Junior Logs Top-10 Finish in World 600 at Charlotte

Tyler Overstreet | JR Motorsports | 5/28/2017

Charlotte Dale Jr. NASCAR Nationwide News

Dale Jr. notched his second top-10 finish of 2017 with a 10th-place result at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Race: World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile quad-oval / 400 laps
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 67 degrees
Race Winner: Austin Dillon
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 10th

Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended NASCAR’s longest night with a 10th-place finish in the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The result marks the No. 88 Nationwide team’s second top-10 finish of 2017.

From the outset, Earnhardt radioed his team that his Chevrolet was very tight, particularly in the center of the turns. As the sun set and crew chief Greg Ives continued to make adjustments to the No. 88, Earnhardt slowly crept forward into the top 15.

The race was halted at lap 143 because of rain and lightning at the track. Earnhardt was scored 13th prior to the nearly two-hour delay. Once racing resumed under complete darkness, Earnhardt established himself inside the top 15 before having to make an unscheduled second trip to pit road under caution at lap 177 when a lug nut became lodged between the wheel and hub. The misfortune set the No. 88 back to 22nd with only 20 laps remaining in the second stage. He was able to recover four positions to finish the stage 18th.

The No. 88 Nationwide crew gained their driver six combined positions over two pit stops during the third stage, allowing Earnhardt to climb as high as 11th at one point. Ives persistent efforts to improve the No. 88 began to pay off as Earnhardt reported that he liked the car’s handling despite a slight vibration prior to a caution at lap 293. Earnhardt lined up 13th for a three-lap sprint to the end of the third stage and was able to maneuver his way to ninth to score two stage points.

Throughout the fourth and final stage, Earnhardt ran as high as ninth and as low as 11th. As the race ran green in the late laps, Earnhardt was forced to pit at lap 368 while several other drivers, including Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon, opted to try stretching their fuel to the finish.

Johnson’s fuel ran dry with only two laps remaining, allowing Dillon to sweep by and claim his first NASCAR Cup Series victory with Kyle Busch second, Martin Truex Jr. third, Matt Kenseth fourth and Denny Hamlin fifth.