Dale Earnhardt Jr. took his fourth win of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season Sunday night, winning the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. The race, which was delayed from day to night by rain, was called 93 laps early due to deteriorating weather conditions.
Earnhardt set himself up for success by coming to pit road for fuel and tires just one lap before Joey Gase and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came together to bring out the second caution flag of the race on Lap 196. He beat Kevin Harvick in the race off pit road, and was shuffled to the front of the pack for the restart after the rest of the field decided to pit under caution.
But before the green flag could come back out, the rain again descended upon Phoenix and NASCAR was forced to call the race. That decided the final running order, with Earnhardt in first, Harvick in second and Team Penske’s Joey Logano in third.
“We had an idea that the rain was in the area, but all the circumstances that played out at the end of the race are just kind of luck, I think,” Earnhardt told NASCAR.com post-race. “I want to give (crew chief) Greg (Ives) a lot of credit, and the guys.”
“They gave us a good enough car to come here and qualify well (third),” he added. “I think the reason why we won this race is because of the way we qualified to give ourselves a position to be up front all night. When something like this quirky happens we were able to capitalize. It’s a rain-shortened win, but my guys are very proud of it because of how the car ran all weekend and we put ourselves in this position.”
With the result, Harvick secured his spot in the final round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, who turned up fourth Sunday, also secured a Chase spot along with Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr., who was 14th. Carl Edwards (12th), Brad Keselowski (8th), Kurt Busch (7th) and Logano, meanwhile, were knocked out of Chase contention.
Those three Chase drivers, in addition to Jeff Gordon, will battle it out for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship and Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend. In the meantime, you can view full results from Phoenix at this link and check out the quick race recap video just below.