It wasn’t a win, but Sunday’s fifth place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 left Dale Earnhardt Jr. feeling pretty satisfied. Especially after the trouble the Hendrick Motorsports team had leading up to the race.
During Friday’s practice session, Earnhardt felt a vibration in the No. 88 Chevy. With the vibration still present, Earnhardt could only manage a 25th qualifying spot. The team seemed unable to find the issue and with practices rained out on Saturday, Earnhardt had no way of knowing if the vibration would get any worse on Sunday.
“Well we changed every part on the car but the engine,” Earnhardt told Examiner. “We got it to where we could drive it. “
Earnhardt was able to drive inside the top ten and was in third in the closing laps.
“Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and the crew they did a good job putting a good car on the starting line that was competitive,” Earnhardt said.”And had a good strategy to get us up front because we qualified so poorly. “
View slideshow: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway Sunday, August 4, 2013
A series of late race cautions left Earnhardt a little irritated at the end of the day.
“Yeah, they are pretty frustrating,” he said. “Those debris cautions can be quite unique and really change the complexion of the race. I think that it definitely makes it more exciting at the end. Sometimes they go for you and sometimes they go against you and you just try to be on the good end. You’ve got to get pretty aggressive in turn one down there and I’m sure it’s a lot of fun to watch.”
A restart with three laps to go left Earnhardt’s Hendrick Motorsports teammates in first and second, Kasey Kahne took the victory with Jeff Gordon second, and left Earnhardt in fifth.
“We didn’t have a good car. It was not as good as we needed to be,” Earnhardt said. “We changed it a little bit from the last time we were here to try and get it better. I don’t think we did. It was a little bit loose-in all day and a little tighter in the center and just didn’t have the edge that we needed. But I felt pretty good coming in here this weekend; real confident. But the weather set us back and then all that vibration stuff; we never got to work on the car real good on Friday. So we just had to shoot in the dark today. I’ve got to thank my guys. They gave me a good car and did a good job on strategy and great pit stops.”
Earnhardt remains fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings as the series heads to the 2.45 mile road course at Watkins Glen in New York next Sunday.
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