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Earnhardt Ends Up 7th at Richmond

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 4/26/2014
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Race: Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway
Track Specs: .75-mile D-shaped oval
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 67 degrees
Race Winner: Joey Logano
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 7th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. posted a seventh-place finish in Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The result gives Earnhardt Jr. his fifth top-10 finish in nine starts this season and has him currently fifth overall in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.

After heavy rainfall cancelled qualifying Friday afternoon and NASCAR set the starting lineup based on practice speeds, Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet rolled off 13th but moved forward from the drop of the green flag. When NASCAR called a competition caution to allow teams to monitor tire wear at lap 40, the No. 88 was already up six spots to show seventh on the leaderboard.

Shortly thereafter, Earnhardt Jr. cracked the top five for the first time of the night moving to fourth. For much of the night, he’d see his running position fluctuate between fourth and seventh. Late in the going, Earnhardt Jr. began to creep towards the top spot, bypassing Joey Logano for second at lap 283. His pit crew recorded a lightning-fast pit stop to vault him to the top spot several laps later. His time out front was short-lived as he paced the field for seven laps total on the night.

In the late going, Earnhardt Jr. restarted second beside Matt Kenseth with only nine laps to go. Unfortunately for the No. 88 team, Saturday night wasn’t the night for Earnhardt Jr. to record his second win of the season and fourth career victory at Richmond as he slid back at the drop of the green flag.

Earnhardt Jr. was only able to witness a tremendous four-car battle for the win between Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Logano and Jeff Gordon. Logano prevailed from the battle to capture his second victory in the last three races followed by Gordon, Kyle Busch, Keselowski and Kenseth.

DALE JR. QUOTES
“We had a lot of brake problems with the car and the fluid boiled over on that last caution. I couldn’t keep the pedal up and just had all rear brakes on that last run. It was just real loose getting into the corner and trying to run seventh was all I could do. I was just trying not to fall back any worse than that. The run before, when we were racing with Matt (Kenseth), I thought we had a little bit better car than he him in the middle of the corner, but under that next caution, they boiled over. We had brake problems early in the race and the last 150-200 laps. The fluid is black and Steve (Letarte) said it boiled over a couple times. We’ve got a lot of rubber buildup on the brake duct and the grille, so they just got really hot.”

Richmond Race Report
Start 13th
Finish 7th
Laps Completed (Led) 400 of 400 (7)
Standings (from next) 5th (-32)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After Ford EcoBoost 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 +1 Denny Hamlin 4112 0
2 -1 Joey Logano 4111 -1
3 -- Ryan Newman 4103 -9
4 +4 Kevin Harvick 4102 -10
5 -1 Jeff Gordon 4102 -10
6 -1 Matt Kenseth 4100 -12
7 -- Brad Keselowski 4095 -17
8 -2 Carl Edwards 4088 -24
8 +2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2301 -2742
9 -- Kyle Busch 2280 -1832
10 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2271 -1841
11 +1 AJ Allmendinger 2256 -1856
Full Standings