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Earnhardt Ends 2013 With 3rd at Homestead

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 11/17/2013
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Race: Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile oval / 267 laps
Weather: Clear, 77 degrees
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 3rd
Dale Jr.'s Chase Standing: 5th (-56)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. concluded a strong 2013 season with a third-place finish in the season finale Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Earnhardt led 28 laps on his way to his third consecutive top-five finish and fifth top-five during NASCAR’s 10-race Chase to decide the Sprint Cup champion.

Earnhardt moved forward from the drop of the green flag and an early two-tire call by crew chief Steve Letarte aided his progress inside the top 10. The No. 88 National Guard team raced comfortably in the bottom half of the top 10 for much of the first half of the race before Earnhardt began utilizing a groove inches from the outside wall to move from eighth to the lead for the first time at lap 140.

In the late stages of the race, Earnhardt held the lead when the final caution flag flew at lap 232 for a fire and subsequent explosion in the right rear of Paul Menard’s No. 27.

Earnhardt restarted second at lap 240 but quickly overtook Denny Hamlin and attempted to pull away in the waning laps. Unfortunately for Earnhardt, his No. 88 Chevrolet favored longer green-flag stints and was too loose for the short run to the finish, which allowed Hamlin and Matt Kenseth to shuffle Earnhardt to third. Earnhardt’s attempts to bypass Kenseth were unsuccessful as the two made contact in the final laps as Hamlin cruised to his first victory of the season and Earnhardt was forced to settle for third.

Earnhardt ends the 2013 season fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, only 56 points behind teammate Jimmie Johnson who collected his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship in the past eight seasons. The No. 88 team finishes the season with 10 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes on the season, giving Earnhardt’s his first top-five finish in the overall series standings since 2006. Earnhardt’s fifth-place ranking marks his highest finish since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2008 (previous best was seventh in 2011).

DALE JR. QUOTES
“I am really happy to run as well as we have this season. This has been one of the best years I've had, certainly the best year I've had working with Hendrick (Motorsports). I just want to give my team a lot of credit. Steve Letarte, my engineers, did just an amazing job providing these good cars every week.”

Homestead Race Report
Start 21st
Finish 3rd
Laps Completed (Led) 267 of 267 (28)
Standings (from leader) 5th (-56)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After MyAFibStorycom 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Brad Keselowski 2059 0
2 -- Jeff Gordon 2052 -7
3 +2 Joey Logano 2049 -10
4 +2 Kevin Harvick 2047 -12
5 -2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2042 -17
6 -2 Jimmie Johnson 2041 -18
7 +1 Kyle Busch 2041 -18
8 +1 Denny Hamlin 2041 -18
9 +1 Kurt Busch 2039 -20
10 +1 Kasey Kahne 2034 -25
11 +3 Matt Kenseth 2034 -25
12 -5 Carl Edwards 2030 -29
Full Standings