LAS VEGAS, NV (WFXG) - The last time I filled up my gas tank, it cost me over two dollars per gallon. However, Dale Earnhardt Jr. found out Sunday afternoon that gas is a lot more expensive when it keeps you out of victory lane.
Earnhardt seemed to have things pretty much under control with 50 laps to go in the Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motorspeedway until he ran out of gas on the last half lap to keep him from capturing his second victory of the 2014 season.
After all, it was Vegas and Earnhardt didn't feel so bad about his team's gamble that almost produced a jackpot.
"You know, it did pay off. Not the ultimate prize, but we did run second," said Earnhardt after the race. "We weren't going to -- as much as you want to win, and believe me, we were out there trying to win, you do take pride in a good performance, a good finish."
Earnhardt knew that fuel was going to be close in the closing laps but, with nothing to lose, his team was willing to bet on Lady Luck.
"We figured we were a lap short, and I was lifting early and let Brad get there," continued Earnhardt on his team's decision. "I felt like if we were good enough to hold him off, then we'd win the race. If we weren't, we would have saved enough fuel to have finished the race, at least get to the end."
Eventual race winner, Brad Keselowski, knew that Earnhardt was in trouble in the closing laps and pushed his pace to catch and pass the man that gave him his big break in the sport on the final backstretch.
"I could tell he was saving a little bit based on the lines he was running compared to where I had seen him earlier in the day. He was able to save a little bit," commented Keselowski on his charge at the end. "Once I saw that, we ran him down, I think 10, 15 laps, whatever that was, and forced him to kind of get up into his speed line, and that was just taking fuel from his car."
The rest was history as Keselowski motored by Earnhardt to take his first victory of the young season.
"Racing like that is what you live for as a driver, at least I do," continued the race winner. "Those moments when you are side by side and you lay it all out on the race track and bring back the car with the tires smoking, engine smoking, and your worn out inside because you know you gave it all you had."
The win punched Keselowski's ticket for the post season while Earnhardt continues his early season success. So far, the NASCAR's new rules package seem to be creating the excitement that they were looking for.