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Dale Jr. Takes 8th at Atlanta

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 9/1/2013
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Race: AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.54-mile-quad oval
Weather: Clear, 73 degrees
Race Winner: Kyle Busch
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 8th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. moved another step closer to qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup with an eighth-place finish in Sunday night’s AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The finish, Earnhardt’s 14th top-10 of the season, gives the No. 88 team a 37-point advantage over 11th-place Jeff Gordon entering the final race before the Chase next weekend in Richmond.

Earnhardt’s radio chatter with Steve Letarte remained upbeat throughout the 325-lap race as both driver and crew chief were pleased with lap times, tire wear and handling conditions. Early in the race, Earnhardt fell to as low as 20th because of a loose wheel, but he steadily climbed his way back inside the top 10 as lengthy green-flag runs suited the No. 88 National Guard / Race2Achieve.org Chevrolet well. Earnhardt climbed to fifth when a caution flew for teammate Jimmie Johnson’s spin and quick work on pit road gave him fourth for a restart with 33 laps to go.

Dale Jr. was unable to capitalize on the prime track position restarting as the second car in the outside lane as Ryan Newman’s No. 39 spun its tires and bogged down the entire lane dropping the No. 88 to 10th. Letarte brought Junior to pit road again under caution at lap 301. The move left Earnhardt 14th for the race’s final restart with 21 laps remaining. He was able to climb six positions to eighth by the checkered flag.

DALE JR. QUOTES
“I was real thankful the car was as good as it was.  We have struggled here and not ran great here the last several trips.  It’s so hard and it’s such a struggle to get a car that has a good balance and we did.  The car had great speed at the end of the race; we just got restarted in the wrong lane a couple of times and lost some spots there.  All in all I’m real pleased with the way the car performed and the job the guys did.”

Atlanta Race Report
Start 8th
Finish 8th
Laps Completed (Led) 325 of 325 (0)
Standings (from leader) 7th (-87)
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