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Earnhardt Continues Strong Start With 2nd at Phoenix

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 3/2/2014
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Race: The Profit CNBC 500 at Phoenix International Raceway
Track Specs: 1-mile tri-oval
Weather: Clear, 70 deg.
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
Dale Jr.’s finish: 2nd

Dale Earnhardt Jr. followed up his Daytona 500 victory with a second-place finish in the season’s second race at Phoenix International Raceway. The back-to-back top-two finishes mark Earnhardt Jr.’s best career start, improving on a second and fifth to start last season.

Starting fifth, Earnhardt Jr. quickly asserted himself, moving up from the drop of the green flag. The No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet settled into second behind eventual race winner Kevin Harvick early on. The pair spent the majority of the event maintaining a strange-hold on the top-two spots as Harvick would lead a race-high 224 laps.

After a final cycle of pit stops, Earnhardt Jr. lined up on Harvick’s outside for four restarts in the last 65 laps. Each time, Earnhardt Jr. was forced to fend off Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Logano’s No. 22 made contact with Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 in turn three on one occasion with both drivers corralling their cars and continuing on.

Earnhardt Jr. held off Keselowski on the final restart but ran out of time to catch Harvick as the No. 88 team recorded their third consecutive top-five finish at the one-mile tri-oval.

DALE JR. QUOTES
“We had a great car. (Kevin) Harvick was so fast all weekend, congratulations to him and his whole team. They did an awesome job getting ready for this race and were just fast out of the gate. We got a little bit better; we leaned on our teammates and got the car a lot better. Steve (Letarte) and those guys just keep getting better and better. These cars I’m driving I think are the best in the garage. Right at the end of the race I think we were a little bit quicker than Kevin (Harvick). Just real, real happy with the cars, just hate to come home second, but that No. 4 car was quick all week.”

Phoenix Race Report
Start 5th
Finish 2nd
Laps Completed (Led) 312 of 312 (0)
Standings (from next) 1st (+6)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After GEICO 500
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Joey Logano 3121 0
2 +1 Kevin Harvick 3117 -4
3 +1 Ryan Newman 3117 -4
4 +3 Denny Hamlin 3100 -21
5 +4 Matt Kenseth 3099 -22
6 -1 Carl Edwards 3099 -22
7 -1 Jeff Gordon 3093 -28
8 -- Kasey Kahne 3090 -31
9 -7 Kyle Busch 3086 -35
10 -- Brad Keselowski 3085 -36
11 -- Jimmie Johnson 3053 -68
12 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3045 -76
Full Standings