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Untimely Caution Leaves Junior 16th at Kansas

By Mike Hoag, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 4/21/2013
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Race: STP 400 at Kansas Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile tri-oval / 267 laps
Weather: Cloudy; 65 degrees
Race Winner: Matt Kenseth
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 16th

On paper, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 16th-place finish does not constitute the type of day the No. 88 National Guard team had in Sunday’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Starting 23rd, Earnhardt Jr. steadily moved through the pack to race inside the top 10 by lap 80. After cracking the top 10, Earnhardt Jr. maintained his track position and continued his advancement inside the top five.

With fuel mileage becoming a factor in the final 100 laps, Earnhardt Jr. ran third as he hit pit road for his final pit stop at lap 219. While on pit road for two tires and fuel, a caution flew after Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 car lost its rear bumper on the front stretch. Being caught on pit road, Earnhardt Jr. fell a lap down to leader, and eventual race winner, Matt Kenseth. Earnhardt Jr. was forced to take the wave-around under the caution to rejoin the lead lap but restarted 21st for the final stretch.

Earnhardt Jr. was only able to work his way to 16th by race’s end. The finish marks the No. 88 team’s third consecutive finish outside the top 15 after opening the season with five consecutive finishes of seventh or better.

The No. 88 team moved to fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, trailing overall leader by 48 points. Earnhardt Jr. is only 11 points behind second-place Kasey Kahne and 36 points ahead of 11th-place Jamie McMurray.

DALE JR. QUOTES
On final caution while on pit road...
“We were running top five, had good speed, I think we had a good shot at finishing top five. The 17 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) had gotten his car really good, and was probably the strongest car that I saw at the end of the race, the 20 (Matt Kenseth, eventual winner) was good too.”

Positives to take away from the race...
“We have run well in these last three races where we have had poor luck, you can’t do much about that, that’s racing. We will just have to keep working, the cars are fast, and we know we can run well. Also, I’m extremely happy with the engines today, the power in the car was just incredible.”

Kansas Race Report
Start 23rd
Finish 16th
Laps Completed (Led) 267 of 267 (1)
Standings (from leader) 5th (-48)
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