The man that has won more races at Talladega than any other person in history fell short again Sunday afternoon as the yellow flag came out just as he was making his winning move.
It has been nine years since Dale Earnhardt Jr. has visited victory lane on a Superspeedway and that streak was extended as Austin Dillon lost control on the final lap bringing the exciting finish to an anti-climatic early ending.
"It's all kind of a blur as to how we ended up in second, but I had no reason to make a move before the last lap being in second place," said Earnhardt after the race. "I was in perfect position to be patient and wait as long as I wanted to. So that's why we didn't go any sooner than that."
Earnhardt told his crew that he had a plan with three laps to go and seemed poised to break his winless streak when the yellow flag came out giving Jamie McMurray the first win of the season for Ganassi Racing.
"I'm pretty sure Jamie wasn't just going to let me go by, he was going to side draft," explained Earnhardt on his last lap plan. "I don't know what Austin would have done for sure, but I assumed, knowing him as I do, he was probably going to help me once. You know what I mean? And after that you're on your own."
McMurray only led 16 laps of the 188 but he was out front at just the right time. He knew that he was not in the most ideal position but hoped that he could hold off Earnhardt somehow on the final lap.
"I was getting ready to start swerving to try to get in front of him," said McMurray about last lap thoughts. "If the guy behind you can break that plane of your rear bumper, it's over, and so I just wanted to make sure I could keep my car in front of him."
Earnhardt will have to wait until Daytona in 2014 to see if he can break the super speedway jinx but, NASCAR's most popular driver feels like his team is headed in the right direction.
"Yeah, I'm not going to complain too much because I'm driving some of the best cars in the garage and got some of the best engines being at a place like that. It really means a lot.
As Earnhardt explained how another victory got away, teammate Jimmie Johnson moved into the Championship point lead over Matt Kenseth with a 13th place finish. The five time champion is now 4 points ahead with four races to go. Could he be headed to a sixth title? No one can tell yet and as we saw in Talladega, anything can happen.
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