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Dale Jr. Takes Points Lead With Strong Run at The Glen

By Tyler Overstreet, JR Motorsports | Race Report Published 8/10/2014
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Race: Cheez-It 355 at The Glen
Track Specs: 2.45-mile road course
Weather: Sunny, 84 degrees
Race Winner: A.J. Allmendinger
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 11th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 11th in Sunday’s Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International to overtake teammate Jeff Gordon for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points lead through 22 races.

On the strength of his best starting position at the 2.45-mile road course since 2008, Earnhardt Jr. raced amongst the leaders early on, driving his way to fifth before the race’s first caution at lap nine. The No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet sat comfortably inside the top 10 before a lap-50 caution mixed up strategies for everyone.

Crew chief Steve Letarte opted to leave Junior on track under the caution while many leaders came to pit road for four tires and fuel. The decision put the No. 88 second for the ensuing restart. A wild crash involving Ryan Newman and Michael McDowell at lap 56 thwarted Letarte’s strategy play and also brought the field to a halt under the red flag for one hour and 21 minutes.

Back under the caution, Letarte called Earnhardt Jr. to pit road at lap 58. With many other teams deciding to stay on track or take fuel only, Earnhardt Jr. was moved all the way back to 23rd for a restart with 32 laps remaining. From there, Earnhardt Jr. steadily drove through the field, finding his way to 12th before a caution with 12 laps to go.

The next restart saw teammate Jimmie Johnson sent spinning in turn one, moving the No. 88 up another two spots to 10th.

Following another red flag, this time for Denny Hamlin crashing into sand barriers at the end of pit road, Earnhardt Jr. restarted ninth with only two laps remaining. Noting that his car wasn’t as strong starting in the inside lane, Earnhardt Jr. drifted back two positions to cross the finish line 11th.

A.J. Allmendinger held off Marcos Ambrose to earn his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five.

Watkins Glen Race Report
Start 7th
Finish 11th
Laps Completed (Led) 90 of 90 (0)
Standings (From Leader) 1st (+5)
Condition Running

 

Standings
After MyAFibStorycom 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 -- Brad Keselowski 2059 0
2 -- Jeff Gordon 2052 -7
3 +2 Joey Logano 2049 -10
4 +2 Kevin Harvick 2047 -12
5 -2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2042 -17
6 -2 Jimmie Johnson 2041 -18
7 +1 Kyle Busch 2041 -18
8 +1 Denny Hamlin 2041 -18
9 +1 Kurt Busch 2039 -20
10 +1 Kasey Kahne 2034 -25
11 +3 Matt Kenseth 2034 -25
12 -5 Carl Edwards 2030 -29
Full Standings