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NEWS | June 2, 2011

Half-a-lap short on fuel, Earnhardt finishes 7th at Charlotte

By Courtesy Story

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard racecar, was right where he wanted to be when the field took the white flag at the 600-mile event at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, leading on the last lap but running out of fuel on the backstretch; he was able to coast his car to a seventh-place finish.

The team knew that the fuel window would be really tight with the extended green-white-checkered flag finish, but crew chief Steve Letarte made the gamble to stay out on final caution period to keep track position.

Earnhardt lined up his blue-and-white NASCAR racecar 25th for the Memorial Day weekend event, and temperatures were hot and humid when the field took the green flag for longest race of the season.

Earnhardt was fast out of the gate and cracked the top 10 by Lap 52.

Throughout the night, teams opted for different fuel and tire strategies during each pit stop which shuffled the No. 88 National Guard car back during the middle stages of the race, but Earnhardt raced his way back toward the front every time.

The 13th caution flag waved on Lap 344 of the 400-lap event with Earnhardt running third.

Letarte called his driver to pit road for four tires and fuel, and both Earnhardt and Letarte knew that they would be extremely tight on fuel to make it the distance.

Earnhardt restarted fifth for the Lap 248 restart, but by Lap 378, he was running third and watching the leaders race each other hard, expending fuel while doing so.

The final caution flag waved on Lap 397 and the leader made his way down pit road for fuel, while Earnhardt remained on the track.

Earnhardt restarted second and quickly assumed the lead for the green-white-checkered flag finish and looked poised to win as he led the field to the white flag but came up a half-a-lap short on fuel.

He crossed the finish line seventh. Earnhardt remains fourth in the championship standings and trails leader Carl Edwards by 43 points.

 

 

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