Dale Earnhardt Jr. was disappointed with his finish at Dover International Speedway on Sunday when he failed to pass teammate Jimmie Johnson for the lead.
Earnhardt won the pole for the AAA 400 on Friday, which put him in front of the field for Sunday’s race. However, the Hendrick driver suffered two pit mistakes.
The first came on lap 117 when Earnhardt came in too fast and wasn’t able to get all four tires under the commitment line. Rather than incur a penalty, Earnhardt continued around the track. The second time, he entered the pits in the lead again, but wasn’t quick enough to stay ahead of Johnson and others.
After the race, SB Nation reports that Dale Earnhardt Jr. told reporters, “If you really look at the race as a whole, [the two pit stops] did cost us a little bit, at least the mistake I made missing pit road completely. We had the lead, gave up the lead. Jimmie had the lead and was able to take advantage of that clean air when it counted.”
Earnhardt led 80 laps during Sunday’s race, including 76 of the first 117, before his first error. Sporting News notes that Earnhardt added of the second-place finish, “I’m a little disappointed we didn’t pull off the win. I felt like we had the perfect strategy — [we] had maybe the best car, arguably the best car.”
The Hendrick driver’s race result was still his highest since he was runner-up at Fontana in March. His 80 laps led was also a season best. Earnhardt made it into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but doesn’t have a chance at winning anymore. He is currently 57 points behind Chase leader Matt Kenseth.
While he won’t win the Chase this year, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief, Steve Letarte, was satisfied. He stated, “We came here to run better, and we ran better.” Earnhardt went home with a new track qualifying record and a second place finish.