Skip to content

Pit road problems hamper runner-up Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Sep 29, 2013, 7:12 PM EDT

Dale Earnhardt Jr. AP

With finishes of sixth and second in the last two Chase races, Dale Earnhardt Jr. appears to have put the blown engine he sustained in the post-season opener at Chicagoland behind him. But the Hendrick Motorsports driver was still frustrated about coming up just short to teammate Jimmie Johnson in the final laps today at Dover International Speedway.

Two mishaps in the pits during the AAA 400 didn’t do anything to help him, either. On Lap 117, Earnhardt was leading the race by almost four seconds but missed the entrance to pit road under green and was forced to roll around the Monster Mile one more time. The sequence wound up knocking him back to eighth.

Later on, Earnhardt inherited the lead from Johnson with 90 laps remaining in the 400-lap event. But when he ducked in for service three laps later, he was forced to slow down for Mark Martin, who was also making his way to the pits. When the cycle of stops ended, he had been shuffled to fourth.

To Earnhardt, however, it was the earlier incident that played the bigger role in why he was unable to win.

“If you really look at the race as a whole, they did cost us a little bit, at least the mistake I made missing pit road completely,” he said. “We had the lead, gave up the lead. Jimmie had the lead and was able to take advantage of that clean air when it counted.

“If I had not given up that track position, had a smart enough race to keep the lead when it counted right at the end, we might have won the race. It would have been hard to get by us, just like it was to get by Jimmie. I think missing the commitment cone was a big factor in us not finishing one spot ahead of where we are.”

Earnhardt was still able to jump to second off the final restart with 26 laps left after pitting under yellow for four tires. But it was not enough to beat Johnson, who managed to win after taking two tires on his last stop.

In Earnhardt’s mind, he simply ran out of time.

“I felt like as we got the [lapped] traffic, Jimmie was starting to struggle a little bit in the last couple of laps,” he said. “My car actually got better the longer I ran and drove better, did what I needed it to do in the corner as we ran.

“It wasn’t quite clicking just yet. Our car was starting to come around. I think the difference in the tires between our two cars was about to show. But the race is 400 laps. That’s the way it is. They did a good job.”

Latest Posts
  1. Jamin (USF2000), Cooper (PWC GTS) win first two races of weekend at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 31, 2015, 6:39 PM EDT

    Photo: Tony DiZinno Photo: Tony DiZinno

    Jamin, Cooper emerge victorious to kick off the weekend at Mid-Ohio.

  2. Nasr: Sauber must remain patient for updates

    Jul 31, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Getty Images

    Nasr calls on the team to make it through a rough patch ahead of the next raft of updates in Belgium.

  3. Dixon fastest on Friday at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 31, 2015, 4:35 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    The Mid-Ohio dominator tops Friday practice in 2015.

  4. Verstappen joins sim racing team to complement F1 duties

    Jul 31, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 26:  Max Verstappen of Scuderia Toro Rosso and The Netherlands during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Verstappen joins Team Redline’s sim racing roster in a bid to keep sharp when not on the track.

  5. Friday Mid-Ohio news and notes: Walker fallout, Honda update, an extra Sonoma car?

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:57 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Some news and notes from the paddock at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

  6. Formula E team names revealed for season two; Trulli yet to confirm line-up

    Jul 31, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT

    Nextev TCRs German driver Nelson Piquet JR (C) drives during the final race of the 2015 FIA Formula E London ePrix championship at Battersea Park in London, England, on June 28, 2015. AFP PHOTO / IAN KINGTON        (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    We round up all of the latest news and developments in Formula E ahead of pre-season testing next month.

  7. Hakkinen: Vettel a danger to Mercedes in title fight

    Jul 31, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    xxxx during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Getty Images

    With victory in Hungary, Vettel closed the gap at the top to 42 points – but can he catch Lewis Hamilton and challenge for a fifth world title?

  8. Bourdais quickest in opening practice at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 31, 2015, 12:07 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    First blood to Bourdais in practice at Mid-Ohio ahead of Power and Newgarden.

  9. Hinchcliffe undergoes final surgery, now “can’t wait to be strapping back in”

    Jul 31, 2015, 10:24 AM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Hinchcliffe’s recovery continues following his accident in practice for the Indy 500 back in May.

  10. Gutierrez working hard to get back on F1 grid in 2016 as Haas speculation continues

    Jul 31, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    MONTMELO, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24:  Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico and Ferrari looks on in the garage during a team filming day at Circuit de Catalunya on February 24, 2015 in Montmelo, Spain.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Gutierrez claims his work in a reserve role at Ferrari is helping to open up some new opportunities for 2016.

  11. With 2016 plans undetermined, Newgarden focused on finishing 2015 strong

    Jul 31, 2015, 8:42 AM EDT

    NewgyTORwin Getty Images

    Josef Newgarden’s future will become a talking point at some stage, but it appears it will be after the season.

  12. Tickets for German GP at Hockenheim to go on sale

    Jul 30, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT

    Mercedes-AMG's German driver and race winner Nico Rosberg (C) celebrates next to second placed Williams' Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas (L) and Mercedes-AMG's British driver Lewis Hamilton (R) after the German Formula One Grand Prix at the Hockenheimring racing circuit in Hockenheim, southern Germany, on July 20, 2014.     AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOF STACHE        (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Discounted tickets set to go on sale this Friday in a bid to improve attendance figures.

  13. Exploring what’s next for Derrick Walker as he announces he’s leaving IndyCar

    Jul 30, 2015, 4:48 PM EDT

    Photo: © INDYCAR Photo: © INDYCAR

    Derrick Walker on the prowl for whatever’s next in his long racing career.

  14. Power refusing to give up in IndyCar title defense

    Jul 30, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT

    © INDYCAR © INDYCAR

    Despite running fifth in the standings with three races to go, Power hasn’t given up on retaining the no. 1 for 2016.

  15. Drivers unfazed by longer F1 calendar in 2016

    Jul 30, 2015, 2:22 PM EDT

    xxxx during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 23, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary. Getty Images

    The 2016 F1 season is set to swell to a record 21 races.

  16. Ericsson pleased with first ten races at Sauber, but regrets missed opportunities

    Jul 30, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 26:  Marcus Ericsson of Sweden and Sauber F1 drives ahead of Felipe Nasr of Brazil and Sauber F1 during the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 26, 2015 in Budapest, Hungary.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Ericsson reflects on his first half-season with Sauber that has brought his first points in F1, but also presented some missed opportunities.

  17. MRTI: Seven races on tap for Indy Lights, Pro Mazda, USF2000 in critical weekend

    Jul 30, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    MazdaRoadToIndy

    With seven races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend, it’s an important one for the entire Mazda Road to Indy.