The short track at Martinsville Speedway and quite a bit of bump-and-run spelled doom for Dale Earnhardt Jr.‘s run of top-10 finishes in this NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. While many Dale fans clamored that he’d be in contention for the win this weekend, the track instead shattered the greatest start Earnhardt has ever had in the Sprint Cup.
At the start of the race, it seemed like Earnhardt was going to keep the alive by clawing from his low starting spot up and into the top ten. Indeed Earnhardt had a very fast car on new tires, but pit missteps kept sending him behind.
Eventually, he fell back into 22nd position fighting Danica Patrick, his former driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Patrick would make contact with Jr., sending him spinning out. After this, Earnhardt languished while Patrick made her way to nice rookie finish of 12th in her first Martinsville race.
After being spun out, Earnhardt was only able to pull out a 24th place finish while Sprint Cup point competitors Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson finished sixth and won respectively. While he may have lost the point lead, don’t count Dale out just yet.
Keselowski had a bad week in Fontana, but sprung back this week to finish in the top ten at a track that’s not one of his best. If Earnhardt can rebound in similar fashion, he will still be a threat. This bad weekend may just be a step back, but we will see next weekend at Texas.