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Dale Jr. Comes Home 2nd at Talladega

By Mike Hoag, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 10/20/2013

Race: Camping World RV Sales 500
Track Specs: 2.66-mile superspeedway
Weather: Sunny, 65 degrees
Race Winner: Jamie McMurray
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 2nd
Dale Jr.'s Chase Standing: 6th (-52)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. led 38 laps on his way to a second-place finish in Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Earnhardt’s fourth runner-up result of the season vaults the No. 88 Mountain Dew / Xbox One Chevrolet to sixth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings.

Earnhardt started eighth after the field was set based on Friday’s practice speeds because of persistent rainfall Saturday morning. From outset, Earnhardt charged forward, assuming the lead for the first time at lap 48. Earnhardt’s 38 laps led ranked second to teammate and Sprint Cup Series points’ leader Jimmie Johnson who led 47 on the day.

As the laps clicked away, Earnhardt positioned himself second behind Jamie McMurray waiting patiently to make his move as late as possible. When the white flag flew, Earnhardt followed McMurray through turns one and two, waiting to make a move on the backstretch. Unfortunately for Earnhardt, third-place runner Austin Dillon lost control of his No. 14 Chevrolet, sending him sideways and bringing out the final caution after contact from another car sent Dillon’s car airborne. The field was immediately frozen and McMurray cruised to the victory.

Earnhardt now ranks sixth in the Chase standings trailing Johnson by 52 points. The No. 88 team has led each of the six Chase races thus far, and nine of the past 12 races overall.

“We had such a good car. You know, since I've been working with Steve, we just haven't really had a good combination here, and maybe I've torn up some really good cars and just never got to see how good they were in races in the past. I knew in practice the car was strong, and just wondered if everybody was showing everything they had. Once you get the whole field out there it's a little bit different, but our car was a rocket and we were able to be aggressive, and I just tried to lead every lap of the race.

“I felt like what I've seen be successful with this package and this car this year, if you've up front all the time, you tend to be there at the end when it counts, and we were. We got shuffled out there on that last run when we come out of the pits. I thought we pitted a little bit early, gave up a lot of time. My crew chief Steve didn't really agree with that, but I just felt like if we could stay out on the racetrack we had a better shot at coming out in front of them guys. We ended up coming out behind a bunch of people and worked our way up toward the front there on the outside.

“It's all kind of a blur as to how we ended up in second, but I had no reason to make a move before the last lap being in second place. I was in perfect position to be patient and wait as long as I wanted to. So that's why we didn't go any sooner than that. I just can't anticipate a caution coming out every single time we run at Talladega race on the last lap, so I just assumed it would go to checkered and was planning my move on the back straightaway.

“We sort of let the 1 car get out there a little bit going down the front straightaway into Turn 1 and we mashed the gas in the middle of the corner and got a run with the 14, and I was moving around just a little bit to see where the 1 thought I might be going, because I gotta sort of fake him out, and I noticed the run stopped, and I looked in the mirror and guys were out of control.

“We didn't get an opportunity to see what would have materialized. It wasn't the best run in the world. It wasn't what I dreamed it would be, all those last few laps. But it was a good enough run I think to get up to his quarter panel and get beside him, and then we would have found out who our friends were at that point.

“But really happy with the way the car ran and it was good to run up front, good to lead. We've really struggled this season with being competitive, and to drive up through there and do that like we did today, and it felt great.”

Talladega Race Report
Start 8th
Finish 2nd
Laps Completed (Led) 188 of 188 (38)
Standings (from leader) 6th (-52)
Condition Running


After Ford EcoBoost 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 +3 Kevin Harvick 5043 0
2 +1 Ryan Newman 5042 -1
3 -2 Denny Hamlin 5037 -6
4 -2 Joey Logano 5028 -15
5 -- Brad Keselowski 2361 -2682
6 -- Jeff Gordon 2348 -2695
7 -- Matt Kenseth 2334 -2709
8 +2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2301 -2742
9 -- Carl Edwards 2288 -2755
10 -2 Kyle Busch 2285 -2758
11 +2 Jimmie Johnson 2274 -2769
12 +2 Kurt Busch 2263 -2780
Full Standings