For a time during Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, several drivers looked to be in the mix for the win. One of those, Dale Earnhardt Jr. seemed a legitimate contender for the win.
Earnhardt started 23 but methodically worked his way up through the field and by lap 120 was in fifth. By lap 201 of the 267 circuits he was third.
An ill timed caution however ruined any chance Earnhardt had. During a cycle of green flag pit stops that started on lap 210 Earnhardt was on pit road when a caution for debris came out.
“I was real worried. I was a lap down,” Earnhardt said. “I just had an idea there that we was in big trouble and were going to have a hard time finishing as well as we were running.”
Unfortunately for Earnhardt he wasn’t the only car a lap down a result of the caution, although he admitted there was some confusion at first.
“Yeah, we were the Lucky Dog because we were ahead of the No. 17 (Stenhouse), a lap down,” he said. “But NASCAR has a way of scoring it and they scored it the way they scored it. That’s the rules. It’s not a real big deal. If we were the Lucky Dog, we would have been able to have the advantage of coming down pit road and work on the car a little bit and take some tires. But we weren’t.”
Instead Earnhardt was able to take advantage of the wave around rule, which at least got him back on the lead lap.
View slideshow: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway, Apr. 21, 2013
“We were still in the same position we were in, whether we were the Lucky Dog of not,” he said. “But didn’t get a chance to work on the car a little bit. But I don’t know if we would have done anything to it. I’m just real happy with the speed. The car had a great engine. The car handled good. We did a good strategy. We just got bit by a caution there.”
At the end of the day Earnhardt was scored 16 his third finish outside the top 15 of 2013 and comes on the heels of finishes outside the top 20 in the past two races. Despite that Earnhardt remains optimistic.
“We’ve been doing that every week; running real good and not getting a good finish,” He said. “But it’ll come around. We’ve just got to keep working and stay positive. You can’t really get down about it because it can affect how you can perform when things do get turned around. So we’re going to stay positive. The cars have been real fast. What we’re doing is working on the set-ups. It just seems like we’ve got a good idea of what we need to be doing. The cars are real competitive.”
One bright spot for Earnhardt: He did move up a spot in the standings and heads to Richmond this Saturday night fifth in the points.
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