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Earnhardt Finishes 10th at New Hampshire

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 7/13/2014
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Race: Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.058-mile oval
Weather: Mostly Cloudy, 79 degrees
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 10th

It was an admittedly frustrating day for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his No. 88 National Guard team but the team’s persistence paid off for a 10th-place finish in Sunday afternoon’s Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Earnhardt Jr.’s 13th top-10 finish of the season maintains the No. 88 team’s second-place position in the season-long NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings through 19 races.

Earnhardt Jr.’s uphill climb from the 28th-starting position began with rapid progress. He moved up 10 spots before the race’s first caution at lap 13 and a decision by crew chief Steve Letarte to not pit provided two additional positions. By lap 47, Earnhardt Jr. cracked the top 10 where he’d spend the majority of the afternoon.

After the race’s midway point, teams began jockeying for position with various four-tire, two-tire, and sometimes fuel-only pit strategies. For the No. 88 team, their strategy called for left-side tires at lap 154, right-side tires at lap 213, and left-side tires again under a caution at lap 250. Through the different sequences, Earnhardt Jr. ran as high as second at one point.

Lined up 10th for a lap-253 restart, Earnhardt Jr. climbed one position to ninth and battled rookie driver Kyle Larson in the waning laps for eighth. When the final caution waved at lap 298, Earnhardt Jr. remained ninth. Several cars attempting to stretch their fuel mileage to the race’s scheduled 301-lap distance ran out of fuel under caution, allowing Earnhardt Jr. to move to seventh for a green-white-checkered restart.

As the fourth car in the inside lane, Earnhardt Jr. was forced to check up when the line’s front car, Kevin Harvick, sputtered out of fuel at the green flag. The slight hesitation for the inside line shuffled Earnhardt Jr. to 10th at the checkered flag.

Brad Keselowski cruised to his third victory of the season and a sweep of the weekend’s races at New Hampshire over Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman.

DALE JR. QUOTES
“It was a really frustrating day. We had been off all weekend. It was just a really frustrating weekend to be honest. The guys worked really hard. Steve and the engineers did their best to try to get the car more competitive, but to be lacking that much speed against a lot of those guys. I had to drive so perfect every lap. That was really frustrating. I had a good race with the 42 (Kyle Larson) at the end. He was really loose. I was way too tight so that was a mixture for us just to be stuck together and not be able to work around each other. I had fun racing him. I don’t know man. I just wish we were better. We’re going to have to come back here and run better than that to have a shot in the Chase. We’ll keep working. 10th place, I’m really disappointed but I remember when we used to like these (finishes).”

New Hampshire Race Report
Start 28th
Finish 10th
Laps Completed (Led) 305 of 305 (0)
Standings (From Leader) 2nd (-12)
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