Coming off a string of six races with only one top-15 finish, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was able to smile once again following his ninth-place finish Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
Running in the top-10 for the majority of the afternoon, Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the overall speed of the car and the team's ability to rally back from some struggles on pit road.
"There's so many guys on the team, it's rare when everyone is kind of clicking," he said. "We'll get it sorted out. We had good speed though, we had a good car all day long and real happy how that worked out."
By finishing ninth, and thanks to a late-race mistake by Denny Hamlin's pit crew, Earnhardt Jr. was able to put a bit more of a cushion on his points position, moving within one point of Tony Stewart in ninth and extending the gap to Hamlin to 23.
After weeks of struggles, Earnhardt Jr. said he was "comfortable" with his spot in the standings, without even knowing how Sunday's results came into play.
"I don't know where we're at (in points). I haven't seen it. I'm comfortable though, trust me," he said with a grin. "I'd rather be second or first or third, whatever, but I'm good with how things are working out."
What Earnhardt Jr. is happy about is the team's ability to get back on track after those six weeks of poor finishes. Following a string of three races with one top-five and three top-10s, Earnhardt Jr. slipped into his worst slump of the year.
Instead of hanging his head or panicking, Earnhardt Jr. remained focused and was able to get the team back on track. Although pleased with his performance, he continued to find room for improvement going forward, saying they need to get better at qualifying.
"Our car had speed," he said. "I was like, ‘Heck yeah, man!' I drove up to fifth there one time and was racing around the top four, that's how we were running at the start of the year. I'm kind of happy about that. Hopefully we've got it figured out."
Heading to Watkins Glen next week, Earnhardt Jr. knows it could be "feast or famine" as they try to "steal a win" using pit strategy.
"If we have a bad day (at Watkins Glen), I really won't be too concerned," he said. "As far as oval racing – what I love – I think we're getting better at it again."