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Junior Battles For Top 10 At Richmond

By Mike Hoag, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 4/28/2013
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Race: Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway
Track Specs: .75-mile D-shaped oval / 400 laps
Weather: Partly Cloudy; 55 degrees
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 10th

Dale Earnhardt Jr., crew chief Steve Letarte and the entire No. 88 National Guard showcased their mettle once again Saturday night at Richmond International on their way to a 10th-place finish. Sure, Junior has six top-10 finishes on the season, but this finish will mean more to the team in its effort to qualify for a third consecutive Chase for the Sprint Cup because of the seemingly uphill battle they fought all night long.

Earnhardt Jr. started 19th and quickly found his Chevrolet to be extremely tight as he attempted to work his way towards the front. Change after change did little to improve the No. 88 car’s handling as Earnhardt Jr. spent the race’s opening 300 laps mired between 15th and 20th.

In the race’s final 100 laps, Earnhardt Jr. capitalized on major adjustments from Letarte and dodged several multi-car accidents to climb into the top 12 when the final caution flag flew with five laps remaining. Earnhardt Jr. hit pit road for four fresh tires and was positioned 13th for the two-lap scramble to the finish. Earnhardt Jr. maneuvered his way to 10th at the checkered flag.

The top-10 finish ends a three race string of bad luck that saw the No. 88 team finish 24th at Martinsville, 29th at Texas and 16th last week at Kansas. Earnhardt Jr. now ranks fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings trailing overall leader Jimmie Johnson by 46 points after the season’s ninth race.

Richmond Race Report
Start 19th
Finish 10th
Laps Completed (Led) 400 of 400 (0)
Standings (from leader) 4th (-46)
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