Earnhardt falls short of expectations at Talladega

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, leads Kurt Busch, driver of the #51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Best Buy Ford, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 DuPont 20 Years Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 6, 2012 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR)

He was expected to shine; it was the race where the nearly four year losing streak would end. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the clear favorite heading to Talladega Superspeedway. After an early season spent as a contender nearly each and every week the consensus was that Earnhardt could finally score a much needed win this past Sunday.

Not only did Earnhardt have five wins at Talladega, second in active drivers only to Jeff Gordon, but NASCAR kept the same rules package it had in place for Daytona, meaning pack racing was back. Earnhardt’s five wins came during the era when pack racing was the norm adding fuel to the ‘favorite’ fire.

When the checkered flag fell for winner Brad Keselowski however, Earnhardt’s fire never really flamed.  Early on though, it looked like Earnhardt could pull it off. After starting 18th, Earnhardt quickly made his way to the front pushing teammate Jimmie Johnson to the lead. Earnhardt took the lead himself on lap 64 much to the approval of the partisan crowd. On lap 72 however, Earnhardt lost out when Matt Kenseth charged past and to the front. Earnhardt fell to 19th place. MORE>>>


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