Dale Earnhardt Jr. comes up one lap short at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SC - APRIL 12: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina.  (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

DARLINGTON, SC – APRIL 12: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

When the sandy South Carolina dust settled late Saturday night in Darlington County Dale Earnhardt Jr. was left one spot short of his first NASCAR Sprint Cup series win at the famed Lady in Black. It wasn’t from lack of trying.  Earnhardt led on a final overtime green-white-checkered flag restrart up until the white flag when a hard charging Kevin Harvick, who had been the class of the field for 500 miles, rocketed past and onto victory.

After starting 15th, Earnhardt quickly made his way into the top 10 and soon the top five. By the closing laps, Earnhardt was looking for his first win in 20 starts. When the tenth caution set up a green-white-checkered flag period Earnhardt and teammate Jimmie Johnson both took two tires while most others, including Harvick took four. Johnson was able to win the race off pit road, Earnhardt was second. On the restart Johnson took the high side, Earnhardt the inside.

“The outside line was real bad about spinning the tires, and Jimmie hadn’t been up there and didn’t really know that,” Earnhardt said. “He chose the outside on them restarts and I knew I had a great shot at getting the lead from him.  We got going, he spun his tires real bad, the 4 (Harvick ) got to pushing me a little bit and we got the lead, and that felt pretty good leading the race.” MORE>>>

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