[media-credit name=”kansasspeedway.com” align=”alignright” width=”158″][/media-credit]Race: STP 400 at Kansas Speedway
Track Specs: 1.5-mile speedway / 267 laps
Weather: Cool, windy
Race Winner: Denny Hamlin
Dale Jr.’s Finish: 7th
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished Sunday’s running of the STP 400 where he started – in seventh position – bringing the No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet home without harm or headache from his afternoon drive at Kansas Speedway. The finish was Earnhardt Jr.’s fourth top-10 in a row and sixth in eight races in 2012. He has finished 15th or better in all of his races this year.
Earnhardt Jr. never fell out of the top-10 except for pit cycling and raced in the top-five for much of the race. The final 45-lap run to the checkered flag was plagued by a recurring looseness in the car, perhaps worsened by the sun’s untimely first appearance when it mattered most. The No. 88 Chevy had been running sixth but slipped two spots to eighth as it searched for grip on the hot and oily track surface; then picked one back up when Mark Martin’s engine expired with 10 laps to go.
Denny Hamlin won for the second time this season, holding off the dominant Martin Truex Jr. in the closing laps. Jimmie Johnson finished third, Matt Kenseth fourth and Greg Biffle fifth. The race was slowed by a record-low three yellow flags.
Earnhardt Jr. dropped to fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings but lost only two points to the leader. He is now 21 points behind first-place Biffle and four points behind third-place Kenseth.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Quotes
“We were really, really loose there at the end of the race, and I was just doing everything I could to get it to the end. I don’t know whether if it was the sun or a bad set of tires or what. We had been loose all day, but it was really tough at the end. In all, it wasn’t a bad day for us. I don’t know if this was a top-five car, but we ran there a good bit and felt we had a good chance at finishing in the top five. I have to thank my pit crew. We had really good stops today. My team worked hard all weekend, and we were able to get out of here with a respectable day and head to Richmond next week with a lot to look forward to.”
|KANSAS RACE REPORT|
|Laps Completed (Led)||267 of 267 (0)|
|Standings (from leader)||4th (-21)|
|Pitstops||Laps 46, 92, 133, 178 and 221|