Earnhardt does it again

Dale Earnhardt Jr., with a charge reminiscent of his late father, shot from 11th to first in the final five laps and won Sunday's EA Sports 500 at Talladega Speedway. Earnhardt gained his fifth victory of the season and took over the points lead with seven races to go

Earnhardt does it again

Earnhardt restarted 11th after a final round of gas-and-go stops, which began under green and with caution coming out with many in the pits. The final restart came on Lap 184, with five laps to go. Brendan Gaughan and Terry Labonte, who had decided to risk skipping the final refuel, led at the green flag.

Kevin Harvick, who had challenged Earnhardt strongly before the final stops, swept by Gaughan to the lead, with a boost from team-mate Robby Gordon. Earnhardt, seemingly without help, darted twice to the inside, getting to fourth place on Lap 185. He swept by Dale Jarrett and Gordon and nosed in behind Harvick, then took the lead with a burst to the outside on Lap 186.

Two wrecks on the last lap did not slow the action, with NASCAR holding back the yellow flag. Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne crashed on the backstretch, behind the action for the lead. At the finish line, Elliott Sadler, running in the teens, got turned and flipped, crashing on his roof before coming to rest on all fours past the chequered flag. Sadler was not hurt.

Earnhardt's charge was reminiscent of Dale Sr.'s dramatic dash from 18th to victory over the final five laps of the race here in fall 2000, Senior's last victory. Earnhardt Sr. died in a wreck at the Daytona 500 in February 2001.

It was a masterful piece of work by Junior, who has won five of the past seven races here. He led 78 of the 188 laps and seized the points lead by 13 over Kurt Busch, who finished fifth. Jeff Gordon, who had led the points coming out of Dover, was caught in the confusion of the final pit stops and finished 19th, falling 61 out of the lead.

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