Dale Earn­hardt Jr. wins Rich­mond XFIN­ITY race in over­time

Cecil Whig - - 2 632576 - By REID SPENCER

NASCAR Wire Ser­vice

— Af­ter a mas­sive late-race wreck scram­bled the run­ning or­der in Satur­day’s Toy­otaCare 250, Dale Earn­hardt Jr. sur­vived a two-lap dash in over­time to win his first NASCAR XFIN­ITY Se­ries race since 2010 and the first in his own JR Mo­tor­sports equip­ment.

Earn­hardt held off Ty Dil­lon by .266 sec­onds in a main event that ran nine laps past its sched­uled dis­tance of 140 laps, but Dil­lon col­lected the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus avail­able to the two high­est


fin­ishes among XFIN­ITY Se­ries reg­u­lars from each of the two heats that pre­ceded the main event.

The vic­tory was Earn­hardt’s fourth at Rich­mond – his first at the .75-mile short track since 2002 – and the 24th of his ca­reer. Earn­hardt’s last win in the se­ries came in the July 2010 race at Day­tona in a No. 3 Chevrolet owned by Richard Chil­dress.

Earn­hardt has not driven the No. 3, the num­ber closely as­so­ci­ated with his fa­ther, since that vic­tory. On Satur­day, he drove the No. 88 Chevrolet in his last sched- uled start of the sea­son for JR Mo­tor­sports.

Though Earn­hardt led 128 of the 149 laps af­ter pass­ing Erik Jones for the top spot on Lap 18, the fi­nal two were a chal­lenge, with Dil­lon restart­ing be­side him for the two-lap over­time.

“Those last cou­ple of laps, we were real loose in the cor­ner,” Earn­hardt said. “I thought Ty was go­ing to get to me – he tried to get to me. When we got to (Turn 3), we drove into the cor­ner wide-open.”

But Dil­lon couldn’t pull even with Earn­hardt, who cleared Dil­lon’s No. 3 Chevy off Turn 4 on the first over­time lap.

“We came up a lit­tle short, but we’re go­ing to get one soon,” Dil­lon said.

Dil­lon wouldn’t have had a shot at the win at all, had a nine-car pileup on Lap 134 not bunched the field and ne­ces­si­tated the over­time.

The wreck came mo­ments af­ter a restart, with Bren­nan Poole lead­ing the field to the green. Poole had stayed out on old tires when Earn­hardt and the rest of the lead-lap driv­ers came to pit road for fresh rub­ber un­der cau­tion on Lap 127.

Earn­hardt restarted third be­hind Poole and JR Mo­tor­sports team­mate Justin All­gaier, but when Poole spun his tires, Earn­hardt dived to the in­side ap­proach­ing Turn 1, cre­at­ing a three-wide lead group. Af­ter side-by-side con­tact with Earn­hardt’s No. 88, Poole’s No. 48 Chevy washed up the track, clipped and turned All­gaier’s No. 7 and ig­nited a chain-re­ac­tion wreck that dam­aged three of the four cars el­i­gi­ble for the Dash 4 Cash bonus – those of Poole, All­gaier and Jones.

“When he spun the tires, I had to go to the in­side,” Earn­hardt said. “I tried not to drive up into him – I don’t think I got into him. They just kind of came to­gether up there (in the out­side lane) and had a heck of a wreck.

“I hate that it hap­pened, but, man, I had to do what I had to do to try to get the win. We ran so well and led all those laps.”

El­liott Sadler came home third, fol­lowed by se­ries leader Daniel Suárez, who leaves Rich­mond nine points ahead of Sadler in sec­ond. Austin Dil­lon ran fifth and Cole Custer sixth in Custer’s XFIN­ITY Se­ries de­but.

Poole brought his dam­aged car home in 10th.

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