Mistakes Bite Earnhardt Jr.
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on April 15, 2013 | 2:00 P.M. EST
Earnhardt Jr. fell three spots to sixth in the standings. (Photo: Getty Images)
Earnhardt went to pit road on lap 187 after experiencing a power outage in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. The No. 88 team realized Earnhardt’s car had a battery issue that was solved by simply switching to the back-up.
Earnhardt said after the race he felt bad about not taking care of the problem himself.
"Once you get to the pit stall, it’s starting to register that, 'OK, all these gauges are going crazy, it’s electrical,' " Earnhardt explained. "Then you think it’s the battery, let’s change the battery and boom - OK, everything is fine and it fires right up."
However, the problems were compounded when NASCAR pegged Earnhardt for speeding when he went down pit road to check on the problems under the hood.
"I came down pit road and sped because I don’t have a tach," Earnhardt said. "I can’t slow down to pit road speed because I might not make it to my pit stall for five laps."
To make matters worse, Earnhardt suffered another penalty when crew chief Steve Letarte called for a two-tire change while Earnhardt was executing his drive-through penalty, which is not allowed.
"I learned something," Letarte said. "You don't get too many pass-through penalties. We need to manage it better, just like everything else. It’s hard to prepare for those things. We’ll do a better job next time. The guys prepared a good car. It was fast all week. Keep doing that and we’ll win some races. We just need to get all of this out of the way."
Earnhardt still felt the move was the right one, given the circumstances.
"I did know the rule but thought we were probably better off getting tires anyway," Earnhardt said.
At the end of the night, he was surprisingly positive after the adventure in "The Lone Star State" led to his 29th-place finish.
"If we're running badly and having these kinds of nights, we'd have a hard time making the Chase," said Earnhardt. "But we're running well so eventually, things will turn back around for us. We'll get going. We've got a lot of confidence and a positive attitude."
Heading to Kansas Speedway this week will be interesting for Earnhardt. The track is where he suffered a concussion last year while tire testing. Despite his disappointment in Texas and perhaps a major psychological challenge this weekend, Earnhardt remains upbeat seven races into the 2013 campaign.
"My confidence is still up," Earnhardt said. "I'm positive about going forward."