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NEWS | Sept. 12, 2011

Earnhardt will start post-season Chase for the Cup in 10th position

By Courtesy Story

Dale Earnhardt Jr. clinched a spot in the 2011 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup on Saturday night with his 16th-place finish at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va. The 400-lap event was marred with multiple on-track accidents, including one that collected Earnhardt on Lap 8.

Earnhardt is seeded 10th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship standings as the series heads into the 10-race playoffs next weekend in Joliet, Ill., 12 points behind first seed Kyle Busch.

Earnhardt lined up 27th for Saturday’s green flag and things got interesting quickly on the Virginia short track. As Earnhardt was slowing to avoid an accident in Turn 4, he was shoved by another competitor into the melee causing significant damage to the front fender. Crew chief Steve Letarte called his driver to pit road to assess the damage. Letarte calmly orchestrated the pit stop as the crew went to work repairing the damage.

Quick work by the crew kept Earnhardt on the lead lap for the Lap 19 restart.

Earnhardt was running 32nd and was struggling with the handing on the damaged green-and-white NASCAR racecar. Earnhardt raced inside the top 30 for much of the race as the team kept an eye on the No. 2 car that was battling Earnhardt for the 10th spot in the Chase.

Earnhardt was running 21st when the 12th caution of the night came out on Lap 286. Letarte called for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. Earnhardt went back to green-flag racing scored 19th. Earnhardt continued to run inside the top 20 for the remainder of the race and crossed the finish line 16th.



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