NASCAR

Earnhardt Jr. endured tough run

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team works on his car at Martinsville.
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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for FOXSports.com. She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.

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MARTINSVILLE, Va.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost the handle on his car – and the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday.

His 24th-place finish dropped Earnhardt to third in the standings, 12 points behind new leader, and race winner, Jimmie Johnson.

Earnhardt ran as high as fourth on Lap 85, but fought a tight condition throughout the race. While he was still running in the top 10 at the halfway point of the race, his car quickly deteriorated throughout the second half.

Just after the 10th caution, Earnhardt lined up 21st with Danica Patrick just ahead of him. Earnhardt was battling to get back on the lead lap and tangled with Patrick coming out of Turn 2. As Brian Vickers attempted to pass her going through Turns 3 and 4, he slid up into Patrick and sent her into Earnhardt -- and Earnhardt spinning.

Earnhardt attempted to gather up the car and continue when race leader and eventual winner Johnson passed him and put his No. 88 a second lap down.

“We know who our friends are out here,” said Earnhardt, who then restarted 24th, the same position in which he finished.

Tagged: Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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