Parks Pit Report: Eliminator Round, Race 1-Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500

What Chase?  Sure, there is no championship this year for Dale Earnhardt Jr, but he still knows how to win.

What Chase? Sure, there is no championship this year for Dale Earnhardt Jr, but he still knows how to win.

At the end of last week’s race at Talladega, another four drivers got eliminated from this season’s championship hunt.  This weekend was the beginning of what is considered the Eliminator Round of the new Chase Grid.

Eight drivers competing for the four prestigious spots in the championship race at the end of the season, that is what this round is about.

But for those drivers that have been taken out of the Chase after making their way in after 26 races, what are they to do once the yellow roof decal, windshield name plate and splitter fascia are taken off?

That’s simple:  win, even if it’s just for pride.

The opening race of the Eliminator Round was at the Martinsville Speedway, and probably was not a race that was not considered one that a non-Chase driver would win.  But then again, Dale Earnhardt Jr. isn’t exactly the typical non-Chase driver.  This track is one that he’s been very strong at on many occasions, but has not been able to close the deal and earn himself the big trophy for winning at the little track, which is a grandfather clock.

However, that all changed on Sunday.  Sure, the Chase drivers had their troubles and their successes.  But, the man that stole the thunder was the guy that won the Daytona 500, and then swept Pocono, another track he wanted to win at that had never been accomplished until this year.

The jubilation in victory lane was obvious and made everyone at least for a little while forget about the Chase and instead think about a great victory by a driver that has returned to success after many years of being a non-factor, and often an afterthought in competition.

According to Junior, he knew what was going to happen to celebrate the victory.

“We’re gonna drink a lot of beer,” he said in victory lane.  Once all the photos are done, and the post-race interviews are complete, there will be one huge party down at Whiskey River.  That even I can guarantee.

RESULTS:  1-Earnhardt Jr.  2-Gordon  3-Newman  4-Stewart  5-Logano  6-Kenseth  7-Bowyer  8-Hamlin  9-Allmendinger  10-Ragan

NOTABLE FINISHES:  20-Edwards  31-Keselowski  33-Harvick

CAUTIONS:  15 for 105 laps.  Lap 5-8 (#23 Spin-T2), 17-20 (#33, 98 Accident-T1), 76-81 (#32 Accident-T2), 161-168 (#5, 55 Accident-T4), 190-205 (#36 Spin-T2), 209-213 (#23, 34 Accident-T4), 222-226 (#2, 5, 55 Accident-T1), 229-238 (#4, 14, 20 Accident-T1), 256-260 (Debris-T1), 278-282 (#5, 55 Accident-T2), 295-299 (#10, 78 Accident-T2), 388-393 (#36 Accident-T1), 419-433 (Debris-FS), 438-442 (#2, 5, 10, 13, 78 Accident-FS; Red Flag-Lap 438, 11 Mins, 19 Secs), 490-495 (#9, 42 Accident-T3; Red Flag-Lap 491, 9 Mins, 19 Secs).

LEAD CHANGES:  24 among 11 drivers.  McMurray 1-8, Kenseth 9, McMurray 10-77, Gilliland 78, McMurray 79-84, Gordon 85-167, McMurray 168-169, Gordon 170-191, Earnhardt Jr. 192-204, Kenseth 205, Earnhardt Jr. 206-212, Logano 213-256, Allgaier 257-260, Stewart 261-274, Logano 275-290, Hamlin 291-296, Earnhardt Jr. 297-313, Kurt Busch 314-334, Gordon 335-358, Hamlin 359-420, Bowyer 421-453, Earnhardt Jr. 454-491, Gordon 492, Stewart 493-496, Earnhardt Jr. 497-500.

TIME OF RACE:  3 Hrs, 43 Mins, 7 Secs.

AVERAGE SPEED:  70.725 MPH

MARGIN OF VICTORY:  0.344 Seconds

CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP:  1. Gordon, 4044 points; 2. Newman, -3; 3. Logano, -4; 4. Kenseth, -5; 5. Hamlin, -7; 6. Edwards, -20; 7. Keselowski, -31; 8. Harvick, -33; 9. Kyle Busch, -1814; 10. Allmendinger, -1846; 11. Earnhardt Jr, -1848; 12. Johnson, -1858; 13. Biffle, -1866; 14. Kahne, -1871; 15. Kurt Busch, -1889; 16. Almirola, -1920.

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