Sunday, May 3, 2015

Earnhardt Dominates at Talladega

Originally written for CLNS Radio. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to victory lane after winning Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Photo courtesy Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Earnhardt’s last victory at Talladega came in 2004.  Always a threat to win at the track, he won a record four-straight races between 2001 and 2003.

 The victory was the sixth of Earnhardt’s career at Talladega, tying Jeff Gordon as the active leader at the track.  Earnhardt said he had been bothered with his long winless streak.

“It’s been a long time since I won here, we’ve run so good here,” Earnhardt said.  “To not win here in so many races, it just bothers you.”

Over the final ten laps, Earnhardt picked up debris on his grille that causes his car to overheat.  Earnhardt was unsure whether his car could hold up to the heat and a potential challenge from eventual runner-up, and teammate, Jimmie Johnson.

“I didn’t know what [Johnson] had up his sleeve,” Earnhardt said.  “We had a real strong car and I didn’t know if my motor was going to last, but I had faith in it that it would because we build fast cars and they’re tough.”

Earnhardt said this victory, which locks his team into the Chase, will change the way they run races over the summer.

“We weren’t winning races, and now we’re locked into that Chase,” Earnhardt said.  “Now that we’re locked into that, we can call these races so differently for now so maybe we’ll have more wins on the way.”

Unofficial results:
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Paul Menard
4. Ryan Blaney
5. Martin Truex Jr.
6. Sam Hornish Jr.
7. Ryan Newman
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Josh Wise
11. Jamie McMurray
12. Kurt Busch
13. Cole Whitt
14. J.J. Yeley
15. Aric Almirola
16. Alex Bowman
17. AJ Allmendinger
18. Matt DiBenedetto
19. Tony Stewart
20. David Gilliland
21. Danica Patrick
22. Brad Keselowski
23. Justin Allgaier
24. Chris Buescher
25. Matt Kenseth
26. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
27. Bobby Labonte
28. Casey Mears
29. Michael Annett
30. Clint Bowyer
31. Jeff Gordon
32. Carl Edwards
33. Joey Logano
34. Kasey Kahne
35. Austin Dillon
36. Michael Waltrip
37. Greg Biffle
38. David Ragan
39. Landon Cassill
40. Brendan Gaughan
41. Trevor Bayne
42. Kyle Larson
43. Brian Scott

Photo courtesy Jerry Markland/Getty Images

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