FONTANA, Calif. — To Dale Earnhardt Jr., the decision not to pit when rain hit Auto Club Speedway on Sunday was a no-brainer.
Earnhardt stayed out and finished third in the rain-shortened Auto Club 400, which NASCAR called after 129 laps when the rain intensified.
Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson, however, came to pit road under caution for the initial shower, giving up positions in the top five and costing themselves better finishes. Earnhardt was shocked that anyone came to pit road.
“I was pretty certain by watching the weather and studying the weather all night long and all day today that once it began to rain, it wasn’t going to stop,” Earnhardt said. “I was surprised that some guys came down pit road and gave up track position.”
Having made the right call, Earnhardt gained three positions in the Sprint Cup standings and now trails leader Greg Biffle by 17 points.