NASCAR at Fontana, California

(Ron Lewis photo)

EARNHARDT MOVES INTO POINT LEAD WITH SECOND-PLACE FINISH

FONTANA, Calif. (March 24, 2013) – Behind the wheel of his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS, Dale Earnhardt Jr. avoided a late-race accident between the leaders to collect a second-place finish at Auto Club Speedway, Round 5 of the 36-race 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. 

Earnhardt, Jr. and his No. 88 Chevy SS team are off to a fast start as the schedule swings into full gear.  The team has already collected five top-10 finishes in the first five races; the only team to accomplish that feat this year. Earnhardt, Jr. also is now the series point leader with a 12-point advantage over his closest competitor.

“We had a good car all day, and sort of just got off sequence and all screwed up on tire strategy there at the end with all the cautions and guys coming for four and two, and we were able to take advantage of that on that last caution, get four tires, and starting on the inside was terrible,” Earnhardt said of the race. “I would lose five, six spots down there trying to get going on the inside, and finally that last restart we started 18th but we were on the outside and we were ninth by the time we come back around for the first lap under green.  Just really important to get that outside restart, and we weren't getting it there near the end, so we were just going backwards.”

Battling for the win, Joe Logano and Denny Hamlin were involved in a last-lap crash, taking them both out of contention. Hamlin’s car hit the infield guard wall head-on and he is expected to miss six weeks with a compression fracture in his lower back.

Junior has recently lost 20 lbs. and seems re-energized for competition.  (Harold Hinson for Chevrolet)