Earnhardt overcomes struggles at Kentucky, Johnson blames pit stall

SPARTA, KY - JUNE 28: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
SPARTA, KY - JUNE 28:  Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
SPARTA, KY – JUNE 28: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2014 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

They may not have been in victory lane at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night, but the drivers for Hendrick Motorsports still managed an impressive finish as all four cars ended the night in the top 10.

Uncharacteristic of years past, Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the contingent. He started 29th but thanks to the timing of the final pit stops of the night, he found himself in third. On lap 215, Earnhardt followed Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman in for green flag stops. Just as the stop was completed, Aric Almirola smacked the turn four wall bringing out the sixth and final caution of the night. The lead group pitted and suddenly Earnhardt found himself third.  He didn’t have the speed to hold off eventual winner Brad Keselowski but was able to hold on and finish fifth.

The speed he found Saturday night was something not present during practice and qualifying the day prior. MORE>>>

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.