Skip to content

Somber-looking Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 10th-place finish just isn’t good enough anymore

Jul 13, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT

(Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. looked like he had just gone through the roughest workout of his career.

When TNT cameras caught up with him after his 10th-place finish in Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Earnhardt’s face was not only red, he seemed short of breath, looked significantly frustrated and exasperated – and appeared almost on the verge of tears.

Which is odd because with his 10th-place finish, Junior officially clinched his berth for the upcoming revamped and expanded Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“That was frustrating,” Earnhardt said with a somber look on his face. “That was the hardest I’ve ever worked for a 10th-place finish.

“It’s been a real frustrating weekend, to be honest. The guys worked real hard, Steve (crew chief Steve Letarte) and the engineers did their best to get the car more competitive, but just to be lacking that much speed against a lot of guys and I had to drive so perfect every lap, it was just so frustrating.”

With wins in the season-opening Daytona 500 and last month at Pocono, Earnhardt can take solace that there’s no way he can miss the Chase now.

But still, Earnhardt did not take Sunday’s finish easily. It might be because a 10th-place finish in the fall Chase return to New Hampshire very well might not be good enough to advance to the second or third elimination rounds of the 10-race playoff.

“I don’t know, man, I wish we were better,” Earnhardt said. “We’re going to have to come back here (in the fall Chase race) and run better to have a shot at the Chase. But, we’ll keep working. Tenth-place: I’m really disappointed.”

At the same time, Earnhardt’s demeanor and appearance said a lot about how far he’s come and how much he’s grown this season as a Sprint Cup driver.

Whereas in many of his previous 14 Sprint Cup seasons, he’d have been happy to have just finished in the top 15 or 20.

But if he’s not contending for a win now, it’s simply not good enough for Junior.

“I remember when we used to like these (10th-place finishes),” Earnhardt said.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. IndyCar notes: Rahal’s questionable penalty, one-off drivers, rookies have tough days

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT

    KimballRahal AP

    Catching up on the rest of the action from St. Petersburg, with a run through the moments of contact that triggered avoidable contact penalties.

  2. The Rolling Stones to hit IMS on July 4

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT

    StonesIMS

    Rolling Stones to play at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

  3. Spectator injured but in stable condition after being hit by debris at St. Pete race

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT

    StpDebris AP

    Loose debris hit by a car, then goes over wall and hits a fan outside Turn 10 at St. Petersburg.

  4. Hawksworth, Filippi score solid top-10s to open season at St. Petersburg

    Mar 30, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    HawkStp15 AP

    Hawksworth, Filippi impress on opening outings with their new teams in St. Petersburg.

  5. Experience trumps youth on IndyCar’s opening weekend with aero kits

    Mar 30, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    JPMSTPwin AP

    IndyCar’s “old guard” reigned in St. Petersburg, as the new manufacturer aero kits debuted.

  6. Moto GP: Rossi wins opening-round thriller in Qatar

    Mar 30, 2015, 2:30 PM EDT

    MotoGP Qatar Getty Images

    Victory number 70 of the Italian’s remarkable Moto GP career.

  7. Ecclestone considering creation of all-female grand prix series

    Mar 30, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Malaysia - Practice Getty Images

    However, Williams test driver Susie Wolff believes that women should be reaching F1 in a more organic way.

  8. IndyCar: Bourdais opens strong for KVSH; Coletti impresses despite late stop for KV

    Mar 30, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    SebStp AP

    KVSH’s Bourdais gets result after a consistent drive; KV’s Coletti stars but fades after late race splash-and-dash for fuel.

  9. St. Petersburg notes: Alberico, Eidson, Beretta, Jenner score Sunday wins

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Photo: Pro Mazda Photo: Pro Mazda

    Pro Mazda, USF2000, Pirelli World Challenge, SST roundup from St. Petersburg.

  10. Chevrolet teams dominate IndyCar’s season opener, new aero kit era

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    ChevySTPdomination AP

    Chevrolet aero kits dominate on debut at St. Petersburg.

  11. Ericsson frustrated to spin out early in Malaysia

    Mar 30, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    Marcus Ericsson AP

    Swedish driver was fighting in the points before spinning off into the gravel on lap three in Malaysia.

  12. Wolff surprised by Ferrari win, but defends Mercedes strategy calls

    Mar 30, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Australian F1 Grand Prix - Previews Getty Images

    Wolff defends the decision to fit Lewis Hamilton with hard tires at his final pit stop.

  13. NHRA: Jack Beckman (54 races), Larry Morgan (120 races) snap lengthy winless streaks in 4-Wide Nationals

    Mar 29, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    nhra four-wide nationals

    Jack Beckman (Funny Car) and Larry Morgan (Pro Stock) broke lengthy winless streaks in Sunday’s finals of the 4-Wide Nationals in Concord, N.C.

  14. Montoya’s evolution evident after statement victory in St. Pete

    Mar 29, 2015, 8:40 PM EDT

    JPMSTPwin2 AP

    The year-on-year evolution of JPM showcases a driver still getting even better.

  15. Jeans and Ice Cream: Will Power’s brother live tweets IndyCar season opener

    Mar 29, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Will Power, Will Power,

    Will Power’s brother brings the jokes while live tweeting Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

  16. Power dominates another St. Pete race from pole, but reflective post-race

    Mar 29, 2015, 7:53 PM EDT

    WillSTPwin AP

    Close but no cigar, but still a very good day for Will Power in the IndyCar opener at St. Petersburg.

  17. IndyCar: Tony Kanaan breaks up Penske’s quartet with third place finish

    Mar 29, 2015, 7:27 PM EDT

    Tony Kanaan Tony Kanaan

    Tony Kanaan earns second podium in a row while thwarting potential sweep by Penske.

  18. Montoya ekes out win in St. Petersburg season opener

    Mar 29, 2015, 5:57 PM EDT

    JPMSTPwin AP

    Juan Pablo Montoya emerges up front after beating teammate Will Power on pit stops, and then holds off a final challenge.

  19. Will Power, debris dominate halfway through Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

    Mar 29, 2015, 5:14 PM EDT

    Will Power, Will Power,

    Will Power led a caution filled Grand Prix of St. Petersburg after 55 laps.

  20. Indy Lights: Ed Jones doubles up in St. Petersburg

    Mar 29, 2015, 2:23 PM EDT

    Photo: Indy Lights Photo: Indy Lights

    Ed Jones wins again in St. Petersburg, to complete an Indy Lights weekend sweep.