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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Finishes Fifth at Homestead After Contact With Berry

In his second and final NASCAR Xfinity Series start of the 2023 season, Dale Earnhardt Jr. sought to avenge a mechanical failure at Bristol Motor Speedway in September while he was running near the front of the field in the closing laps.

This weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Earnhardt started from the 23rd position and methodically made his way through the field in the early portion of the race despite an ill-handling car. When the checkered flag waved, Earnhardt had scored a solid fifth-place finish for his efforts.

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When asked if he was satisfied with his top-five run, Earnhardt said, “Heck yeah. I was wanting a top-10. The car was not doing what I wanted it to do, but we worked on it. I sent us the wrong way in the first Stage, at the first break. Once we got that going, and the guys figured out what we needed to do with the car, the car got better, and we ran good enough to run fifth.”

As the car got better, Earnhardt began to run right next to the outside wall, which presented the driver of the No. 88 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro with additional speed.

But the additional speed did come at a cost as Earnhardt slapped the wall a couple of times off of Turn 3 in the final Stage of the race.

However, the wall contact occurred right before the final round of pit stops, and the contact would not severely hamper his race car.

As Earnhardt settled in for the final stretch of the race, he briefly lost control of his car, and as he was trying to collect the handle on it, he made contact with his teammate and friend Josh Berry.

The contact with Earnhardt cut the tire down on Berry’s No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, which sent Berry into the outside wall, and it ended his race early. Here is a video of the incident between Earnhardt and Berry:

Earnhardt said he felt bad about the contact, which relegated Berry to a 32nd-place finish.

“The Josh Berry deal, man, I didn’t know he was out there,” Earnhardt stated. “My spotter was saying all of the right things, but what I was hearing was something different. So, I’ll put that on me.

“I got a little loose, but I corrected up the track like there was nobody there. Like I didn’t know — I thought the 8 was coming through the middle. When I got loose, I just gave myself a lot of room to chase it to the fence. There was a car out there, and I hit that 8. Sorry for that. Not the way I want to send Josh off, right? I want to send him off with a win.”

Initially, after the contact, Earnhardt radioed to his team that he felt he had a tire going down on his car as well, but under the caution for Berry’s crash, Earnhardt and his team were able to conclude that the tires were still up on the No. 88 machine, and Earnhardt went to work to secure the best finish he could.

“Luckily, it didn’t hurt our car and we were able to finish really good. So, I’m happy about it.”

That really good finish was a fifth-place run.

Earnhardt, 49, has turned back the clocks in his two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts this season.

The two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, in addition to his fifth-place run at Homestead, led 47 laps and had a solid top-five run going in the closing las at Bristol Motor Speedway last month when a fire broke out inside his car with just under 30 laps remaining in the race.

Earnhardt would be credited with a 30th-place finish in that race, but he was among one of the best in the field all race long.

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