Dale Jr. ends winless streak with suspenseful finish

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It finally happened.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag on Sunday, ending a 76-race winless streak and capturing his first points race victory since joining the Hendrick Motorsports team.

With 20 laps to go, crew chief Tony Eury Jr. took a gamble and decided not to pit the No. 88 for fuel, allowing Earnhardt to maintain his track position up front.

Earnhardt led with two laps to go when a caution caused by Sam Hornish Jr. added a green-white checkered finish.

"I was pretty sick. I was like, 'OK, we're done. I could make 200, but 202? We're in trouble,'" Eury said. "I told him as soon as the caution comes out, shut it off."

Nursing a dangerously low fuel supply, Earnhardt shut off his engine and coasted every chance he got until the race resumed.

After the restart, another caution came out which froze the cars at pace speed with Earnhardt out front. The No. 88 car barely had enough fuel to cross the finish line.

"We were either going to have enough or we weren't," said Earnhardt Jr. "It stumbled coming to the white flag. We were going to stumble to the finish. But they can write what they want, but we won one."

The car ran out of gas at the end of pit road and had to be pushed to Victory Lane by the pit crew.

Earnhardt Jr., who has four top-10 finishes at Kansas Speedway, was able to hold off the red hot Kasey Kahne. Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers and past Kansas Speedway winner Tony Stewart rounded out the top five.

Jr. and his No. 88 car make their way to Kansas Speedway on September 28 to compete in the Kansas 400, the third race in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Earnhardt Jr. likes his chances to win his first championship this year.

“I think I have real potential and the races specifically in the Chase are good tracks for me,” said Earnhardt Jr.

Kansas Speedway tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 866.460.RACE or logging onto www.kansasspeedway.com. Packages include tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kansas 400, (Sept. 28, 2008), the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300 (Sept. 27, 2008), the IndyCar Series Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 (April 26, 2009) and the NASCAR Truck Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 (April 25, 2009).

 

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