Had his Hendrick Motorsports pit crew not made another mistake in the Chase, it still wasn't going to be a great night for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
But instead of finishing 19th, as he did on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Earnhardt Jr. said he could have been 11th or 12th without a loose lugnut that forced him to hit pit road again under green.
Two weeks ago at Dover, Earnhardt Jr.'s result was also impacted by a loose wheel.
NASCAR's most popular driver certainly wouldn't be leading the Chase had his pit crew not made those two key errors; but he also wouldn't be 60 points out of the lead, either.
"It's very costly," he said. "You want to finish as high as you can in the points, no matter where that is. You want to do the best you can. And we're not doing the best we can. It's disappointing and frustrating."
Earnhardt Jr. stopped short of calling for any changes to his pit crew, however, adding crew chief Steve Letarte shouldn't do anything "drastic."
"I believe in these guys," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Every time I come down pit road, I'm excited about the group that's going to put tires on my car. We just made a mistake, and I'm sure he won't let that happen again.
"I believe in them and understand everyone's human. But I'm pretty upset that we're just not capitalizing on opportunities."
The driver said it was important for his crewmen to execute on their opportunities, because there are other tire changers in waiting to fill the spots of those who err too often.
"You know, you can't make (mistakes) too many times before somebody will come in there and fill your place," he said.
Earnhardt Jr. said he was particularly frustrated because his team "should finish in the top 10 every week," but instead it often shoots itself in the foot.
"We're either beating ourselves or making mistakes or circumstances just aren't happening for us," he said. "We can't really seem to put together a clean race and we have to work real hard just to kind of make up for the things we do to ourselves.
"We work really hard, at least. So we're definitely learning a lot of lessons in that regard."