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Junior Battles Back for 9th at Indianapolis

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 7/27/2014
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Race: Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 2.5-mile oval
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 83 degrees
Race Winner: Jeff Gordon
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 9th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. raced to a ninth-place finish in Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to record his 14th top-10 effort in 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season. He remains second to teammate Jeff Gordon in the season-long points’ standings.

Earnhardt Jr. spent the race’s initial stint trying to gain track position after a 23rd-place qualifying effort. He moved to 17th before a lap-20 competition caution and crew chief Steve Letarte’s call to change only right-side tires gave Earnhardt Jr. another six positions to 11th. By lap 26, he had cracked the top 10 for the first time.

With teams utilizing different pit strategies, Earnhardt Jr. continued to run inside the top 15 until an untimely caution at lap 69 trapped the No. 88 National Guard team one lap down. As the free-pass recipient, Earnhardt Jr. restarted 29th at lap 72. From that point, the No. 88 began its ascent up the leaderboard, climbing to 16th before the race’s next caution at lap 96.

Mired between 10th and 15th as the race wound down, Letarte elected to give Earnhardt Jr. right-side tires only under the final caution at lap 139. The fresh tires gave Earnhardt Jr. the extra grip he needed to move from 13th to ninth at the checkered flag.

Gordon posted his fifth win at the legendary 2.5-mile oval followed by Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth, with Joey Logano rounding out the top five.

Indianapolis Race Report
Start 23rd
Finish 9th
Laps Completed (Led) 160 of 160 (0)
Standings (From Leader) 2nd (-24)
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