By admin | September 14, 2008
By Richard Allen
The Sylvania 300 looked like it may follow what has become an all to familiar pattern for Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Junior started off strong. He took the lead early of the race and pulled away from the competition. That does not sound like a bad thing but many of the popular driverâ€™s fans had to be concerned that their favorite might be headed down a the same path as so many other races this season.
On other occasions, Junior has looked like the man to beat in the first half of several races only to fade later and finish outside the Top 5 and sometimes even outside the Top 10.
Then, just after halfway, as if on cue, the #88 car began to fade back into the field. He dropped as far as 8th place and his poor handling car looked as if it might fall even farther.
However, after a pit stop the Tony Eury Jr. led Hendrick Motorsports team seemed to find a remedy and reversed the recent trend.
Rather than fading to somewhere between 11th and 15th, Junior rebounded.
Although he never got back to the front of the pack, Earnhardt held his own within the Top 5. He wound up with a 5th place finish. That finish placed him 4th in the overall standings, just 50 points behind co-leaders Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson.
Junior, his crew chief and his team have been criticized often this year, even by their own fans, for letting good finishes slip away. On this occasion, the team rallied and held on to a solid result which kept them very much alive in the Chase for the Championship.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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