Unscheduled Pit Stop Late Leaves Junior 22nd at Talladega

Tyler Overstreet | JR Motorsports | 5/7/2017

Dale Jr. NASCAR Nationwide News Talladega

Dale Jr. was inside the top five late in the race at Talladega Superspeedway before being forced to pit because of a loose left-rear wheel.

Race: Talladega 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
Track Specs: 2.66-mile superspeedway / 188 laps
Weather: Sunny, 70 degrees
Race Winner: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 22nd

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was running inside the top five late and poised to make a move for the race lead when he was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel at Talladega Superspeedway. The No. 88 Nationwide team ultimately finished 22nd.

After starting second, Earnhardt ran inside the top 10 for much of the first stage while telling his team that his car was alright as he bided his time. Late in the opening 55-lap stage, Earnhardt was shuffled to 19th. Throughout the second stage, Earnhardt found himself on the outside looking in at the top 10 as his running position fluctuated between 10th and 20th before eventually finishing the stage 24th.

The final stage saw Earnhardt begin working his way towards the front. After a cycle of green-flag pit stops, the No. 88 vaulted its way inside the top 10. When AJ Allmendinger and Chase Elliott made contact on the back stretch on lap 169, Earnhardt took evasive action to the inside to dodge the wreck and catapult his way to third for a restart with only 15 laps remaining.

Earnhardt established himself in third on the initial lap after the restart, but was forced to pull high and out of the way when he felt a bad vibration with the left-rear tire. He managed to avoid major trouble as he coasted his way back to pit road. The trip to pit lane dropped Earnhardt off the lead lap, which he did recover when the caution waved again several laps later. In the end, Earnhardt took the checkered flag 22nd.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. captured his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory with Jamie McMurray second, Kyle Busch third, Aric Almirola fourth and Kasey Kahne rounding out the top five.