Junior Finishes 35th in Final Texas Race

Tyler Overstreet | JR Motorsports | 11/5/2017

Dale Jr. NASCAR Nationwide News Texas

Dale Jr. was poised for a top-15 day when a mechanical issue sent the No. 88 behind the wall for 30 laps during the final stage.

Race: Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile quad-oval / 334 laps
Weather: Clear, 89 degrees
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 35th

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final trip to Texas Motor Speedway ended with a 35th-place result after a left-front wheel hub issue sent the No. 88 Nationwide / Justice League Chevrolet behind the wall for 30 laps during the race’s final stage.

After starting 17th, Earnhardt quickly moved inside the top 15 in the opening laps. The former Texas winner raced his way as high as 11th during the first stage while reporting to crew chief Greg Ives that his Chevrolet was very loose on corner entry, but too tight on exit. By the end of the opening 85-lap stage, Earnhardt was scored 14th.

The second stage featured much of the same for the No. 88 Nationwide / Justice League team as Earnhardt continued to be a mainstay in the top 15 while working with Ives to improve the car’s handling. A strategy play late in the stage kept Earnhardt on track later than most other leaders. The move allowed Earnhardt to lead three laps during the sequence of green-flag pit stops. Following his pit stop, the No. 88 was scored a lap down in 15th to the end the stage, but Earnhardt found himself in position to receive the free pass to start the final stage.

Earnhardt continued to run between 11th and 15th in the early portion of the final stage. Following a Lap-239 restart, Earnhardt quickly reported that he had an issue. A quick caution allowed Earnhardt to visit pit road for the Nationwide crew to assess the situation. That is when the team discovered a left-front wheel hub issue that sent Earnhardt to the garage for repairs.

The team exacted the repairs in diligent fashion, but Earnhardt lost 30 laps to the leaders. The No. 88 did return to the track to finish the race and ultimately took the checkered flag in 35th position.

Kevin Harvick won the race to clinch his spot in the Championship 4 in two weeks at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Martin Truex Jr. finished second to become the third driver to lock in the for the championship race. Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.