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Race Reports


Martinsville Recap: Dale Earnhardt Jr.





DATE:  Oct. 24, 2010

START: 28th   

FINISH: Seventh 



Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, earned his eighth top-10 finish of the season when he crossed the finish line seventh on Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Earnhardt led the 500-lap race three times for a total of 90 laps, and crew chief Lance McGrew earned the Moog Chassis Parts Problem Solver of the Race.

Earnhardt started the event 28th and steadily gained ground by driving his way through the field. On Lap 34, he reported to his AMP Energy/National Guard team that the No. 88 Chevrolet's handling was really tight through the center and that it was lacking forward bite. When the race saw its first caution on Lap 49, McGrew called Earnhardt in for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. At the restart on Lap 53, Earnhardt was 18th.

The second caution of the day came on Lap 112, and Earnhardt was on the radio informing his team that the No.88 Chevrolet still wasn't driving well though the center and still lacked forward bite. Earnhardt made a pit stop during this caution period, and during this stop, he received four tires, fuel as well as track bar and air pressure adjustments. The race resumed on Lap 116, and Earnhardt was 23rd. When the race hit Lap 119, Earnhardt was happy to report that the car's handling felt significantly better.

The caution flagged waved on Lap 171, and Earnhardt had worked his way up to 14th. During this caution period, Earnhardt came in for four tires and fuel. The No. 88 pit crew's efficiency during the stop helped Earnhardt gain a couple positions on the track. When the race resumed on Lap 177, Earnhardt was 11th. Three laps later, he was running in the ninth position.

An accident in Turn 3 brought out the race's eighth caution on Lap 211, and prior to it, Earnhardt was running sixth. McGrew opted for him to pit during this caution period for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment while most of the field stayed out. Earnhardt was 17th when the race restarted on Lap 214. McGrew's pit strategy soon proved to be a smart one when the yellow flag came out on Lap 235 once again for an accident. While others pitted, Earnhardt stayed out and at the restart on Lap 232, he moved up to third.

On Lap 284, Earnhardt passed teammate Jeff Gordon for the lead and led 90 of the next 93 laps. But Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevrolet got tight for the final 125 laps when the sun went behind the grandstands, affecting the tire pressures.

Earnhardt, who needed the car looser in order to be competitive at the end, was able to consistently run inside the top 10 through the remainder of the event. When the race finally reached Lap 500, Earnhardt crossed the line seventh. He remains 19th in the driver standings but is just one point behind David Reutimann for 18th.


"We got toward the front on some pit strategy that worked out really good, and then we had a good enough car at the time to pass the guys that were around us. They had a little less tire than we had. A lot of things worked in our favor to get us the lead then we came out on the pit stop in first and held it all the way until the next caution, I think about 50 or 60 laps. The No. 31 (Jeff Burton) was coming but I felt like if I held my line just perfectly, I was actually a little bit better than him at that point. Those (Richard Childress Racing) cars were really fast all weekend, but they fell off real bad, and I figured he would if I just kept up and was patient out front. I felt good at that point."

"If we get a half-decent car, I feel like I'm smart enough to stay out of trouble and get a decent finish. They worked on it and worked on it and it was actually a top-five, top-three car for sure at the midway point in the race. But when the sun went behind the grandstand, it got real tight in [Turns] 1 and 2 and we just didn't adjust enough at the end. We didn't get the car free enough at the end to be more competitive."

"I love short track racing and I love coming here. This place has a lot of history. I have a lot of respect for it. I used to not understand how to get around here and then I have been pretty good here for a long time. I feel pretty good that when I come here I can run good. I like racing here and I like this style of racing. You kind of have to get over a lot of things out there that happen then you have to stand your ground in a lot of cases. It is a lot of fun."


Courtesy of Hendrick Motorsports.
Media Relations | No. 88 AMP Energy / National Guard Racing


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