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Junior Finishes 4th in Nationwide Event at Texas

By Mike Hoag, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 4/13/2013
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Race: O’Reilly Parts 300
Track Specs: 1.5 mile; Intermediate / 200 Laps
Weather: Night race, clear skies
Race Winner: Kyle Busch
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 4th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. recorded his second top-five finish in only three NASCAR Nationwide Series starts in 2013 Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Earnhardt Jr. raced his No. 88 Hellmann’s Chevrolet to a fourth-place finish, marking his best Nationwide Series finish at the track since his first career victory in 1998.

The O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 presented one common dilemma for drivers and their teams: how to manage their limited number of Goodyear tires. The combination of Steve Letarte and Ryan Pemberton atop the pit box for Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 team strategically planned their use of tires which allowed Earnhardt Jr. to pounce late in the race. Early in the race, Letarte gave his driver fuel only while other leaders, including Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Regan Smith. The move saw the No. 88 plummet through the field. What seemed to be a dismal call played itself out late in the race when Earnhardt Jr. was the beneficiary of four fresh tires, while others were not as fortunate.

Earnhardt Jr. took the green flag fourth for the final 29-lap dash to the finish. After slipping to sixth, Earnhardt Jr. reclaimed the fourth position in the final laps.

The next scheduled Nationwide Series start for Earnhardt Jr. is the Sept. 14 event at Chicagoland Speedway.

DALE JR. QUOTES
About JR Motorsports...

“We had some really good runs, and some good speed, we’re getting better. We just need a little bit more as a company. Ryan (Pemberton) did a good job all weekend, dialing the car in where it is tonight. Steve called a good race, we had an extra set of tires there at the end but the cautions weren’t falling as we needed to. We are happy as a company, we need a little bit more speed to catch up with these guys, but we are getting there.”

On all three JRM cars finishing top ten...
“We tried to take advantage of an extra tire set at the end, but the cautions didn’t go our way. The Hellmann’s Chevrolet was real fast, and we’re very happy with the speed we had compared to the rest of the field.”

Texas Race Report
Start 11th
Finish 4th
Laps Completed (Led) 200 of 200 (0)
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