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Junior Survives Wild Night at Daytona in 8th

By Mike Hoag, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 7/7/2013
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Race: Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile superspeedway
Weather: Clear, 85 degrees
Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 8th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought home an eighth-place finish Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway. The top-10 finish propelled Earnhardt Jr. back into the top-five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings with a 55-point advantage over 11th-place Martin Truex Jr.

Earnhardt Jr. raced his way through the pack on several occasions, finding himself as high as third at one stage. The constant battle for Earnhardt Jr. was to place his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet in the correct line as there was no clear-cut fast line either high or low.

As the laps wound down, Earnhardt Jr. steadily climbed towards the top 10 after dropping outside the top 20. An accident involving Denny Hamlin, among others, was triggered directly behind Earnhardt Jr. in the late going. When the caution flew for the final time due to contact between Kasey Kahne and Marcos Ambrose, Earnhardt Jr. positioned himself ninth for the final restart.

Once racing resumed for a green-white-checkered dash to the finish, Earnhardt Jr. wedged himself in the middle of three-wide battles down the stretch with a pair of crashes behind him on the final lap. In the end, Earnhardt Jr. crossed the line eighth for his second top-10 finishes in as many starts at Daytona this season.

Earnhardt Jr.’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate dominated the night leading 94 of the race’s 161 laps en route to the first Daytona sweep since 1982. Johnson beat Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Michael Waltrip to the finish.

DALE JR. QUOTES
“Jimmie (Johnson) had great track position all night. We just didn’t really make our way to the front at all. I had fun; (it was a) pretty wild race there at the end. I’m happy for HMS to get a win. It was a good day. I’m happy for the National Guard and the entire team. (We are) just trying to get back on track and get some consistency going into next week.”

Daytona Race Report
Start 16th
Finish 8th
Laps Completed (Led) 161 of 161 (0)
Standings (from leader) 5th (-110)
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