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Jeffrey Turns In Earnhardt-Like Performance

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 25 2019
Jeffrey Earnhardt survived a spin to go on to record a podium finish in the Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

CONCORD, N.C. – Under the scorching Carolina sun that sent temperatures soaring into the mid-90s, Jeffrey Earnhardt produced his best career finish Saturday in the Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a performance that would have earned a grin from his grandfather, seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt.

Battling the torrid heat that sent several drivers, including Earnhardt, to the infield care center after the NASCAR Xfinity race, the 29-year-old Earnhardt exhibited the type of grit that has become synonymous with his family name in corralling his third-place finish.

“I literally drove my guts out right there at the end,” Earnhardt said after emerging from the infield care center. “That’s all I had left in the tank.”

Earnhardt qualified his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota ninth, but hit the wall and spun in turn four on lap141 of the 200-lap race. That brought out the seventh caution flag.

“I kept (going) higher and higher (because) we kept getting better runs up there and making up time,” Earnhardt said in explaining the accident. “It was rough getting into the corner, the car bobbled a little bit, got loose and once you’re up there against the fence there is nowhere to chase it except into the wall.”

Earnhardt was now a lap down and had to fight his way back. When the race restarted on lap 178 following the ninth caution period Earnhardt was eighth. Five laps later the 10th and final caution period began. When the race returned to green with 15 laps remaining Earnhardt was sixth. After taking the checkered flag in third, Earnhardt climbed from his car and sat down beside it on pit road. Medical personnel attended to him before he stood up and moved to a cart that transported him to the infield care center.

“That was a hot, grueling race,” Earnhardt said. “I didn’t help by knocking the fence down and knocking the crush panels out of it. I didn’t get an IV. I was just a little dizzy. I came in here (infield care center) just to get checked out. I’m stubborn. I didn’t want to come in here, but I figured it was best to come in here and let them look at me, make sure I get cooled off and everything is good. But, man, it was hot! It was a rough one out there.”

Earnhardt said he was fortunate that his crew fixed the damaged car so he could race hard and get back on the lead lap.

“Once we got back on the lead lap and I realized our car still drove pretty damn good … we really had a hot rod there at the end,” Earnhardt said. “Not quite enough to win the race … but I’ve learned I have to be aggressive on restarts. The more aggressive you are on those restarts, the more take you do than giving, the better off you’re going to be.”

Richard Childress, the elder Earnhardt’s team owner for six of his seven championships, said he was “really proud” of the Mooresville, N.C., resident.

“I was so happy to see him really get a nice run,” Childress said after his driver Tyler Reddick won the event. “In the good equipment like he’s in, he’ll have a good shot at winning a race.”

For the race, the younger Earnhardt’s car carried the iK9 sponsorship and honored Mooresville K9 officer Jordan Harris Sheldon, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this month.

“Having Officer Sheldon’s name on the car meant a lot to me and I wanted to make him proud,” said Earnhardt, who didn’t personally know the officer. “I wasn’t about to lay down on the job and have him disappointed in me. Hopefully, he’s up there smiling down on us about our run.”

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

   1. (3)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 200.

   2. (6)  Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 200.

   3. (9)  Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, 200.

   4. (10)  Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 200.

   5. (35)  Justin Haley #, Chevrolet, 200.

   6. (8)  Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 200.

   7. (16)  Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 200.

   8. (12)  Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 200.

   9. (7)  Austin Cindric, Ford, 200.

   10. (5)  Brandon Jones, Toyota, 200.

   11. (37)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 200.

   12. (14)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Chevrolet, 200.

   13. (17)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 200.

   14. (19)  Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 200.

   15. (32)  Stephen Leicht, Chevrolet, 200.

   16. (28)  Ray Black II, Chevrolet, 200.

   17. (30)  Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 200.

   18. (21)  BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 199.

   19. (11)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 199.

   20. (25)  Brandon Brown #, Chevrolet, 198.

   21. (26)  Joey Gase, Toyota, 198.

   22. (29)  David Starr, Chevrolet, 198.

   23. (34)  Vinnie Miller, Chevrolet, 197.

   24. (2)  Cole Custer, Ford, 196.

   25. (24)  Ronnie Bassett Jr, Chevrolet, 195.

   26. (33)  Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 194.

   27. (22)  Josh Williams, Chevrolet, Suspension, 187.

   28. (4)  Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, Overheating, 186.

   29. (20)  Camden Murphy(i), Chevrolet, Front Hub, 173.

   30. (36)  Mason Diaz, Chevrolet, Accident, 100.

   31. (1)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 90.

   32. (31)  Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, Vibration, 58.

   33. (15)  Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 35.

   34. (13)  Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Handling, 31.

   35. (18)  Timmy Hill, Toyota, Engine, 17.

   36. (23)  Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, Vibration, 10.

   37. (27)  Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Brakes, 6.

   38. (38)  Chad Finchum, Toyota, Engine, 5.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  110.69 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 42 Mins, 37 Secs. Margin of Victory:  2.102 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  10 for 56 laps.

Lead Changes:  15 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Custer 1-16;C. Bell 17-49;B. Jones 50-71;T. Reddick 72-95;J. Nemechek # 96;C. Briscoe # 97-98;T. Reddick 99-104;N. Gragson # 105;T. Reddick 106-141;C. Custer 142;T. Reddick 143-158;C. Briscoe # 159-162;J. Nemechek # 163-165;T. Reddick 166-177;C. Custer 178-184;T. Reddick 185-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Tyler Reddick 6 times for 110 laps; Christopher Bell 1 time for 33 laps; Cole Custer 3 times for 24 laps; Brandon Jones 1 time for 22 laps; Chase Briscoe # 2 times for 6 laps; John Hunter Nemechek # 2 times for 4 laps; Noah Gragson # 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 00,1,19,2,20,23,39,7,9,98

Stage #2 Top Ten: 00,1,10,18,2,22,23,7,9,98

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 25 2019
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