Sep 29, 2013, 7:12 PM EST
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.”
Nov 20, 2014, 8:29 PM EST
Joey Logano on a turnaround and breakout season.
Nov 20, 2014, 6:37 PM EST
After a month of voting and more than 350 ballots cast by their peers on all Sprint Cup teams, the top pit crew members and overall pit crews of 2014 were announced Thursday.
Nov 20, 2014, 5:56 PM EST
The No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing team dodged a bullet Thursday when NASCAR announced less severe than expected penalties for unapproved rear suspension parts found last weekend at Homestead.
Nov 20, 2014, 4:24 PM EST
All the latest from the ground in Abu Dhabi from NBCSN’s Will Buxton in this week’s “Paddock Pass.”
Nov 20, 2014, 4:18 PM EST
TV times, title outlooks for this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Nov 20, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
Big night of F1 on NBC from 7 p.m. ET.
Nov 20, 2014, 3:09 PM EST
If you like wild, crazy and unpredictable, you won’t want to miss Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America, airing LIVE at 5 pm ET on NBCSN.
Nov 20, 2014, 2:31 PM EST
In this edition of NASCAR Minute, Rick Allen and Kyle Petty talk about the wackiest things they saw this race season.
Nov 20, 2014, 2:30 PM EST
After his departure from Ferrari was announced today, Alonso drops the biggest hint yet that he will be driving for McLaren in 2015.
Nov 20, 2014, 2:21 PM EST
What would the final 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup point standings look like if there had been no Chase format? Would Kevin Harvick still have finished No. 1? You might be surprised.
Nov 20, 2014, 1:00 PM EST
New paint scheme for Danica Patrick’s No. 10 in 2015.
Nov 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Gunning for his second world championship, Hamilton can be sure of the title by finishing second in Abu Dhabi – but will the pressure get to him?
Nov 20, 2014, 11:35 AM EST
How will Will Stevens’ debut go? He’s in a rare spot, making an in-season debut.
Nov 20, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
A few little things to look out for during this weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi.
Nov 20, 2014, 10:45 AM EST
Kasey Kahne’s arrival shouldn’t change the arrival of Chase Elliott at Hendrick Motorsports, but it may change the date.
Nov 20, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
Mexican driver admits trying to take a step down out of a race seat for 2015 is a risk, but feels it is the best move for his future.
Nov 20, 2014, 10:15 AM EST
Matthew Brabham replaces Charles Pic in FE this weekend.
With Vettel, Alonso, Mercedes and Renault all on the move, Abu Dhabi will mark the end of an era in F1
Nov 20, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and Lotus will be very different teams in 2015.
Nov 20, 2014, 9:50 AM EST
Kasey Kahne re-ups with Hendrick for three more years.
Nov 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EST
Mexican driver all but certain to stay with Force India for 2015, with the finer details of his contract being ironed.
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