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Dale Jr. Finishes 9th at the Monster Mile

By Mike Davis, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 6/1/2014
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Race: FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks
Track Specs: 1-mile concrete oval
Weather: Sunny, clear
Race Winner: Jimmie Johnson
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 9th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 9th Sunday afternoon in the FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway, his eighth top-10 finish in 13 races this year. The result keeps him fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, 34 points behind leader Matt Kenseth and seven points behind fourth-place Jimmie Johnson.

Climbing as high as third place halfway through the race, Earnhardt Jr. was in seventh with a pivotal pit stop approaching with 38 laps to go. Earnhardt Jr. nosed the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet into the stall with a full head of steam and was bumped by Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 car. Cosmetically the contact was minor, but with Earnhardt’s momentum leaving no room for error, the nudge by Hamlin was enough to push the 88 through its stall. It forced Earnhardt to back up, and the extra time cost him six spots on pit road and put him in 13th for a late restart.

Dale Jr. made quick work on the restart with 34 laps to go and quickly got back in the top 10. A debris caution inside 10 to go reset the field, and crew chief Steve Letarte elected for a two-tire pit stop. It set up a four-lap sprint to the checkered flag, in which Dale Jr. restarted 10th and passed for ninth to end his afternoon.

Jimmie Johnson won for the second consecutive week, leading 272 of 400 laps. Brad Keselowski struggled early but rallied to finish second. Matt Kenseth led 17 laps and finished third, which was good enough to overtake the points lead.

The race featured eight cautions for 41 laps and two red flags – the first following a crash involving Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Greg Biffle, and the second on lap 161 to repair a hole in the track surface.

DALE JR. QUOTES
“The car was fun to drive today. We were a little snug there early in the race but Steve made some pretty good adjustments. Obviously the 48 had everyone covered today. Congrats to Jimmie and Chad and all those guys for getting it done in a big way. Our car was definitely better than ninth place, but we had an issue there at the end. I was trying to get all I could get on pit road, and we had a little contact there from the 11. It’s really nobody’s fault, just unfortunate. It cost us some spots, but again Steve made some good calls there at the end and we were able to get most of it back. All in all, the car had speed so I was happy about that. We’ll continue to work out some of these kinks and keep going for wins.”

Dover Race Report
Start 13th
Finish 9th
Laps Completed (Led) 400 of 400 (0)
Standings (From Leader) 5th (-34)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After Pure Michigan 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 +1 Jeff Gordon 816 0
2 -1 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 813 -3
3 +1 Brad Keselowski 733 -83
4 +1 Joey Logano 714 -102
5 -2 Matt Kenseth 709 -107
6 +2 Kevin Harvick 687 -129
7 -- Jimmie Johnson 686 -130
8 -2 Carl Edwards 679 -137
9 -- Ryan Newman 679 -137
10 +1 Clint Bowyer 672 -144
11 +1 Greg Biffle 660 -156
12 +1 Kasey Kahne 651 -165
Full Standings