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Earnhardt Finishes 24th at Bristol

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 3/16/2014
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Race: Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway
Track Specs: .533-mile concrete oval
Weather: Rain, 42 degrees
Race Winner: Carl Edwards
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 24th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 24th in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The finish drops Earnhardt Jr. to second in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings, trailing Brad Keselowski by 10 points.

Following a two-hour rain delay, Earnhardt Jr. charged forward from his 14th-starting position to seventh by the race’s first caution at lap 50. When a second rain shower hit after 124 laps, Earnhardt Jr. found himself in the top five and one of the only cars in the field that could find speed utilizing the inside line.

After a three-hour delay, the handling of Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet deteriorated as the car became progressively tighter. The condition resulted in Earnhardt Jr. dropping from inside the top 10 to outside the top 20 and a lap down. At lap 326, Earnhardt Jr. urgently radioed his team “I’ve got to pit!” because of a left-front tire issue. Pitting under green cost Earnhardt Jr. three additional laps, leaving him four laps down and outside the top 30.

Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag 24th, ending his three-race streak of top-two finishes to open the season.

DALE JR. QUOTES
“Just a real crummy finish. We had a fast car early in the race and then when we went back racing after the rain delay, the thing just wouldn’t turn and it tore the left-front tire off of it. We changed tires thinking it was just a bad set because we had a tire out of balance in practice. The next set of tires did the same thing, just tore it right up and so you’re off the pace, maybe half-a-second when that left-front tire goes away completely. It was shaking bad and I thought maybe the wheel was coming loose so we came in and made a lot of adjustments to free the car up and got ourselves four laps down. Then we finally got the car to where it would keep the tires on it. Still wasn’t driving that fast. Still don’t know why we lost our speed because we really had great speed the first 130 laps of the race. Hopefully they take it home and we find something changed, something moved but you just never know.”

Bristol Race Report
Start 14th
Finish 24th
Laps Completed (Led) 499 of 503 (0)
Standings (from next) 2nd (-10)
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