FORTH WORTH, Tex. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. finally had a car he could enjoy—but a balky cooling unit took some of fun out of his fifth-place run in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet was a fixture in the top-10 for most of the afternoon, with a car that could run with the machines that have dominated the action in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series thus far this season.
“It was warm,” a red-faced Earnhardt said after climbing from his car. “I thought the car was pretty warm all weekend, but our air conditioner wasn’t doing a very good job today. We’ve just got to relocate the outlet or the inlet to give it a better opportunity to get some air. But with the wind, as windy as it is here, you’ve got to put that thing in a more opportune place.
“It’s kind of like a vacuum. It’s pulling air out of the helmet… I just ran with the visor up the whole day. I was happy to see that caution late to get us some Gatorade and cool off a little bit. It was hot.”
At least the result was satisfying for Earnhardt, who posted his first top five—and top 10—of the 2017 campaign.
“I figured we would get one sooner or later, but it’s nice,” Earnhardt said. “I know our fans are really pulling for us. Could have finished a little better, but we’ll take top five.”