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. NASCAR AMERICA: Dale Earnhardt Jr. aims for better results in Chase (VIDEO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Coca-Cola 600 - Practice Getty Images

    “Driver 88″ discusses his performance issues in the Challenger Round with NASCAR AMERICA’s Rick Allen.

  2. NASCAR AMERICA: The strategy of the Contender Round (VIDEO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    Federated Auto Parts 400 Getty Images

    How do you prepare for two races and then a free-for-all at Talladega? Rick Allen and Kyle Petty of NASCAR AMERICA discuss.

  3. NASCAR: Nationwide Series crewman suspended for violating substance abuse policy

    Sep 30, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    nationwideserieslogo

    Also: Crew chief in same series fined, put on probation for car weight issue from last weekend at Dover.

  4. F1: 3rd-place battle between Williams and Ferrari heads for Suzuka

    Sep 30, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    Valtteri Bottas, Kimi Raikkonen AP

    Williams’ gap on Ferrari for third in the Constructors’ Championship is down to nine points going into this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

  5. WATCH LIVE: Dale Earnhardt Jr. talks Contender Round on NASCAR AMERICA

    Sep 30, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    AAA 400 - Qualifying Getty Images

    Also coming up today: A closer look at the Contender Round tracks and who’s been successful at them; Joe Gibbs Racing focusing on continued momentum at Kansas; more radio goodness with the Dover Chase edition of “Scan All 43.”

  6. IndyCar Driver Review: Mikhail Aleshin

    Sep 30, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    AleshinSunIMS Getty Images

    Sixteenth in the 2014 IndyCar season was rookie Mikhail Aleshin, ever the fighter.

  7. Formula E CEO Agag hopeful for several motor/battery manufacturers in 2015-16

    Sep 30, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    Photo courtesy FIA Formula E Photo courtesy FIA Formula E

    Agag hopes for “three or four different makers of motors and batteries” during F-E’s second season.

  8. IndyCar Driver Review: Justin Wilson

    Sep 30, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    JWilFinal2014 Getty Images

    P15 caps a difficult IndyCar season for Justin Wilson and Dale Coyne Racing.

  9. NASCAR: Corey Lajoie set for four-race run in No. 98 Nationwide Series car

    Sep 30, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT

    Sylvania 300 - Qualifying Getty Images

    The son of two-time Nationwide Series champion Randy Lajoie will race the upcoming NNS events at Kansas, Charlotte, Texas, and Homestead.

  10. IndyCar Driver Review: Charlie Kimball

    Sep 30, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Shell Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston - Day 3 Getty Images

    Charlie Kimball fights through an OK, but often challenging, 2014 season en route to P14 into the IndyCar standings.

  11. NASCAR: Roster set for October’s Drive for Diversity combine

    Sep 30, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT

    nascar logo 2014 Getty Images

    20 multicultural and female drivers from across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and South America will seek to earn a spot in the D4D’s Class of 2015.

  12. IndyCar: James Hinchcliffe presides over Charlie Kimball’s wedding

    Sep 30, 2014, 1:15 PM EDT

    Hinchcliffe Getty Images

    “The Mayor” has now apparently become The Minister.

  13. IndyCar: Penske drivers off to Verizon HQ; CFH ones to Mid-Ohio today

    Sep 30, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    MAVTV 500 Getty Images

    A busy day for members of two IndyCar teams, as Penske and CFH drivers head to New Jersey and Mid-Ohio, respectively.

  14. It’s been two years since Kobayashi’s Suzuka podium with Sauber (VIDEO)

    Sep 30, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Brazil - Previews Getty Images

    Two years ago, Kamui Kobayashi stood on an F1 podium in his home country, with Sauber. It seems so long ago, now.

  15. Stats of note heading into Suzuka

    Sep 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Sebastian Vettel AP

    Some of the stats of note as we head into the Japanese Grand Prix.

  16. IndyCar: What’s Honda’s next move, driver-wise?

    Sep 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Honda Indy Toronto - Day 1 Getty Images

    Honda has Ryan Hunter-Reay, but losing Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden are big blows from marketing and on-track standpoints.

  17. NASCAR AMERICA: Tony Stewart still shaken following fatal crash (VIDEO)

    Sep 29, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    Tony Stewart Press Conference Getty Images

    More comments from Stewart’s press conference on Monday in North Carolina.

  18. NASCAR AMERICA: Jeff Gordon, 24 team make statement at Dover (VIDEO)

    Sep 29, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    AAA 400 Getty Images

    Instead of racing to protect his position in the Chase, Jeff Gordon went into attack mode Sunday at Dover – and it paid off with a win. Check out his Victory Lane interview with NASCAR AMERICA’s Kelli Stavast here.

  19. Everything you need to know about the 2014 Chasers at Kansas

    Sep 29, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Kevin Harvick AP

    All the notes and numbers to keep in mind as the Contender Round begins on Kansas’ 1.5-mile oval.

  20. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA recaps Dover, Tony Stewart presser at 7 p.m. ET

    Sep 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    AAA 400 Getty Images

    Coming up: Highlights from the first cut race of the Chase; reports on Kevin Harvick’s tire failure and Hendrick Motorsports; Tony Stewart speaks about trying to carry on after his involvement in a fatal sprint car accident.

Video from NASCAR America

Gordon: Win was great team statement
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1604)
  2. K. Harvick (1391)
  3. K. Busch (1084)
  4. J. Coulter (978)
  5. R. Blaney (944)