Dale Earnhardt Jr represents a legacy of winning at Talladega but he fell short this past Sunday during the running of the Geico 500. Earnhardt needed a checkered flag in order to advance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Chase. After leading the race for 31 laps he eventually met the same number by finishing a disappointing 31st.
Caught in trouble
Earnhardt was caught up in a multi-car accident during the first of two green-white-checkered attempts which sealed his fate as he was trying to battle back to the lead after being shuffled back in the pack. Some could say that not making the finals of the chase should not matter too much. After all, the driver has has one heck of a season. Don't tell Earnhardt that.
The famed driver says that not making the chase does matter because of the hard work his team put into the season. The 2014 season has seen the driver mature and become appreciative of the teamwork involved with having a successful NASCAR race team. The sad thing with racing at Talladega is that sometimes you need more than a fast car.
"I'm not going to say it doesn't matter," Earnhardt said following the Geico 500 at Talladega.
"I don't want to discount the hard work our company puts in the engines and these (crew) guys put into the car, but … a great car gives you very little guarantee."
On being Eliminated
Earnhardt joins a couple of big names in NASCAR that are also on the list of the four drivers eliminated from Championship eligibility following Talladega. Two of them are his teammates. Both Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne failed to move onto the next round of the chase. The three Hendrick drivers were joined by Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch who say his chase dreams end when he was collected in a wreck during the early going.
According to Earnhardt, being eliminated is a disappointment but he realizes that he was not where he needed to be. The driver says that in order to win at Talladega the best place for a driver to be during late race restarts is somewhere near the top four cars and not stuck in the back.
"You need to be up front," Earnhardt said about the restarts and having an opportunity to win at Talladega Superspeedway.
"You need to be in the top four the last few restarts. Those are the guys that have a shot at it. You know you're not going to pass 10 or 12 cars there in six or seven laps. We tried. It just didn't work out."
Fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. may be a little blue following Talladega and their driver being eliminated. But, they can feel great about a turn-around season for the driver of the No. 88 car who has three wins on the season and who can still win a few more in the last four races.
In addition the driver left fans with a point to ponder following being eliminated from winning a NASCAR Championship. It's obvious from his statements that he feels his team members worked hard in their efforts for the Cup. When finishing his remarks Earnhardt came up with one of his classic laid back answers saying they would try again next year.
"There have probably been worse things," Earnhardt said about not being in the chase going forward. "I'm not retiring or anything, so we'll try next year. We've had a good season and have a lot to be looking forward to. We're definitely not going to get too torn up about it."