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Junior Races to 12th-Place Finish at Sonoma

By Mike Hoag, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 6/23/2013
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Race: Toyota / Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway
Track Specs: 1.99-mile road course
Weather: Cloudy, 65 deg.
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 12th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 12th Sunday in the Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma, the first of two road-course races on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. The 12th-place finish was one spot off Earnhardt’s career best at the 11-turn road course, although this was perhaps his best performance.

Earnhardt raced inside the top-10 for much of the day, climbing as high as second before making his final pit stop on lap 83 of 110. With varying pit strategies playing out all over the course, Earnhardt took the final restart in 19th and promptly started his charge forward when a near-collision with the spinning car of David Stremme sent Junior on a detour in the turn 7 corner. The evasive action left Junior navigating his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet through grass, but he came out unscathed, only losing two spots on the track. Five laps later Dale Jr. narrowly missed another accident, this one involving Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton in the turn 11 “hairpin” corner.

Earnhardt remains in seventh place in the point standings, tied with Greg Biffle. He is two points out of fifth place and 34 points in front of 11th-place Kasey Kahne.

Martin Truex Jr. won the race in dominating fashion, beating second-place Jeff Gordon by more than eight seconds. Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.

DALE JR. QUOTES
On his 12th-place finish...
“It was pretty good. We really didn’t have a lot of great speed. We just had good strategy on pit road. Just come home with a decent finish. We will take it. This is definitely my worst race track, my least favorite track. We will take whatever, we will take a top-15 here any week.”

Sonoma Race Report
Start 26th
Finish 12th
Laps Completed (Led) 110 of 110 (0)
Standings (from leader) 7th (-94)
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