Faced with must-win scenarios, Earnhardt, Johnson lead halfway at Talladega

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson – in must-win situations – have been among the top performers in Sunday’s Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

At the halfway point – 94 of 188 laps – Earnhardt is the leader, followed by Johnson, Casey Mears, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick in the top 10.

There’ve been 17 leaders in the first 94 laps.

At this juncture, if the race were to stop now – and barring any of the following four drivers winning today’s race – Denny Hamlin, Earnhardt, Johnson and Brad Keselowski would be eliminated from advancing to the Eliminator Round.

Surprisingly – both with this race’s significance and its locale – there’s only been one caution up to the midway point.

On Lap 59, Jamie McMurray appeared to have a cut tire that sent him turning left into the cars of Michael McDowell and Brad Keselowski. Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch were all collected in the aftermath.

However, all six cars suffered only minor to moderate damage and were able to continue, although Logano fell back the furthest, to 40th position.

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Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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