You could almost hear the collective “groan” coming from Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans from around NASCAR Nation on Saturday Night. The most popular driver in the Sprint Cup Series suffered what could only be described as a horrible evening during the race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After turning some decent laps Earnhardt started talking about his car’s handling and a vibration.
Soon afterwards TV camera’s picked up the No. 88 car coming into the pits during a round of stops. Seconds later the image switched to a shot of one of Earnhardt’s crews legs sticking out the car’s window as he was working headfirst to repair a broken shifter handle. Earnhardt said the night was a disappointment for him and his team.
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"The vibration broke the shifter in half and it just wasn’t a good night," Earnhardt Jr. said after the conclusion of the Bank of America 500 which was run under the lights at Charlotte on Saturday night. The car just wasn’t handling well and the vibration was really giving us a lot of problems."
Bottom of the Chase Points
The good news is that Earnhardt managed to bring home a bad car to a top twenty finish. It was a result that was much better than he did the week before when he finished 39th at Kansas. The only problem is that the twenty spot was far below what was needed to climb out of the point’s hole in order to advance to the next round of the chase.
Earnhardt currently sits in the twelfth spot in the chase standings with one more race remaining in the three races which make up round two. After next week’s event at Talladega the drivers in the ninth through twelfth positions will be eliminated from Championship eligibility.
Heading to Talladega there are five drivers within 26 points of the cut-off spot to advance to the Eliminator Round according to NASCAR's point standings. From eighth to twelfth those drivers are; Kasey Kahne is currently above the cutoff line by one point, Matt Kenseth (-1), Brad Keselowski (-19), Jimmie Johnson (-26) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-26)
The last race in round two is on the track that many thought would be considered the wild card race in the second round. Talladega rarely offers up winners that are considered a sure thing when the green flag drops. The track is known for big wrecks, fast laps, lead changes, and wild finishes. Earnhardt said that he knows that his only chance to advance to the next round will probably mean winning at 'Dega.
"This isn't what we need to do," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said while looking ahead to Talladega and the Geico 500. "Go out there and win it. We can do it; we have on there a lot of times. I know what we need to do. We will just have to build a fast car and hope that we don’t have any gremlins and try to go out there and win it."