Following a pit-road commitment line violation that doomed his chances of a top-10 finish at Darlington Raceway on Saturday night, Dale Earnhardt Jr. called a team meeting to apologize to his crew for his 14th-place finish.
"It sucks pretty bad," said Earnhardt Jr., who was running sixth at the time he attempted to pit. "We had good speed and we worked really hard to get into the top 10. We made a mistake on pit road last week, and this week the driver screwed it up. That's just the way it goes."
Earnhardt Jr. was heading to pit road for the final stop when he came in too hot and knocked the pit road commitment cone onto the track.
Since he wasn't all the way inside the cone, he had to serve a painful pass-through penalty under the green flag. He fell one lap down and dropped to 21st as a result.
Later, he got the free pass and was able to rally for a few spots, but he was still disappointed.
"I'm going to talk to the guys and see if I can't apologize to 'em and tell 'em how much I appreciate the car," he said. "I won't beat myself up too bad, I guess."
Earnhardt Jr. said the car had speed, but was "so, soooo hard to drive, man."
"We maintained track position just by being as good as the guys around us," he said. "I don't know what we're missing...but we just lacked a little bit.
"We would have finished solidly inside the top 10, and I gave up about eight spots today making my mistake. I'll try not to make it again when we come back."
Earnhardt Jr. remained fourth in the Sprint Cup Series point standings, 47 points behind leader Carl Edwards.