'I Should Have Put On a Better Effort'

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. on how he performed at end of Talladega race: "Hopefully, we won't ever have a reapeat of that." (Photo: Getty Images)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. says he feels like “I let a lot of people down” with his decision to drive at the back of the pack late in Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Earnhardt made the comments on his “Dirty Mo Radio” program on his website, dalejr.com.

Some fans have criticized or questioned Earnhardt’s decision to ride behind the pack in the final laps instead of making an attempt to get to the front. The result was that Earnhardt, who ran near the front most of the race, finished 26th. That’s his worst finish of the season when he’s been running at the end. 

Earnhardt said after the race that passing was difficult. He also said that he thought the pack would wreck, and “I can’t afford to wreck anymore here. So you’ve just got to pick your battles. And I felt like we were better off not getting in a wreck and trying to stay back there.’’

Earnhardt suffered a concussion in a crash at Talladega two years ago that caused him to miss two Chase races.

Earnhardt’s disappointment is evident in his weary voice while speaking on “Dirty Mo Radio.’’

Here’s what Earnhardt said on that program:

“Hey everybody just got home from Talladega. Not a good day. Just real disappointed in obviously how we finished, disappointed in how I ran the race, disappointed in a lot of things. 

“I had plenty of racecar. We got ourselves some track position and actually got into the lead and was able to really hold the lead pretty easily. I feel everything was working out like we planned, and we were going to be up there in the top five the rest of the day. Trying to win the race was going to be on our mind the rest of the deal, but we didn’t feel like we could make it on fuel. We gave up the lead and a couple of them guys gambled and made it work.

“Twenty laps there there was really nowhere to go and really no point sitting in the back of it and they ended up wrecking a couple of times, but there at the end I didn’t do what I needed to do, the last 10 laps of the race when I should have been up there getting a little more aggressive and finding spots and positions. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do.

“I know a lot of people are disappointed. I’m disappointed that they’re disappointed. I feel like I should have put on a better effort just for the people who come out there and watch us race and, obviously, my crew. I feel like I let a lot of people down, and I just have got to live with that. That’s a decision I made and that’s how it works. 

“I’ve got to move on to the next race and not spend too much time worrying about it. Hate it all coming out like that, and I learned some pretty good lessons, some pretty hard lessons today. Hopefully, we won’t ever have a repeat of that again.’’

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