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)
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>>>

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.