CONCORD, N.C. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the top finisher among his Hendrick Motorsports teammates in Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard/Chevy 100 Year Anniversary Chevrolet crossed the finish line 19th, and his teammates rounded out the top 37.
Handling was a constant focus for the four Hendrick teammates after the green flag dropped for Saturday’s race. The teams worked diligently to adjust the Chevrolets as the cooling temperatures affected the 1.5-mile speedway.
Once dialed in, Earnhardt was able to navigate the speedway and hold on for the 19th-place finish. He survived multiple late-race incidents to remain ranked ninth in the driver standings. Earnhardt trails leader Carl Edwards by 60 points.
Earnhardt’s teammates weren’t as fortunate during Saturday’s race. Mark Martin discovered an issue early with the front of his No. 5 GoDaddy.com/Chevy 100 Year Anniversary Chevrolet. Around Lap 150, Martin reported to the garage, where his team worked to repair the front wheel assembly on his car. He returned to the track on Lap 216, and he finished the race running 37th.
Jeff Gordon rallied from a midrace incident, which temporarily sidelined his No. 24 Drive to End Hunger/Chevy 100 Year Anniversary Chevrolet on Saturday. On Lap 293, Gordon was racing David Ragan and Kasey Kahne for the fifth, sixth and seventh positions when the incident unraveled. Gordon’s crew worked quickly to make the necessary repairs, and he was able to salvage a 21st-place finish. Gordon now ranks 11th in the driver standings.
Jimmie Johnson was running seventh with fewer than 20 laps to go when the driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/Chevy 100 Year Anniversary Chevrolet was involved in an incident. He had been racing with Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick for position. Johnson was scored 34th and now ranks eighth in the driver standings.
“That one stung for sure,” Johnson said. “I’m just thankful to have such safe race cars, safe walls. Everything did its job. That was a pretty big impact. It’s just unfortunate that we wrecked. We got into Turn 1, and the (No.) 39 was real tight on my outside, and it pulled me around the corner. From there on, I was just kind of hanging on."
“We just gotta go racing,” added Johnson, who is chasing his sixth straight championship. “That’s all there is to it. There’s still five races left and a lot can happen in those last five races. This is not going to help us win a sixth championship, but my team and myself, we just won’t quit. We’ll keep after it, and hopefully we’re still champions at the end of the year.”