Earnhardt Jr. surprised his rivals weren’t better weather men

Fans greet Dale Earnhardt Jr. before the start of the Auto Club 400 at Fontana, Calif. (Getty Images)
Fans greet Dale Earnhardt Jr. before the start of the Auto Club 400 at Fontana, Calif. (Getty Images)

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.

Fans greet Dale Earnhardt Jr. before the start of the Auto Club 400 at Fontana, Calif. (Getty Images)
Fans greet Dale Earnhardt Jr. before the start of the Auto Club 400 at Fontana, Calif. (Getty Images)

“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.

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.