1.5-mile speedway and the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night.

Martinsville Race Report
Start 17th
Finish 24th
Laps Completed (Led) 498 of 500 (0)
Standings (from leader) 3rd (-12)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After Bojangles Southern 500
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Jeff Gordon 297 0
2 -- Matt Kenseth 296 -1
3 -- Carl Edwards 278 -19
4 +2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 271 -26
5 +2 Jimmie Johnson 270 -27
6 -1 Kyle Busch 269 -28
7 +1 Brad Keselowski 246 -51
8 -4 Joey Logano 245 -52
9 +2 Ryan Newman 236 -61
10 +2 Austin Dillon # 235 -62
11 +5 Greg Biffle 227 -70
12 +2 Tony Stewart 224 -73
Full Standings