Dale Earnhardt Jr. had from most accounts a strong return last weekend at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. In all aspects, that is, except the finish.
Earnhardt, one of just two teams to stay out on the track on the last pit stop rather than take on fresh tires, got stuck on the outside lane on the restart and ended up wrecked with Carl Edwards. After the race, Earnhardt appeared especially frustrated with his finish and the team's decision to pit.
On Friday, Earnhardt spoke in depth about his frustrations of last week.
"We were coming back from missing a few weeks and just trying to really get in a solid week of work. Obviously, even finishing seventh or whatever wasn’t exactly where we wanted to finish, but I needed a little closure on the whole process. I really didn’t get it last weekend," Earnhardt said.
"When we made the decision to stay out I was positive coming to that restart I was positive about what we were doing. When (crew chief Steve Letarte) made the decision for us to not pit I didn’t immediately throw my hands up in the air at that moment. I was still like ‘Alright you know I’m going to go as hard as I can go here.’ I was starting up front and I really didn’t think we were going to be as bad as we were on that little run after that restart. So I really wasn’t that upset about it at all.
"Then we had the restart and the car was real tight, real slow and just in the way. People were all over me trying to get by me. I know I was a pain in the ass and I was just getting more and more frustrated. I think I lost control of my emotions a little bit in how I expressed my opinion after the race to him, to you, to everybody. Because looking back now I really wasn’t that mad about it. I didn’t even think it was a bad call when we made it. I was being a bit of a back seat driver or arm chair quarterback after the fact. He had done a great job been real supportive of me and I need to realize he is trying to help me. He’s not trying to throw me to the wolves. He is trying to help me win races.”