Sunday’s race at Richmond International Raceway brought split pit strategy for the Hendrick Motorsports teammates.
After a series of pit stops under caution, the first round of green-flag stops came around Lap 320 when most of the field, including Chase Elliott and Kasey Kahne, made a trip to pit road.
However, the other half of the Hendrick Motorsports team, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, stayed out of the pits and moved toward the front of the field in hopes of catching a caution flag at the right time.
Unfortunately, luck was not on their side and the caution flag did not come when they needed it.
“Obviously, we were trying a pretty wild strategy staying out,” Earnhardt shared. “I was pretty comfortable it was going to work because our lap times were pretty decent and everybody else was coming to us that had pitted. So, it wasn’t going to be too bad. Just terrible luck.”
Late in Sunday’s race at Richmond, Johnson and Earnhardt made contact.
“I was running the top right against the fence and really wasn’t watching the mirror, so I didn’t know he was there or anybody was coming," Earnhardt recalled.
Johnson said he did not realize Earnhardt was there and felt awful about the incident, which brought out a caution.
“I just feel terrible, obviously,” Johnson said. “That’s the last thing you want to have happen with a teammate.”
Following the incident, the Nos. 48 and 88 Chevrolets made pit stops to assess the damage. Thanks to quick work by their teams, both cars were resilient, allowing Johnson and Earnhardt to continue running laps.
Despite difficulties, Earnhardt was pleased with the run the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS had earlier in the race.
“We did make a lot of adjustments and that last run I was pretty happy,” he said. “We were probably going to finish anywhere around 10th to 15th today, not all that awesome, but we just had such terrible luck.”
KAHNE’S BATTLE AT RICHMOND
Kahne’s day at Richmond was a battle with the handling of his No. 5 AARP Foundation/Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS.
The first two pit stops of the race included adjustments to the car in an effort to make it more drivable for Kahne.
Later in the race, Kahne advanced to 12th in the field before his pit stop, hoping to improve upon the progress.
But even with a strong effort by the No. 5 team, Kahne’s day ended outside of the top 20.