Twenty-five percent of Dale Earnhardt's finishes at New Hampshire Motor Speedway have resulted in top-fives but that's not good enough for the Hendrick Motorsports driver.
Once again, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a runner-up at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Entering the 5-hour Energy 301, Earnhardt had seven top-five finishes at the Magic Mile — the most for any driver sans win. On Sunday, he added to his Loudon tally with an eighth fifth-place finish but the victories have eluded Earnhardt at the track.
Among current drivers, only Jeff Gordon (16), Tony Stewart (14) and Jimmie Johnson (10) have more top-five finishes. Sunday’s NHMS winner Kyle Busch shares Earnhardt’s top five total of eight.
I’m always like the third, fourth, fifth best car. I’m never like the 2, the 18, the 4, the 11. That is very frustrating.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Seem like I run in the top five, top 10 every damn time we come here,” Earnhardt said. “I’m always like the third, fourth, fifth best car. I’m never like the 2, the 18, the 4, the 11. That is very frustrating.
“But at the same time, you know, I got to say something about my ability and the team’s ability. I take a lot of pride in having a good positive statistic like that. But is sure would be nice to hold the lobster and do all the fun stuff they do in Victory Lane.”
Hard fought finish
Still, on Sunday, Earnhardt was the top finishing Hendrick Motorsports driver.
He started the race 19th and worked his way up into the top five by Lap 63. Midway through the race, Earnhardt sustained damage on the front end of the car while battling Kurt Busch through Turns 1 and 2. He was finally forced to pit for repairs multiple times during the fourth caution on Lap 189.
Earnhardt restarted 26th and over the next 90 laps put the No. 88 Nationwide Chevy in contention for a top-five finish.
“We had a little power issue on the car,” said Earnhardt, who moved up to third in the point standings — the highest Hendrick Motorsports driver. “Saw some things on the gauges and just was real down on power, but worked real hard to try to make our car better in the corner. I had to drive real hard all day long.
“We had a pretty decent car, just need to be a little bit better if we want to come back here and do well in the Chase. We have to get a little more speed, the whole company needs to just keep working and we will get it.”