Dale Jr. Escapes Wild Day at Talladega with Top-10 Finish

Tyler Overstreet | JR Motorsports | 10/15/2017

Dale Jr. Mountain Dew NASCAR News Talladega

Dale Jr.'s day at Talladega Superspeedway included a pair of pit road penalties and a spin, but ultimately ended with a seventh-place finish.

Race: Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway
Track Specs: 2.66-mile superspeedway / 188 laps
Weather: Sunny, 80 degrees
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 7th

Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway featured Dale Earnhardt Jr. starting on the pole, overcoming two penalties, spinning out, and getting banged up in a rough 500-mile race. But at the end of the day, the former six-time winner at the Alabama track took home a seventh-place finish.

After claiming his second pole award of the season, Earnhardt’s No. 88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet led the field to the green for Sunday’s 188-lap race. In the early going, Earnhardt settled in comfortably in the top five before heading to pit road on Lap 26. As the No. 88 and others slowed to enter pit road, an accident behind him brought out the caution. Earnhardt was merely yards away from the pit entry line as the caution was declared. By rule, Earnhardt had entered a closed pit and was forced to restart at the end of the longest line.

Later in the opening stage, Earnhardt pitted once again under a caution at Lap 52. This time, the No. 88 was deemed to fast on pit road, forcing Earnhardt to take the ensuing restart from 31st. At the end of the first stage, he was scored 27th. Having pitted just laps earlier, crew chief Greg Ives opted to leave Earnhardt on track between stages and allow him to restart 13th at Lap 62.

Earnhardt spent much of the second stage mired just outside the top 10 and took the green-checkered flag in 15th.

Early in the final stage, Earnhardt raced his way inside the top five once again running just behind Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney before a round of green-flag pit stops at Lap 145. Shortly after the pit stop, the No. 88 narrowly avoided an accident when Trevor Bayne slowed near the front of the pack. Earnhardt made slight contact with the back of Daniel Suarez’s No. 19 car, but both drivers were able to continue.

Not long after that, a multi-car accident at the end of the back stretch on Lap 172 collected many of the Playoff drivers and also sent Earnhardt spinning. Fortunately for the Mountain Dew team, the No. 88 escaped virtually unscathed and Earnhardt was able to restart 11th with 12 laps remaining.

Yet another caution waved on Lap 178 with Earnhardt jumping from 11th to fourth after barely missing an accident involving Bayne, Blaney, Joey Logano and several others.

Earnhardt restarted fourth with eight laps remaining and he ran there when the trio of leaders – Suarez, Elliott and Kyle Larson – all crashed while battling for the top spot. The No. 88 made contact with Elliott’s spinning No. 24 car during the accident.

Despite the minor damage, Earnhardt lined up third for the final restart with only three laps remaining. Over the stretch run to the checkered flag, the damage to the right-front splitter was too much to allow Earnhardt a chance for the victory as he ultimately took the checkered flag seventh.

Brad Keselowski claimed his third victory of the season over Ryan Newman, Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano and Aric Almirola.