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Junior Posts Solid Top-Five Finish at Kansas

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 5/11/2014
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Race: 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile tri-oval
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 73 degrees
Race Winner: Jeff Gordon
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 5th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. logged his sixth top-five finish of 2014 with a fifth-place result in Saturday night’s 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway. With the finish, Earnhardt Jr. remains fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings after 11 races.

From the drop of the green flag, Earnhardt Jr. began climbing his way through the field utilizing the high groove around the 1.5-mile tri-oval. Despite battling a recurring tight condition with his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet, Earnhardt Jr. made his way inside the top 10 before the team’s first pit stop at lap 43.

Once he cracked the top 10, Earnhardt Jr. established himself as a contender moving into the top five and eventually the lead for nine laps thanks to a two-tire pit stop prior to a lap-118 restart. After relinquishing the lead to Joey Logano, Earnhardt Jr. maintained a spot in the top five.

Before hitting pit road under green for the final time at lap 237, Earnhardt Jr. ran fourth. Through the cycle of pit stops, he came off pit road in fifth where he’d take the checkered flag.

Earnhardt Jr.’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon held off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick to grab his first win of the 2014 season. Kasey Kahne took third with Logano fourth.

DALE JR. QUOTES
“We were too tight all weekend. We were working on front grip all weekend and I knew, when the temperatures came down, the bottom (groove) was going to get faster and we were going to be in trouble. We got really tight at the end of the race. The National Guard team did a good job all weekend. It was a brand new car. They worked really hard putting that car together. It was just kind of frustrating that we never really improved the front grip. We struggled all weekend with it and never really improved it, so I’m frustrated about that, but it was a good result for us.”

Kansas Race Report
Start 22nd
Finish 5th
Laps Completed (Led) 267 of 267 (9)
Standings (from next) 4th (-26)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After Ford EcoBoost 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 +3 Kevin Harvick 5043 0
2 +1 Ryan Newman 5042 -1
3 -2 Denny Hamlin 5037 -6
4 -2 Joey Logano 5028 -15
5 -- Brad Keselowski 2361 -2682
6 -- Jeff Gordon 2348 -2695
7 -- Matt Kenseth 2334 -2709
8 +2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2301 -2742
9 -- Carl Edwards 2288 -2755
10 -2 Kyle Busch 2285 -2758
11 +2 Jimmie Johnson 2274 -2769
12 +2 Kurt Busch 2263 -2780
Full Standings