Jeffrey Earnhardt Finishes 22nd at Talladega

Race Winner:  Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)               

Stage 1 Winner:  Ty Dillon of Germain Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner:  Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-55):

Started 33rd and finished 29th.

Earnhardt reported from the 28th position on lap two that the No. 81 Xtreme Racing Toyota Camry was so tight on exit that he was having to lift.

During the lap-10 incident that brought out the first caution of the race, the No. 81 received damage to the nose and right-side fender.

Earnhardt pitted under caution on lap 14 for repair work and was also given four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments to help with the tight-handling condition. The team received an uncontrolled tire penalty, forcing Earnhardt to start at the rear of the field in 36th.

The Mooresville native used the draft to patiently make his way up to the 28th position on lap 32 while still battling a tight-handling Toyota Camry.

Earnhardt went one lap down to the race leader on lap 46 while riding in the 26th position.

On lap 51, Earnhardt said he was running out of fuel and needed to pit with just four laps left in the stage. The team gave him fuel only to ensure he would not lose another lap.

At the end of Stage 1, Earnhardt pitted for four tires, fuel, tape on the grille and an additional chassis adjustment. He was forced to restart from the tail end of the longest line, in 33rd, for pitting when pit road was closed.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 56-110):     

Started 33rd and finished 28th.

After restarting from 33rd and in the company of fellow Toyota drivers Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin, Earnhardt was able to quickly advance to the 27th position, making him the first car one lap down.

On lap 78, Earnhardt relayed to the team that he was still too tight and it was getting hard to stick to the bottom line in the corners.

Earnhardt, running in 28th, brought the Xtreme Racing Toyota Camry to pit road under green on lap 92 for fuel and chassis adjustments.

At the conclusion of Stage 2, Earnhardt was named the “Lucky Dog” as the first car one lap down. He pitted for four tires, fuel and additional adjustments to continue to loosen up his Toyota Camry. He was placed back on the lead lap to restart 24th.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 111-188):

Started 24th and finished 22nd.

Now lined up with the faster cars in the field, Earnhardt jumped up to 21st on lap 118 as side-by-side racing continued for the next 13 laps.

Under the fourth caution of the day on lap 131, Earnhardt said the Xtreme Concepts Racing Toyota Camry was still aero-tight on exit. He pitted from 27th for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.

Earnhardt restarted from the 20th position on lap 136 and moved up to 16th on lap 137.

On lap 150, the fourth-generation driver jumped to the top line to lead a group to the front, propelling him into the top-10.

He reached the sixth position before having to make a green-flag stop on lap 154 for right-side tires and fuel. Earnhardt restarted 25th as most of his competitors made fuel-only stops.

Riding in a pack of four cars 19 seconds behind the lead pack, Earnhardt was unable to gain any ground before the fifth caution of the race on lap 183 and a subsequent red flag.

Once the red flag was lifted the No. 81 team pitted for four tires and fuel, and restarted 21st.

Earnhardt once again charged toward the top-10 before getting caught in a last-lap incident that prevented him from completing the race.

 

Notes:              

Earnhardt’s 22nd place finish in today’s GEICO 500 marked the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series result for XCI Racing.

● Chase Elliott won the GEICO 500 to score his fourth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Talladega.

● There were six caution periods for a total of 21 laps.

● Only 21 of the 40 drivers in the GEICO 500 finished on the lead lap.

● Kyle Busch remains the championship leader after Talladega with a 15-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.

 

Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Racing Toyota Camry:

“Today was a tough day for the Xtreme Concepts team. I was tight all day, and we’d start to make progress on it with the adjustments, but by the end of the race it was worse than it had been all day. I really thought in the last laps we were going to come out of here with a top-10 finish. There was just nothing I could do to save it there. I took a hit from the side and then I saw the 42 barrel-rolling. I’m just glad it wasn’t worse. That’s Talladega, though, you never know what you’re going to get. We had two great cars this weekend and ran well in both. We’ll look back on what we learned today and be ready to give it another shot when we come back for the Cup race in the fall.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Gander RV 400 on Sunday, May 5 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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Speedway Digest Staff

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