The best laid plans of mice, men and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second Sunday at Talladega. (Getty Images)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second Sunday at Talladega. (Getty Images)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. came within a half a lap of winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway for the first time in nine years Sunday.  The driver who has five wins here, including four in a row in 2001-2003 led the second most laps on the day, 38, and was in second place as the field took the white flag.

“I had a plan we were going to get a run down the back straightaway me and the No. 14 (Austin Dillon) and whoever else wanted to go,” Earnhardt said.

For most the race the lead was contested between Earnhardt, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. Earnhardt said that the speed he had in the No. 88 Chevy was a pleasant surprise compared to recent outings at NASCAR’s biggest track. MORE>>>

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