News

Find the Latest News on Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Another Strong Run for Junior, 2nd at Darlington

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 4/12/2014
Picture

Race: Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway
Track Specs: 1.366-mile oval
Weather: Clear, 69 degrees
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 2nd

Dale Earnhardt Jr. recorded his fifth top-three finish in only eight starts this season with a runner-up effort in Saturday night’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. With the finish, Earnhardt Jr. rebounds to fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings after a disappointing finish at Texas last week.

From the drop of the green flag, Earnhardt Jr. climbed upward from his 15th-starting position, charging into the top 10 by lap 15 and the top five by lap 46. Earnhardt Jr.’s running position stabilized inside the top five from that point following eventual race winner Kevin Harvick, who led a race-high 238 laps.

Despite a constant battle to find grip on the tricky 1.366-mile oval deemed “Too Tough to Tame”, Earnhardt Jr. maintained a top-five position until late in the race. During a caution at lap 366, crew chief Steve Letarte elected to roll the dice and give Dale Jr. two fresh tires and the lead for a late restart with laps dwindling away.

Earnhardt Jr. overtook teammate Jimmie Johnson on the first of two green-white-checkered restarts and held the lead as the field approached a second and final restart. On the restart, Harvick proved to be too much to handle as he bypassed Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet on the outside in turns three and four coming to the white flag. Earnhardt Jr. held on to second for the final lap lap to score his fifth top-three finish of the season.

Earnhardt Jr. jumps to fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings after eight races, trailing overall leader Jeff Gordon by 26 points.

DALE JR. QUOTES
Tell us about the last few laps…
“Just didn’t have enough tires you know. (Kevin) Harvick had the best car and the best tires at the end. It was real hard to hold him off. I should have probably ran the top down there in (Turns) 3 and 4 and made him go around the bottom, but I think he was going to get us anyway and we were going to try. A great run, good job by my team, this isn’t one of my best tracks so my team gave me a great car. I’ve got to give them a lot of credit.”

You took the bottom. He had fresher tires. Did you still think that might give you that shot?
“No, he (Kevin Harvick) had the best car and the best tires. I wasn’t looking in the mirror so I couldn’t really tell where anybody was. But they just said he was coming. So, I maybe should have run the top there in (turns) 3 and 4 coming to the white (flag) and made him work the bottom to get around us. We had a great car. This is the best finish I’ve had here. I don’t really run that great here, so the guys had to prepare a really good car for us to run that well. I’ve got to give the National Guard team a lot of credit.”

Darlington Race Report
Start 15th
Finish 2nd
Laps Completed (Led) 374 of 374 (5)
Standings (from next) 4th (-26)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After Brickyard 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Jeff Gordon 717 0
2 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 693 -24
3 -- Brad Keselowski 666 -51
4 -- Matt Kenseth 661 -56
5 -- Jimmie Johnson 628 -89
6 +2 Kyle Busch 609 -108
7 -- Ryan Newman 606 -111
8 -2 Carl Edwards 603 -114
9 -- Joey Logano 591 -126
10 -- Clint Bowyer 577 -140
11 +1 Denny Hamlin 572 -145
12 +1 Kevin Harvick 565 -152
Full Standings