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. WATCH: MAVTV 500 replay and INDYCAR championship celebration tonight, starting 8 p.m. ET

    Sep 2, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    MAVTV 500 Ð Day 1 Getty Images

    The Fontana race replay and championship celebration air tonight on NBCSN from 8 p.m. ET through 11:30 p.m. ET.

  2. NASCAR AMERICA: Who can challenge Hendrick, Penske drivers in Chase? (VIDEO)

    Sep 2, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT

    Irwin Tools Night Race - Qualifying Getty Images

    NASCAR AMERICA’s Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman have their ideas on who can beat out NASCAR’s two strongest teams for a championship.

  3. NASCAR AMERICA: Kahne looking ahead to the Chase (VIDEO)

    Sep 2, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

    Oral-B USA 500 Getty Images

    The newest Chase-bound driver chats with NBCSN’s Marty Snider about his win on Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

  4. Everything you need to know for Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond

    Sep 2, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    Jeff Gordon AP

    400 miles. 2 Chase Grid spots. It all comes down to Saturday night.

  5. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA talks with Atlanta winner Kahne at 5 p.m. ET

    Sep 2, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sarah Glenn/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Coming up today: Beating the Hendrick/Penske bloc; Atlanta edition of “Scan All 43″; Kyle Busch’s continued struggles; the career of crew chief Jimmy Fennig.

  6. American driver Conor Daly loses GP2 ride with Venezuela GP Lazarus

    Sep 2, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    © GP2 Media © GP2 Media

    Daly confirms the tough news on his Twitter page, citing a “lack of funding” as the cause for his dropping.

  7. NASCAR: Turner Scott shuts down No. 30 team in Truck Series

    Sep 2, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT

    Pocono Mountains 150 - Practice Getty Images

    Ron Hornaday Jr. is out of a ride and 18 employees are out of a job.

  8. Fernando Alonso denies rumors of leaving Ferrari

    Sep 2, 2014, 2:45 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Practice Getty Images

    Alonso to Britain’s Sky Sports: “I want to win here and finish the job that we started some years ago, and we will see what the future [holds]“

  9. MRTI: Hargrove (Porsche GT3 Canada) and Burkett (Atlantic) capture other titles

    Sep 2, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT

    Green, Hargrove, Pigot. Photo: IMSA Green, Hargrove, Pigot. Photo: IMSA

    Mazda Road to Indy regulars Scott Hargrove and Daniel Burkett secure titles in Porsche GT3 Canada and Atlantic, respectively.

  10. Caterham GP2 team brings in Red Bull Junior Pierre Gasly for rest of 2014

    Sep 2, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Photo via @RedBullMotors Photo via @RedBullMotors

    Pierre Gasly, a Red Bull Junior, will join Caterham’s GP2 team for the rest of 2014.

  11. Your Chase clinch scenarios for Saturday’s regular season finale

    Sep 2, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Irwin Tools Night Race - Practice Getty Images

    Ryan Newman is the only Chase hopeful that controls his destiny going into Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 400.

  12. Mikhail Aleshin updates social media for first time since Fontana accident

    Sep 2, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT

    AleshinSunIMS Getty Images

    Mikhail Aleshin updates his social media pages for first time since scary Fontana accident on Friday night.

  13. Gene Haas’ F1 team changes team name, launches new pages

    Sep 2, 2014, 12:17 PM EDT

    Gene Haas Formula One Press Conference Getty Images

    What was Haas Formula is now Haas F1 Team as part of a new brand rollout.

  14. United Fiber & Data announces IndyCar return; capacity, driver TBD

    Sep 2, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Photo: INDYCAR Photo: INDYCAR

    United Fiber & Data looks set to return to IndyCar for 2015 and the foreseeable future.

  15. Cindric proposes IndyCar champion Will Power will run No. 1 in 2015

    Sep 2, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    WillNumber AP

    Team Penske president Tim Cindric all but confirms Will Power will run the No. 1 in 2015.

  16. MAVTV announces two-year IndyCar extension at Fontana; date TBD

    Sep 2, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    MAVTV 500 Getty Images

    MAVTV announces IndyCar’s return to Fontana for two more years through 2016, although official confirmation from the sanctioning body and a date remains to be revealed.

  17. NASCAR AMERICA: Kahne’s in Chase, but knows he and No. 5 team must improve (VIDEO)

    Sep 1, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Oral-B USA 500 Getty Images

    Kahne to NBCSN contributor Nate Ryan: “We need to build off of this…As a team, we need to be stronger together.”

  18. NASCAR AMERICA: Assessing Tony Stewart’s return at Atlanta (VIDEO)

    Sep 1, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Oral-B USA 500 Getty Images

    NASCAR AMERICA’S Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman believe that the three-time Sprint Cup champion handled himself well throughout a difficult weekend.

  19. F1: Sochi grandstand to be named for Toro Rosso rookie Kvyat

    Sep 1, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Qualifying Getty Images

    Organizers of the Russian Grand Prix appear to be getting behind their countryman as F1’s first visit to Sochi draws closer.

  20. NHRA: Four first-time U.S. Nationals winners crowned in Indianapolis

    Sep 1, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT

    DeJoriaWin AP

    Richie Crampton, Alexis DeJoria, Shane Gray and Eddie Krawiec captured U.S. Nationals wins on Monday.

Video from NASCAR America

Tony Stewart does well in return
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. K. Harvick (2202)
  2. J. Gordon (1989)
  3. T. Stewart (1652)
  4. M. Kenseth (1281)
  5. J. Logano (1220)