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NEWS | Sept. 8, 2011

Earnhardt poised to clinch spot in postseason

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Military Intelligence NASCAR racecar, finished 19th in Tuesday’s rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga.

Earnhardt remains ninth in the championship standings with one race until the field is set for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Earnhardt has a 25-point lead over 11th-place Brad Keselowski, and regardless of how any other driver finishes, Earnhardt will clinch a postseason spot on Saturday if he finishes 20th or better at Richmond International Raceway.

Earnhardt qualified 29th for the night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but a steady rain moved into the area on Sunday afternoon. NASCAR officials knew the remnants of Hurricane Lee were going to be sticking around for a while and postponed the race until Tuesday morning.

When the field took the green, it was under cloudy and cool skies with rain lingering in the area. The teams had practice and qualified with sunny skies and hot temperatures. During the early stages of the race, Earnhardt worked with crew chief Steve Letarte to adjust the handling on the blue-and-white racecar. Despite the changes, Earnhardt hovered just outside the top 20.

Just past the halfway point, Earnhardt broke inside the top 20 and was running 17th when the race was red-flagged for rain. After a 25-minute break in action, the drivers returned to their cars.

Earnhardt continued to provide feedback on the handling and held his footing inside the top 20 for the final laps. Despite being loose on the final run, Earnhardt crossed the finish line 19th behind race winner and teammate Jeff Gordon.

 

 

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