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Dale Jr. Moves To Third In Standings After Talladega

By Mike Hoag, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 5/5/2013
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Race: Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway
Track Specs: 2.66-mile tri-oval
Weather: Partly Cloudy; 64 degrees
Race Winner: David Ragan
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 17th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. moved to third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings after a 17th-place run at Talladega Superspeedway.

Earnhardt Jr.’s race got off to a rocky start early after contact with Travis Kvapil’s No. 93 car. The contact forced Earnhardt Jr. to bring the National Guard Chevrolet to pit road because of a flat left rear tire and damage to the left-rear quarter-panel. Immediately following the incident, a caution was thrown for Trevor Bayne’s blown engine, allowing crew chief Steve Letarte and the No. 88 team to make necessary repairs under the yellow period. Earnhardt Jr. earned the free pass after a multi-car accident involving 13 cars.

The No. 88 Chevrolet ran as high as third just before the race’s halfway point before being shuffled to ninth when a caution flew because of rain at the track. Following a three hour and 36 minute delay, Earnhardt Jr. went to work inside the top 10 with less 60 laps remaining.

In the late laps, Earnhardt Jr. narrowly avoided Kurt Busch’s tumbling No. 78 Chevrolet in the second multi-car pileup on the day.

With darkness falling over the 2.66-mile speedway, NASCAR issued one attempt at a green-white-checkered finish with Earnhardt Jr. restarting seventh. The final two-lap dash to the finish was unkind to Earnhardt Jr. as he found himself trapped three-wide in the pack. The No. 88 Chevrolet crossed the finish line 17th on a day that saw many championship contenders involved in accidents.

Earnhardt Jr. stands third in the series’ standings, trailing overall leader Jimmie Johnson by 59 points and second-place Carl Edwards by 18 points. He is 45 points ahead of 11th place Matt Kenseth.

DALE JR. QUOTES
On the green-white-checkered finish...
“Everybody was going forward and I was going backward. I was caught three wide and everyone was going around on the outside. I had nowhere to go.”

On the race...
“We really didn’t have a car that I felt comfortable with, and we didn’t seem to have a good car all day. I guess it was alright I guess.”

On the damage to the car...
“I don’t think the damage to our car affected the race at all. A couple guys in front of us had worse damage than us, and they seemed to finish better than we did.”

Talladega Race Report
Start 12th
Finish 17th
Laps Completed (Led) 188 of 188 (0)
Standings (from leader) 3rd (-59)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After Oral-B USA 500
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Jeff Gordon 872 0
2 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 851 -21
3 +2 Matt Kenseth 794 -78
4 -- Joey Logano 791 -81
5 -2 Brad Keselowski 782 -90
6 -- Jimmie Johnson 766 -106
7 +1 Carl Edwards 755 -117
8 -1 Kevin Harvick 748 -124
9 -- Ryan Newman 747 -125
10 +1 Greg Biffle 728 -144
11 +2 Kasey Kahne 708 -164
12 -2 Clint Bowyer 705 -167
Full Standings