NASCAR: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Comes Up Short At Kansas With Second-Place Result

Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn't find Sunday's second-place result at Kansas Speedway to be overly disappointing, even though he narrowly lost a fuel-mileage race for the second week in a row.

Actually, Earnhardt Jr. said, he felt lucky just to finish where he did.

"It's just rolling the dice, man, that's what it was," he said after the race. "You know how the dice is – sometimes it works for you and sometimes it don't."

On Sunday, the Hendrick Motorsports driver didn't quite have all the luck on his side; race winner Brad Keselowski claimed that honor.

But there were still some positives for Earnhardt Jr., mainly in the finish itself – the runnerup result was Earnhardt Jr.'s first top-five finish at a 1.5-mile track since the 2008 Coca-Cola 600.

"We've had some runs where we drove ourselves into the positions where we finished," he said of his season so far, which has left him third in the Sprint Cup Series point standings. "We finished well by running well and by getting lucky. And that's what championship teams do. "

Earnhardt Jr. wasn't particularly enjoying his day at Kansas around the start of the STP 400, but crew chief Steve Letarte steadily improved the car for him.

The No. 88 was working its way up through the field when, as Earnhardt Jr. neared the top 10 past the midway point of the race, he suddenly spun out on his own.

"I went to searching for more speed and busted my butt up there on (Turns) 3 and 4," he said. "And (lost) us all the spots we worked for all day."

But, Earnhardt Jr. added, the move allowed Letarte to "play the strategy game" with fuel; and it just so happened that the cautions fell in the No. 88 team's favor for the rest of the day.

Asked his reaction when Letarte informed him that the race was turning into a fuel-mileage event for the second straight week, Earnhardt Jr. chuckled and replied, "Not again."

"Man, he was telling me that whole run, 'We're good,'" Earnhardt Jr. said. "Then we got within 10 to go and he said, 'Back it down, back it down.

"I said, 'I can catch the 2, he's real slow.' And he's like, 'Back it down, back it down, back it up to the 11.' (I said), 'What? I thought we was good.'

"He said, 'No, we're going to run out right at the flag stand.' And it did. The gauge was red. It ran out (on) the back of the straightaway."

Afterward, Earnhardt Jr. found himself weakened by the excessive heat at Kansas – weather that was a bit unexpected for the track's inaugural spring race – and said he looked forward to returning home for some rest.

"I want to lay by the pool and drink some vodka or whatever," he said. "I'll probably chug a lot of water tonight so I'm hydrated for tomorrow. I heard drinking pickle juice is good for you or Pedialyte. I'll give it a shot. I got some of that. "

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