Promising finish for Dale Earnhardt Jr. is gone in a cloud of dust

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard/7-Eleven Chevrolet, amd Regan Smith, driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet, spin out after an incident in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma on June 24, 2012 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard/7-Eleven Chevrolet, amd Regan Smith, driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet, spin out after an incident in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma on June 24, 2012 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR)

SONOMA, Calif. — Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t have the speed to hang with the contenders in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, but perseverance and astute pit calls had him in position to escape the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series road-course race of the season with a top-15 finish.

That’s when a multicar wreck after the final restart quashed his prospects. His No. 88 Chevrolet damaged in the melee, Earnhardt struggled home with a 23rd-place result, one week after ending a 143-race drought with a victory at Michigan.

He fell one notch to third in the Cup standings, 14 points behind series leader Matt Kenseth.

“We had new tires, and we were running good and restarted 13th (for a green-white-checkered-flag finish),” Earnhardt said. “So, if it had been somebody else getting wrecked at the end, maybe we would have finished in the top 10.

“I’m just mad because we didn’t run better . . . I’ve run better here. We weren’t good all weekend. We’ve got to put a better car on the racetrack. I ain’t the best road-course racer out there, but I can damn sure do better than that.”

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.