Running up front throughout the entire Kobalt 400, Dale Earnhardt Jr. knew that he didn’t have anything for Kevin Harvick in the late stage. So, the No. 88 Nationwide team took a shot at a gamble, taking two tires while the rest of the front runners took four. The gamble unfortunately didn’t pay off as Earnhardt Jr. would cross the line in the fourth spot.
“I like to gamble. I liked the call. I love being aggressive,” Earnhardt commented. “We weren’t going to drive up there and pass that No. 4 (Kevin Harvick). So, we had to take a chance. Second, fifth, fourth, whatever; it really don’t matter if you don’t win. I was happy with the Nationwide Chevrolet all day long.
“Last year we run second and almost won the race, by luck. We sit around and run 10th, eighth, place all day last year and weren’t a very good car. This year, our cars are racing up there. So, we think we’ve got the cars better than we had last year. Hendrick, overall, has great speed. The engine department is doing awesome and we’re going to get one. I want to win! We’re going to get there.”
Throughout the end of the race, Earnhardt expressed some comments on the radio that something was up with the car that he would want to discuss with crew chief Greg Ives later. Speaking with the media post-race, Earnhardt said that he had a real bad vibration during the last run and was really, really loose.
“We’ve been running the track bar pretty much even the whole race, and at the end there I had it down three inches on right side trying to save my butt,” he added. “Maybe it was worn-out lefts, I don’t know. The left side (tires) is new and a little softer compound maybe we just took it a little bit too far.”
For Earnhardt, it marks his third straight top-four finish to start the season, following a pair of thirds in the first two races of the year. As a result, he currently sits second in points, nine points behind Kevin Harvick.