NASCAR Talladega Notebook: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Talks About The One That Got Away

(NASCAR Wire Service)

Reid Spencer ~ NASCAR Wire Service

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Photo:  Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)

TALLADEGA, Ala. – Drivers have short memories when it comes to races won and lost, but last year’s Talladega Chase race is one that stick’s in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s mind—and in his craw.

Needing a win to advance to the Round of 8 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Earnhardt drove the race of his life, only to lose by six inches to Joey Logano when caution froze the field after the final restart in overtime.

The memory of that race in all likelihood will remain indelible, because it occurred on the anniversary of his father’s final victory at Talladega, and, in fact, the 76th and final victory of the late Dale Earnhardt’s career.

“I’m going to pat myself on the back a little bit, but I swear the race I ran here last year, I thought was the best race I had ever ran at Talladega,” Earnhardt said on Friday after opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. “It will not ever really get remembered because I didn’t win.

“I’m disappointed because of what happened in that race and what we were doing with the car and what the car was doing was amazing. It sucks, because we were just six inches short of being declared the winner. No, we’ve lost a lot of races here, but I can’t even remember any of them that stand out like that.

“That was frustrating, because that was actually the anniversary of my father’s last win. I’m a bit envious he gets so much credit for what a race that was and how he came back and all that stuff. Man, I thought I was writing my own little story here last fall, but it just didn’t work out for me. We’ll have to try again this weekend to see if we can write it again and hopefully get the win.”


In NASCAR racing, the driver of record in an event is the driver who starts the race.

Even if a relief driver should take over, the driver who took the green flag to start the race gets credit for the victory.

You’ll recall that in 2007 Aric Almirola got his only NASCAR XFINITY Series win at the Milwaukee Mile, though he got out of the car after 58 laps to make way for late-arriving Denny Hamlin, who had travel issues on his commute from Sonoma Raceway.

Though the box score gives Almirola credit for the victory and for 107 laps led, it was Hamlin who took the checkered flag in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet.

Similarly, if Tony Stewart hands over the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet to Ty Dillon under the first caution in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, as planned, and if Dillon happens to win the race, Stewart would get credit for the victory and everything that comes with it—including a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup (provided he finishes the regular season in the top 30 in points).

But after missing the first eight races of the season while recovering from a back injury, Stewart would prefer to get to Victory Lane the old-fashioned way.

“I don’t think I will feel good about it if I were to get a spot that way,” Stewart said on Friday at Talladega. “I know I wouldn’t feel good about it.

“I think for me to make the Chase, it needs to be because I ran the whole race and won the race. Not started it and somebody else won it for me.”


After last Sunday’s final-lap bump-and-run, there was no tension between Richmond race winner Carl Edwards and bumpee Kyle Busch during Joe Gibbs Racing’s weekly competition meeting.

There couldn’t have been—because Edwards wasn’t there.

And on Friday at Talladega, Edwards acknowledged that he and Busch hadn’t spoken about the pass in Turn 4 at RIR, where Edwards used his bumper to move Busch’s Toyota up the track and into second place.

“No, Kyle and I haven’t had a chance to talk yet,” Edwards said. “I was testing in Indy for two days (at a Goodyear tire test) and I missed the meetings. This weekend will require us to talk together as a group and work well together (at Talladega), and I’m sure we’ll have a chance to talk.”

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