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NEWS | Aug. 31, 2011

Earnhardt remains ninth, cushions lead over 11th place

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 National Guard team notched a 16th-place finish in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. With the result, Earnhardt further builds his cushion in the championship standings.

Earnhardt currently is ranked ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship standings, and with two races remaining until the field is set, Earnhardt has extended his lead over 11th-place to 39 points.

Earnhardt lined up 22nd Saturday for the green flag in the 500-lap race at the historic Tennessee short track, and ran a special gold-and-white paint scheme to honor the track’s 50th anniversary of racing.

During the opening laps, Earnhardt struggled with the handling on his National Guard machine and wasn’t able to make any forward progress.

On Lap 110, Earnhardt cracked the top 20 and at the halfway point was running inside the top 15. Despite crew chief Steve Letarte’s attempts to improve the handling, Earnhardt raced in and around the top 15 during the second half of the race.

Earnhardt was running 15th when the evening’s final caution flag waved on Lap 415 for an accident in Turn 3. Letarte made the call for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment.

Quick work by the over-the-wall crew netted Earnhardt two spots on pit road.

The field went back to green-flag racing on Lap 420 with Earnhardt running 13th. He dropped three hard-fought positions during the closing laps to cross the finish line 16th.

 

 

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