Average Start For Earnhardt Jr

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Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had hoped for a better way to kick off his return to the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup" than his 13th place finish in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Although it was a marked improvement from his 43rd place finish in Loudon back in July, the Budweiser Chevrolet's less than stellar day didn't sit well with Earnhardt, Jr.

"It was really frustrating," Earnhardt Jr. said.

The DEI team never had the right set-up all weekend long, leaving Junior to struggle with an ill handling car in the race.

"I am a good driver, and when I get decent equipment and we can work on it and do right, we will go to the front; we just didn't do it right," he said.

"We have to do better than that as a team if we want to win this championship. People have taken shots at me saying I don't care about winning, but I can tell you nobody else wants to win more when I'm in that race car.

"We tried hard, really hard - the whole team did - and Tony Eury Jr. (crew chief) tried a lot of changes to make the car handle, but trying hard isn't going to do it.

"I am proud of the effort, but we didn't do our best."

Earnhardt, Jr. only lost one spot in the standings but fell to 81 behind leader Kevin Harvick. Despite "Chase" contenders Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch having even more trouble than Earnhardt did on Sunday, Junior isn't finding any solace.

"I don't care what happened to the other Chase contenders, I am competing for a championship, so I don't care what happens to anyone but this team," he said.

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