Dale Earnhardt Jr. Survives To Win His Fourth Victory At Richmond International Racewayby Hunter Thomas April 23, 2016
RICHMOND, Va. – For the first time in his career, Dale Earnhardt Jr. won a race in a JR Motorsports car after earning the victory in Saturday’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway.
Earnhardt Jr. has now won four of the last six NASCAR XFINITY Series events that he has competed in at the raceway. Prior to Saturday, the last time that he went to Victory Lane in a NASCAR XFINITY Series races was all the way back in July of 2010 at Daytona International Speedway. On Saturday at Richmond, he started third and led 128 laps en route to the victory.
“On the long run there, I didn’t think we were great at the start of the race, and in our heat race I didn’t think we were really as good as we needed to be, but we didn’t do much to our car,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We maybe tightened it up a little bit to help the drive off, but on that first run, which ended up being a really long one, we just had such great speed at the end.”
The ToyotaCare 250 main event went 126 laps before the first caution was thrown. On lap 127, NASCAR through the yellow flag for an accident that involved Erik Jones and Mike Harmon. As Harmon exited Turn 2, he got loose, and Jones got into the back of him, spinning him down the backstretch.
“It’s unfortunate, it’s not like I wanted to wreck the guy,” Jones said. “Just really a racing accident off of (turn) two. Hopefully I can talk to him again next week, I was pretty upset at the moment that he came to talk to me. Would like to talk to him and sort things out, but a racing incident overall and something hopefully we can get worked out.”
The field received the green flag with only seven laps to go, and on the restart, all chaos broke loose as the leaders entered Turns 1 and 2. Brennan Poole made contact with Justin Allgaier’s left rear, and as a result, Allgaier, who was the leader at the time went spinning through Turn 1. The leaders scattered and by the time the accident had finished, nine cars had been involved, including Joe Gibbs Racing’s Erik Jones and Matt Tifft.
“I knew Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) was probably going to get to the inside of the 48 (Brennan Poole) as bad as a start he got,” Allgaier said. “When we got down into (turn) one – I think he was probably trying to be as aggressive as he could be to hold the position, and he just got into our left rear corner panel and turned us around. It sucks because you know to run that well all day and to not have nothing to show for it.”
After the carnage was cleaned up, the race went into overtime. Dale Earnhardt Jr. restarted on the inside with Ty Dillon on the outside. By the time the leaders made it out of Turn 2 and over the Overtime Line, Dale Earnhardt had a commanding lead and set sail for the victory.
Finishing second was Ty Dillon, who earned a $100,000 bonus for winning this weekend’s Dash 4 Cash. Elliott Sadler finished third, and Daniel Suarez and Austin Dillon rounded out the top-five. Cole Custer in his series debut finished sixth. Brendan Gaughan, Blake Koch, Brad Keselowski and Brennan Poole completed the top-10.
Daniel Suarez leads the championship point standings by nine over Elliott Sadler. Ty Dillon is third, 19 points back from the lead.
Up next on the schedule for the NASCAR XFINITY Series is the Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, April 30. Coverage for the race will broadcast live on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 3 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Wayne Thomas