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. NASCAR AMERICA: NASCAR returns to Indianapolis

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:09 PM EDT

    (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

    On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA, Jeff Burton joined the crew to discuss what makes racing in the Brickyard 400 unique. Burton says NASCAR is a guest at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway due to the history IndyCar has made at the track.

  2. NASCAR AMERICA: Sam Hornish Jr. explains what it takes to win at the Brickyard

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT

    (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images) Getty Images

    On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA and in preparation for this week’s Brickyard 400, Leigh Diffey talked with 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. on what it was like to win the third closest finish in race history. Hornish also discussed some of the keys that drivers will need to succeed at the Brickyard 400.

  3. Tony Stewart: ‘Definitely feasible’ to have Sprint Cup, Nationwide race at Eldora

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:52 PM EDT

    (Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After two years of huge success with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing at his Eldora Speedway, Tony Stewart would love to eventually see the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series come to his little half-mile track, as well.

  4. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 pm ET — Eldora highlights, Brickyard surprises and history

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    140724-nascar-america

    On Thursday’s NASCAR AMERICA, Leigh Diffey is the in-studio host and is joined by Sam Hornish Jr. (2006 Indy 500 winner and current Nationwide Series driver and winner of the 2014 Iowa Nationwide race).

  5. Paul Menard offers ride-alongs for Make-A-Wish/Indy Racing Experience this week

    Jul 24, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Indy Racing Experience has partnered with Make-A-Wish® Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana to enhance two wishes during the Kroger Brickyard Super Weekend that takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway July 24-27, 2014.

  6. IndyCar: RHR earns second quarter Driver of the Year award

    Jul 24, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Ryan Hunter-Reay AP

    Ryan Hunter-Reay earns another award after his Indianapolis 500 win.

  7. Button pleased with McLaren progress; no word on 2015

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    McLaren driver no closer to deciding his future, but is happy with how things are going in recent weeks.

  8. PWC: Cindric, Bove to race for charity at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    SOWF

    Pirelli World Challenge President/CEO Scott Bove and 15-year-old rising star Austin Cindric to race a GTS Ford Mustang Boss for charity at Mid-Ohio weekend.

  9. Sutil feeling confident about Hungary and his F1 future

    Jul 24, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    Sauber driver pleased with his pace in Germany, and cares little for the question marks about his future.

  10. Pirelli confirms tire allocations up to Singapore

    Jul 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Previews Getty Images

    Italian tire supplier confirms its selections for the Belgian, Italian and Singapore Grands Prix.

  11. Report: Deal for Marcos Ambrose’ return to Australia to race V8 Supercars for Roger Penske may be close

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:54 PM EDT

    (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

    While it’s seemed Marcos Ambrose was a lock to return to Richard Petty Motorsports, especially with all the positive things he’s said about wanting to stay in recent weeks and months, a report Thursday has Ambrose leaving NASCAR after this season and returning to his native Australia to race V8 Supercars — potentially for a new team owned by iconic American race team owner Roger Penske.

  12. Alonso: Raikkonen having the same difficulties as me

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Canadian F1 Grand Prix Getty Images

    Ferrari driver has few qualms about Kimi’s difficulties in 2014.

  13. Former Brickyard 400 winner Bobby Labonte to compete in Sunday’s race for Tommy Baldwin Racing

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT

    bobby labonte Getty Images

    Former Brickyard 400 winner Bobby Labonte will be returning to race at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway in this Sunday’s 21st running of the Brickyard.

  14. MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Hungarian GP

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    Our writing team makes its predictions for this weekend’s race at the Hungaroring.

  15. Alexander Rossi joins Marussia as reserve driver

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT

    © Marussia F1 Team © Marussia F1 Team

    American youngster joins Marussia as its official reserve driver with immediate effect.

  16. Massa still adamant that Germany crash was not his fault

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Race Getty Images

    Brazilian driver compares it to incident at the beginning of the Australian Grand Prix with Kamui Kobayashi.

  17. Bernie Ecclestone confirms Mexican GP for 2015

    Jul 24, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany Getty Images

    Formula 1 will return to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez next year for the first time since 1992.

  18. 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

    Jul 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    One final chapter to the first half of the 2014 F1 season at the Hungaroring this weekend, a track that has suited Lewis Hamilton very well over the years.

  19. IndyCar: Nearly the entire field set for Mid-Ohio test today

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 At Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Six teams, 17 cars set to test at Mid-Ohio ahead of IndyCar race there next week.

  20. Bubba Wallace dominates to win MudSummer Classic at Eldora (updated)

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

    Darrell Wallace Jr. AP

    Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. and Kyle Larson put on a spectacular battle in the final 40-lap segment of Wednesday’s second MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, but it was Wallace holding on for the win.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

Brickyard 400 is 'a big deal'

Featured video

Inside scoop with Adrian Sutil
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches