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Home : News
NEWS | March 29, 2011

Earnhardt Jr. falls to 12th position in points race after Sunday’s race in Fontana

By Courtesy Story

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet, improved from his 30th starting position to finish 12th Sunday, at Auto Club Speedway and now ranks 12th in the driver standings.

Earnhardt started the 400-mile race in the 30th position, and by Lap 17, he was reporting to his National Guard team that the No. 88 Chevrolet’s handling was significantly loose. Despite handling issues, he still was able to steadily work his way through the field.

By time he came in for a pit stop at Lap 33 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment, Earnhardt was running 12th.

During the stop, rear-tire changer Joe Slingerland suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to retire for the remainder of the race, and back-up rear-tire changer Cam Waugh stepped in to finish the event.

Fourteen laps later and running in the 19th position, Earnhardt reported that the No. 88 Chevrolet’s handling was looser than it was before. However as the long, green-flag run continued, Earnhardt was back on the radio at Lap 60 to report that the car’s balance was getting better.

At Lap 67, crew chief Steve Letarte called Earnhardt in to the pits for four tires and fuel, in addition to air pressure and track bar adjustments.

The race’s first caution came out nine laps later, so the team strategized for Earnhardt to return to the pits for another set of four tires and fuel, as well as an additional track bar adjustment and pulling out the right rear. At the restart on Lap 79, Earnhardt was running 24th.

Earnhardt continued to battle a loose-handling National Guard Chevrolet as the race progressed, and under the race’s second caution at Lap 103, he came in for a pit stop for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.

When the race resumed at Lap 107, Earnhardt was up to 18th, and a couple of laps later he was happy to report that he appreciated the changes made in the last pit stop because it made the No. 88 Chevrolet’s handling significantly better.

While under green-flag conditions, the team opted for Earnhardt to pit for four tires and fuel at Lap 137. By Lap 142, Earnhardt was up to 15th.

Before the race had ended at Lap 200, the team called Earnhardt to pit two more times to help alleviate the No. 88 Chevrolet’s handling issues with minor adjustments. At Lap 176, Earnhardt was running 12th.

When the checkered flag waved at Lap 200, Earnhardt crossed the finish line 12th.