TALLADEGA, Ala. – Drivers have short memories when it comes to races won and lost, but last year’s Talladega Chase race is one that stick’s in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s mind—and in his craw.
Needing a win to advance to the Round of 8 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Earnhardt drove the race of his life, only to lose by six inches to Joey Logano when caution froze the field after the final restart in overtime.
The memory of that race in all likelihood will remain indelible, because it occurred on the anniversary of his father’s final victory at Talladega, and, in fact, the 76th and final victory of the late Dale Earnhardt’s career.
“I’m going to pat myself on the back a little bit, but I swear the race I ran here last year, I thought was the best race I had ever ran at Talladega,” Earnhardt said on Friday after opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. “It will not ever really get remembered because I didn’t win.
“I’m disappointed because of what happened in that race and what we were doing with the car and what the car was doing was amazing. It sucks, because we were just six inches short of being declared the winner. No, we’ve lost a lot of races here, but I can’t even remember any of them that stand out like that.
“That was frustrating, because that was actually the anniversary of my father’s last win. I’m a bit envious he gets so much credit for what a race that was and how he came back and all that stuff. Man, I thought I was writing my own little story here last fall, but it just didn’t work out for me. We’ll have to try again this weekend to see if we can write it again and hopefully get the win.”