DATE: April 19, 2010
POINTS POSITION: Seventh
RECAPPING THE RACE:
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard, scored his third top-10 finish of the season after leading 46 laps during Monday's rescheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway.
With his eighth-place finish, Earnhardt advances three positions to seventh in the Sprint Cup Series championship standings. He trails leader and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson by 235 points, but is only 15 points away from teammate Jeff Gordon, who ranks fifth.
Earnhardt opened the weekend on a strong note, posting the third-fastest time during practice and the ninth-fastest lap time during Friday's qualifying session. But the No. 88 team didn't have much time to work on its race setup as rain showers moved into the area on Saturday, prompting NASCAR officials to cancel the final two practices. The rain system stuck around on Sunday, and NASCAR officials postponed the start of the 500-mile event to Monday.
When the green flag dropped on Monday, Earnhardt maintained his footing inside the top 10. He was scored eighth when the first yellow flag was waved on Lap 25 for a scheduled competition caution. Crew chief Lance McGrew called for four fresh tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. A solid pit stop by the crew notched Earnhardt two spots on pit road.
Earnhardt restarted sixth on Lap 32 and continued his forward march to the front. A roar from the crowd on Lap 76 indicated that the No. 88 had moved in to the top spot.
The caution flag waved on Lap 99 with Earnhardt running fourth. He radioed McGrew that his green-and-white Chevy was loose entering Turn 1. McGrew brought his driver down pit road and called for right-side tires with an air-pressure adjustment. The pit strategy moved Earnhardt off pit road first, and he led the field to the restart on Lap 104.
The middle stages of the race were caution-free and after the field cycled through a pair of green-flag pit stops, the No. 88 Chevy was shown atop the scoring pylon on Lap 219.
Earnhardt was running third on Lap 232, when the caution flag waved for a spin in Turn 2 and he brought his No. 88 Chevy down pit road. The crew went to work bolting on four fresh Goodyear tires and refueling the Chevy. After making air pressure and chassis adjustments, the crew sent Earnhardt back to green-flag racing on Lap 237 in the sixth position, behind other teams that opted for two tires only.
During the ensuing long green-flag run, Earnhardt held steady in the top 10. He powered into the fifth position when the day's sixth caution flag waved on Lap 310 and followed the leaders down pit road for right-side tires and fuel. Quick work by the crew netted Earnhardt one position on pit road.
The field went back to green-flag racing, and Earnhardt made his way to the third position before the caution flag was displayed one lap later for a nine-car pileup on the frontstretch.
After a 20-minute halt in the action to clean up the debris, Earnhardt restarted third on Lap 322 for a 14 lap showdown. Earnhardt radioed to McGrew that his Chevrolet had a loose-handling condition, and he slipped back to eighth, which is where he finished, when the checkered flag was waved.
QUOTING DALE EARNHARDT JR.:
EARNHARDT (ON SUNDAY'S RUN.): "I'm proud of my team. The AMP Energy/National Guard guys worked hard. We didn't have any race practice in practice this weekend. We did all qualifying runs. So they did a good job sort of guessing what the car needed, and it was really good all day. At the end, I wish I could have done a better job and got us a better finish. I just tried my best, and I couldn't hold off them guys with four tires. We were about a fifth-place car all day long, and it was tough to race them guys on newer tires there."
Courtesy of Hendrick Motorsports.
Media Relations | No. 88 AMP Energy / National Guard Racing
Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Official Site - www.dalejr.com